OUR interviews with Kilcullen’s Dennis Hogan and Gary Cully from Naas as they appear in this week’s Kildare Nationalist, in your shops now or online at www.kildare-nationalist.ie, in advance of sharing the historic Card with Katie Taylor in their homecoming fight in the 3 Arena on Saturday night.
By Pat Costello
NEXT Saturday night the 3 Arena in Dublin will stage Katie Taylor’s historic home coming fight with super lightweight World Champion, Chantelle Cameron. While a lot of attention will be on the Bray boxer’s bout with the 32 year British Boxer, key bouts on the card, especially from a Kildare point of view will be IBO Super Welterweight World Champion, Kilcullen’s Dennis Hogan V James Metcalf and Naas Lightweight superstar, Gary Cully V Jose Felix.
The Kildare Nationalist caught up with Hogan and Cully last week as they put the final touches to their preparations at their camps in South Kildare and Unit 3 Boxing Club, Naas respectively.
Dennis Hogan V James Metcalf
AUSTRALIA based, Denis “Hurricane” Hogan has been home at his South Kildare base for the past three weeks as he prepares to put his World title on the line against 34 year old Liverpudlian, James “JJ” Metcalf, in the first of a three fight deal for the Kildare man.
The enduring Hogan was home in Kilcullen over Christmas as he celebrated the capture of the World title in a bruising fight with Englishman, Sam Eggington last October. “It was very good to see family after four years, but to have the World title as well it was extra special. It was very good to see everybody and to spend a Christmas in Ireland again.
“I reckon I haven’t changed at all anyway, and it was good to come back and see everyone; we all grew up together and as much enjoyment as I hope I give in the fights, I’m still the same little fella, the cheeky little bugger,” Dennis laughs.
Hogan didn’t rest on his laurels and he was back in training in the second week of January. “So the head was down, I was training hard, and before I knew it I’m back in Ireland. It really was surreal how fast it all happened. But I really have put in the hard yards, and I’m fit and ready to go now,” the Kilcullen man promised.
“I have a three fight deal and the good thing about winning that title in the circumstances I won it under, was that I got to go off and do whatever I wanted to afterwards. I won it and then, the world was at my feet again, so that was good. Sometimes in boxing you have to just do what you got to do to get back to that place, but when you get there it’s a good place to be again,” he said.
Speaking of his homecoming fight next Saturday night, Dennis Hogan told us, “At the end of 2011 I actually set the goal, that I would have this fight. I spoke with Ger McNally (formerly Sports Editor, Kildare Nationalist) back then and I dreamt of coming home defending my world title in the 3 Arena, and that was my dream and I wasn’t going to fight in Ireland until I got the strap.
“Now the way everything has happened, it’s all happened the way I visualised it so it’s all happened perfectly really. I suppose I’m 38 years of age so it probably happened a little bit later that I would have expected but it’s happening nonetheless,” he added.
Hogan says his fight style is about being defensive and being skilful. “There are guys there that have fight and they could win five in a year but it could take a couple of years off their life, their career and that. I don’t tend to get involved in those, it suited me well and my style and my longevity, so it’s all come together nicely”.
While the Kilcullen man had to overcome many setbacks before he captured his World title he says he didn’t want it “to be a complete hard luck story. Now it’s a story of attrition, all those things about overcoming adversity, but had I hung up the gloves at the wrong time, I would have just been a hard luck story, and I wasn’t prepared to leave it at that. It was like I brainwashed myself, even when things were at their bleakest I thought this doesn’t feel right, this isn’t the way it’s meant to be. And yeah kept going, and I was right.”
“I visualised coming home defending my world title at the 3 Arena for the best part of 10 years, so when I heard it wouldn’t be Croke Park for whatever reasons and it was going to be 3 Arena, I smiled to myself because this is how I visualised it. And I also visualised a good win too,” he quickly added. “So I’m happy with where it is for now. Obviously I’m sad for the people who can’t get there; I think a Croke Park night is on the horizon again anyway, but 3 Arena it is, the house will be packed and I’ll be putting on a show,” Dennis concluded.
Gary Cully V Jose Felix
After demolishing his last two opponents to move towards challenging for a World title, 27 year Naas man, (16 from 16) Gary “Sarto Diva” Cully takes on 31 year old, Mexican Jose Felix who a 46 fight record with 39 wins and 30 inside the distance.
Speaking to the Kildare Nationalist in his Unit 3 Boxing Club camp in Naas last week, Gary Cully said that he thought it was the best camp he ever had. “We mapped out a plan of where we wanted to go. We’ve been working hard in the gym and we have been smashing numbers. I have been over to the UK for some sparring sessions. It’s a special night so I felt like I had to prepare better than ever.”
Because of his power and performance in the ring Cully admitted that it has been difficult finding suitable sparring partners, particularly in Ireland. “Ireland is quite small and all the lads I spar with are southpaws but Felix is an orthodox so I had to take that into account too.”
Cully says he hasn’t been distracted by the noise around the homecoming fight. “It has been motivational really. It’s a huge event and as I said I had to prepare better than ever. I have to perform better than ever because the Irish fans have had big fight boxing here for some 15 years. It’s up to us now to show them what they’ve been missing.”
“For about six to eight weeks I was kind of excited and it was all about the event and how big the bill is but in the last couple of weeks I have really started zoning in on the opponent and the performance. A ring is a ring to me. It could be a gym in Dublin, it could be New York, it could be wherever. I just have to get in there and perform,” Gary explained.
Gary sees Saturday night as a huge night for Irish boxing. “Obviously with Dennis (Hogan) from Kildare and Katie (Taylor) from Bray and Thomas (Carty) and Caoimhin (Agyarko) on the card who I would have grown up through the amateur system here and we all shared the same dream. It’s really come full circle as we would have been training with Katie as a senior. We are all achieving our dreams.”
“For me it’s just the start of many nights. I want to bring them back here myself. I want to be headlining my own card towards the end of the year. It’s a big night for me and my career but it’s just the start of many more I believe,” he explained.
Of his opponent Cully says, “If you let him inside you and let him get to work he has a bit of power. I actually saw him live when he boxed Jerome McKenna, who I train with, in the Feile in Belfast in 2021. He lost on points so he’s tough and game and if you’re not at 100% he’s going to find you out,” he warns.
Looking forward to Saturday night, Gary Cully told us, “I’ll feed off the crowd. I’ll enjoy the walk out and I’ll soak it all up but once my head crosses the ropes I’m not looking outside them. The ring walk will be something special. I’m then looking forward to sitting down with my team on Sunday morning and enjoying a victory with them.”
I would like thank those who support me including Nolan Transport, Cross’ Centra, Sli Beatha Floathouse, Infinity Recovery, Maynooth, Naas Racecourse, DC Autos, O’Donnell Physiotherapy, Full Circle Hemp and New Dimensions Active.”
We wish Gary and Dennis the Very Best Of Luck for Saturday night.