By Andrew Walker - Since he burst into our consciousness by dramatically winning the inaugural Prize Fighter tournament early last year, boxing fans have taken Martin Rogan to their hearts in the UK. He was roared onto to his wins against Englishmen Audley Harrison (mind you Harrison would get booed by his own family such is his unpopularity) and Mat Skelton by the English fans who loved his attitude and style. Not the greatest boxer technically but Rogan has an exciting march forward style and plenty of heart. The Belfast man got 100% out of himself in both of those fights and the crowd and TV audiences appreciated it..
Still driving a Taxi for a living back home in Belfast, Rogan was down to earth and very likeable for the average man in the street whether he hailed from Essex, Manchester or Dublin. Rogan was also not your typical gallant loser type that we Brits tend to admire so much. He was a winner and although the Klitschkoís would always be out of reach for a man of Roganís size and ability he had/has a very realistic chance of becoming an European heavyweight champion and possibly fighting for a world title that one of the K2 brothers do not hold such as the WBA.
All of this has currently been put on hold after losing a controversial decision against Sam Sexton last May when Rogan made the first defence of his Commonwealth heavyweight title against the Norwich man in his home city of Belfast. I wonít deliberate further the differing views on what happened that night as it has been much documented already. Suffice to say a large section of the boxing public felt Rogan had been hard done by with the stoppage, whilst some felt that Sexton was winning the fight before hand anyway. Whatever your own views on that decision we all agree that there is unfinished business between the two.
When the rematch was announced Rogan fans breathed a sigh of relief believing that their man will regain his belt by brutal KO and continue on his march to British and European honours. The Sexton camp feel that they will have an easier night of it this time in the same arena that they snatched the Commonwealth belt from Rogan in the first place. Iím not sure the local fans will be giving Sexton such an easy time after the events of the previous fight though. Itís not like they made him feel welcome in the first fight now is it.
But what has surprised me is the way Martin Rogan has conducted himself in the promotion of this rematch. Gone is the calm but confident affable man to be replaced by a trash talking bully more in line with James Toney than the Martin Rogan we have all come to admire. If this has all been some sort of cheap stunt then it was ill advised in my opinion as it will only damage Roganís appeal to the average man in the street. The fight does not need to be hard sold (news coming in that Alex Arthur will be on the under card) as this is one promotion that the UK boxing fans are hotly anticipating. I Ďm excited to see this fight and Iím sure plenty of others are too. But that was the case before any of Roganís smack talk.
I was disappointed to see him behave in that manner during the press conference and as has been pointed out by boxing writers more learned than myself an angry fighter usually makes a bad fighter. You need to be as calm as possible inside that ring and above all try to avoid frustration. It saps both your energy and concentration. And let us all be honest now Rogan was having difficulty dealing with Sextonís speed and movement in that first fight. The last thing he needs to do is charge across the ring come the opening bell and walk into one of Sextonís combinations.
I can understand that Rogan feels he owes Sexton and is champing at the bit to go prove to all that he is the more determined man but his recent outbursts and claims have left him looking foolish. If Sexton was to do a number on Rogan because the Irishman has worked himself up into a frenzy he will find the road back to decent paydays a lot harder than it is now. Interest wanes after a few losses as former opponent Audley Harrison is now currently finding out.
Martin Rogan should do what he does best. Be himself. We all like that guy and thatís what sells tickets.