Martin “Iron Man” Rogan makes his eagerly awaited comeback from injury this Saturday exactly a year to the day since his last fight. The hugely popular Belfast heavyweight returns to action on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night: Big Bang Theory at the University Arena in Limerick and he admits that he's almost as excited by the main event on Saturday as he is by his own ring return.
The European Super Bantamweight title clash between Limerick's own Willie “Big Bang” Casey and Dublin's Paul Hyland headlines the event which is live on RTÉ Two's Pro Box Live from 9.15pm as for the first time ever two Irishmen clash for a European title and Rogan believes it's a fight that's too close to call.
“I just can't separate them to honest,” said Rogan. ”I think it will come down to whether or not Willie will prove too strong too or if Paul proves to be too slick. Willie's going to try and be in Paul's face constantly but Paul has so much boxing ability that it's a real toss up and too hard to call.
“I think the key to the fight will be for both guys to stick to their game plan and I think whoever gets to execute their game plan will come out on top. It's a great blend of styles and personalities and it's a fantastic opportunity for both lads.
"Willie won the Prizefighter like myself and he has been able to leap frog into the title picture off the back of that but I also know Paul from the amateurs and he's a very clever boxer so it's one Im really looking forward to and it's so difficult to pick a winner.”
Rogan is planning on providing some fireworks of his own on Saturday as he looks to relaunch his career and continue his incredible “Rocky” story by bouncing back from a career threatening neck injury that led to him requiring a three and a half hour discectomy fusion operation in January.
“I'm so excited about getting back into the ring again and getting on with things,” said Rogan. “Everything has gone brilliantly in training. Even though the neck felt fine and the doctors had given me the all clear it's always in the back of your mind until you actually get back in he ring and start sparring and really put it to the test but things couldn't have gone better.”
In fact Rogan feels that the year out of the ring may ultimately help to prolong his career. “When I look back at the eighteen months from winning the Prizefighter to the second Sam Sexton fight it was crazy trying to squeeze all that in. I won the Prizefighter, then beat Audley Harrison and then went on to stop Matt Skelton all in the space of ten months.
"I should have taken a break at that point but it was straight back into the gym the week after the Skelton fight to start training for the first first Sexton fight. My body was crying out for rest and I knew it but I didn't listen. All those fights were tough, physical battles and by the time of the Sexton fights everything had just caught up with me.
“I feel refreshed now from having had the year out. The batteries are fully charged again and I'm ready to go and I won't stop until that Heavyweight title belt is strapped around my waist.”
That glorious ten month spell starting in April of 2008 saw Rogan win the first ever Prizefighter tournament, defeat Audley Harrison and then knockout European and Commonwealth Champion Matt Skelton in a thriller. At the time his win over Harrison seemed to signal the end of the road for the Olympic Gold medallist but Harrison has since put together a run of wins to to line up an all English Heavyweight World title clash with David Haye in Manchester on November 13th.
“You have to give Audley for turning things around after I beat him, he's gone on to win a Prizefighter since and win the European title and that's landed him the World title fight. Obviously the smart money is on David Haye to keep his title but with heavyweight boxing you just never know.
“If you look at it logically then Haye should be too fast for him. David has quick hands and feet and sometimes Harrison is very slow getting his shots off. He can't afford to wait in this fight but all Harrison has to do is land the one punch that could turn everything on it's head so that will make things interesting.
"Harrison's been telling anyone who will listen for over 10 years that he's going to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World so this is his time to put up or shut up and if he goes about it the right way then who knows.
“If he does pull if off I'll be first in the queue for a shot at him. Audley has always made a point of telling people that he loves to avenge his defeats but funny enough he's never come looking for me. It would be a natural fight though and I think Ireland would be the place for it. What a night that would be.”
Rogan's return on Saturday is part of a 9 fight card on the Hunky Dorys Fight Night. In other heavyweight action on the bill Cork based Cuban powerhouse Mike “The Rebel” Perez has agreed to step in for compatriot Alexei Collado who has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled fight with a back injury. Limerick has already proved a happy hunting ground for Perez having already recorded 3 stoppage wins at the University Arena previously.
Fellow Cork based Cuban Luis Garcia is also in action with the prodigiously talented 22-year-old taking a massive step up in class in just his eleventh pro fight when the World Junior amateur champion takes on former two time World Champion Byron Mitchell – the hard hitting American is best known on this side of the Atlantic for being the first man to put Joe Calzaghe on the canvas.
An Irish title will be up for grabs in Limerick when Anthony Fitzgerald and Lee Murtagh finally look to get it on with Fitzgerald's Irish title at stake. The duo were scheduled to clash on 2 previous occasions but both encounters were scrapped after Murtagh was forced to withdraw through injury but he will be hoping it's third time lucky on this occasion.
Also featuring on the card is unbeaten Limerick based Galwegian Alan Donnellan and exciting Dublin prospects Brendan Fitzpatrick and Gavin Prunty while Galway's Jon Fogg makes his pro debut against unbeaten Spanish cruiserweight and Kiko Martinez's training partner Ricky Pow.
Tickets for the Hunky Dorys Fight Night: Big Bang Theory priced from €40 are available from Ticketmaster.ie / 0818 719300 and all usual outlets.
Boxing News Tags: Alexei Collado, Audley Harrison, Big Bang, Boxing, David Haye, Fellow Cork, Fight, Fitzgerald Irish, Galway Jon Fogg, Heavyweight, Ireland, Iron Man, Limerick, Matt Skelton, Paul, Perez, Pro Box Live, Ricky Pow, RT, University Arena