Tuesday, May 23, 2023

By Brian Byrne


“I GAVE it all I had. I trained very hard, I kept putting everything in. At the end of the day, that’s all you can do, and I’m proud of my efforts.”

A fairly sanguine Dennis Hogan came back on Sunday morning to his home town of Kilcullen, after losing his IBO World Super-Welterweight title to James Metcalf in Dublin’s 3Arena on the same evening that other boxers on the much anticipated ‘Homecoming’ event, Gary Cully and Katie Taylor, also suffered shock defeats. “All three of us losing, what odds would you give on that?” he wondered ruefully.

The Brisbane-based Kilcullen fighter told the Kildare Nationalist that in the fourth or fifth round of his fight ‘there was a bit of a slump’. “My legs felt very heavy, which is unusual for me. But I always know there’s a part of me will stick at it and get back in, and I did that for a few rounds.” In the last two rounds, ‘which ultimately it came down to’, he recalls he was determined to finish as hard as he could. “In doing that I could have given away a bit of skill and ability. Sometimes you can go too hard.” He also remembers Metcalf’s expression, “he had that look in his eyes that I had when I wanted the world title.”

For a professional fighter, losing goes with the territory. In Dennis Hogan’s case, he remembers that when chasing world titles in the past, losing the first time ‘nearly killed me’. “The second one was hard too. But after I won the world title, I was starting to get a little more easy. I think that when you have kids, you feel that getting home safely to your children is the most important thing.”

Last Sunday, at a more low-key ‘Homecoming’ event in Kilcullen’s Spout Bar than it might have been if he had won in 3Arena, it was too soon to think of what happens next. “These are conversations that happen later, you have a few days off and you try not to burden yourself with things. Look, I love boxing, I’ve loved everything it has brought me in my life. It has been a vocation, but then you have to stop and think. My health is key. My girls are more important than anything. We’ll just have to look at all that and see where we go then.”

Hogan is 38, very much in the older cohort for modern boxers. He’s very aware of the ‘young lions’ coming through, gunslinging their own shots at world titles. “They’re passionate and they want it with everything they have. These guys can come from nothing and they’re fighting for everything.” Hogan feels lucky. He lives on Australia’s Gold Coast and loves it. He appreciates that he has a great family, his partner Brideen and their two daughters Aria and Lola. “And I have my world champion win. I can made a very good educated decision on what happens next.”

Back to last Saturday, was there extra pressure because, like for Katie Taylor, it was his first fight back in Ireland since he went professional? “Well, there’s a massive pressure there. It does affect you and drain you. I’ve been away for 12 years, and I sacrificed everything for so long, I wanted this to be giving back — I wanted it to be about my family and friends. So I gave the extra effort, to do all the interviews and everything else. I know that with Gary and Katie as well, there was so much of a spotlight on us all, and that would drain you a bit. But that comes with the territory.”

But there was something in the air at 3Arena. “After my fight, and Gary’s, I had this feeling that it wasn’t going to turn out right for Katie.”

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