A dream that started in a boardroom has taken Dennis Hogan all the way to Nuevo León, Mexico.
Paul Keegan, a long-time associate of the Brisbane-based Irishman, saw a small window of opportunity, citing Hogan’s inactivity and a potential world title opportunity.
With limited resources and a mutual understanding of the end goal, Keegan founded DDP Sports Management, alongside business partner Danny Dimas and Hogan himself.
Although they expected success, the partnership has stretched far beyond their wildest dreams.
“To be frank, when we started, the goal was to only do one show,” Keegan told Aus-Boxing.
“We didn’t have this grand plan, and hopefully Dennis would get picked up by a real promoter. That was the plan, we wanted to get him in the shop window after the first show.
“The feedback we got after the first show, we thought we could keep going and push it all the way.
“The decision was only made after the first show. This was a meeting in my boardroom for one show.
“It’s a bit surreal. When I was over in Ireland, working in my normal job, I was on the phone to Eric Gomez. The last 18 months has been a whirlwind.”
As the poster boy of their fledgling boxing enterprise prepares for the biggest fight of his career against reigning WBO titleholder Jaimie Munguia (32-0, 26 KOs), Keegan speaks calmly about the process.
“Call me crazy, but I’m more confident about Dennis in this fight, then I was with Jamie Weetch,” he explained.
“In that fight, Jamie had everything to win and nothing to lose. Dennis went into that fight as the favourite, I don’t like him being the favourite.
“I want him to have that mongrel when he’s being written off.
“Munguia is only 22, first time in Mexico as a world champion. His focus is to get Dennis out of there as quick as possible.
“Dennis used to be a big boy and has experience getting hit by big boys.”
Despite the expectation of a hostile crowd greeting Hogan (28-1-1, 7 KOs) at Arena Monterrey, Keegan is forecasting the weight of expectation to serve as a burden.
“The crowd will start to get on the back of Munguia after three or four rounds,” he explained.
“The pressure will be immense and I don’t think he’ll handle the pressure. I think he’ll crumble. For a 22-year-old to fight in his hometown, I don’t think he can handle it.
“Dennis is going to go there and spoil him, not at this age. He’s only a baby in boxing. It’s horrible for him.”
A change in mentality, primarily due to the influence of Hogan’s trainer Glenn Rushton, has seen the former world title challenger experience a career rebirth.
As Keegan revealed, a winning approach has breathed live into Hogan’s world title preparations.
“The change in Dennis has been drastic, being their fourth fight together,” he added.
“The difference where I’ve really seen change is in his mentality. He’d go into fights with the idea of not losing, whereas Glenn has a winner’s mentality.
“It’s taken a few fights to get it out of Dennis. You see with Jeff Horn, and now with Dennis, he’s taking those risks now. That mentality is about finishing fights and being aggressive.
“People say there’s no power, but there’s a focus on it now.
“Dennis is constantly in the gym and they’re always in camp to some degree. He was already ticking over, and we knew that it was going to Mexico.
“They just turned the just dialled it up and we’ve gone from there.”
Photo: Click Mick Photography