Martin Rogan: The Underdog

February 24st 2009 – By Irish Paddy Cronan, Martin Rogan has always been an underdog. Going into the Prizefighter Tournament last April, few outside of his coach John Breen and Martin himself would have given him a chance. They sat down and talked however, about what path his career would take if he were to win. That’s when Martin stopped John from talking and created his mantra, “when I win”..

Together, Martin and John drew up a blueprint for success. Prizefighter takes place in a format of three fights consisting of three, three minute rounds. As such they decided they would treat it like an amateur match and go hard in the first round, conserve energy in the second and finish strong in the third. This proved to be highly effective as Rogan swept away all challengers put in front of him, including the favourite David Dolan, who he floored twice in the final and went on to defeat in a unanimous decision.

After the fight, Dolan who won Gold at the 2002 Commonwealth games, asked Martin for a rematch. Rogan’s reply was food for thought, “You’re not a heavyweight. ” He went on to explain that David’s frame would fare better at Cruiserweight. It seems David has taken this advice and has had three fights around the 200lb mark and has won two and lost one. His loss came by way of a unanimous decision against Robert Norton in a Commonwealth cruiserweight title fight.

2000 was a landmark year for two fighters. The first was Audley Harrison who won the Gold medal at the Olympics at super-heavyweight, the second was Martin Rogan who was only starting his amateur career. As Big Rogie was sitting at home watching the Olympics he had no idea that eight years later he would be doing battle with A-Force in a professional contest in London. Again, Martin and John sat down to create a formula for winning. Again Martin’s mantra of “when I win,” was used. Assistant coach Eamonn Magee, who was the first boxer to floor Ricky Hatton, was called in as a sparring partner because Martin had never fought a southpaw professionally. Martin looked on Audley as a barrier between him and further success as a professional, and he was not going to let the 6′ 5″ Englishman stand in his way. Again, no one gave him a real chance, with many predicting that A-Force would box his way to a boring UD win. Frank Warren however, had promised Rogie a title shot if he could somehow beat Audley.

With motivation such as this, Rogan was not about to let the opportunity slip through his fingers. As soon as he came out to the ring he could hear the Irish contingent shouting Olé Olé Olé Olé. He soaked up the atmosphere and knew this was his time…he would emerge victorious. He rolled up his sleeves and set about outworking Harrison. Before long the entire crowd was behind the Big Belfast man. The chants of Olé had filled the venue to the point of becoming outright deafening. On his way back to the corner Rogie glanced at Frank Warren, who was looking around in amazement at all the British fans who were getting behind the Irish prospect. Martin used this energy to win the fight 96-95 on the referee’s scorecard. Martin had proved the experts wrong again.

As soon as the fight was over Rogie only had one person on his mind, Matt Skelton. Skelton was scheduled to fight for a European title two weeks after Harrison was vanquished, and this date could not come quickly enough. Skelton won as his opponent Paolo Vidoz retired in the 9th round.

It appeared as though Rogan would now get a shot at the European title, and true to his word Frank Warren made the fight. It however would not be so simple, as is often the case in boxing, politics got in the way. The fact that Rogan was not in the EBU’s top 10 meant that he was not eligible to challenge for the title. As such only Skeltons’s Commonwealth crown will be at stake. When asked how he felt about the Euro title not being on the line, Rogan is pragmatic in saying it doesn’t make any odds as when he beats Skelton he would be installed as number one contender. Matt Skelton would then be stripped of the title.

Life has never looked better for the Belfast heavyweight, it is certainly a far cry from 2007 when he struggled to secure fights. Looking to the future, the dream of fighting in the Kings Hall in front of a sea of green, white and orange mixed with blue, red and white spurs him on.

Going into this fight on the 28th of February, Martin will again be playing the role of underdog, again the boxing experts will predict him to loose his 0.

As I finished the interview with Martin a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte springs to mind “ Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.” In Martins case this has never been truer with John Breen and Eamonn Magee behind him impossible is nothing.

Alongwith “Iceman” John Scully, “BigTime” Tim Kudgis and Suge Green, “Irish” Paddy Cronan is part of the On The Grind Radio team. OTG Radio is live at 8pm est/5pm pst Sundays and Thursdays (1am UK, Mondays and Fridays) right here on eastsideboxing, listen to past episodes by clicking the “On The Grind Boxing Radio” button.

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