n the seventh round the two boxers fell into a clinch and tumbled to the canvas, with Hogan closing out the round with some clean punches to the body.
Kelly had a better round in the eighth with both men exchanging on even terms along the ropes. Hogan banked the ninth round on the strength of a cheeky left hook early, some stiff jabs and a well-timed uppercut, punctuated by two chopping right hands just before the bell.
After a scrappy tenth round trainer Glenn Rushton told Hogan he needed to lift his workrate in the championship rounds, a call to action that produced the desired results. Hogan controlled the action on the strength of his jab and landed a jarring right cross with thirty seconds to go in the eleventh round.
In the twelfth round Hogan almost knocked Kelly through the ropes as both boxers emptied their tanks trying to gain one last advantage before the judges had their say.
The victory puts Hogan in line to face the winner of the WBO junior middleweight world title fight between champion Sadam Ali 26-1 (14) of Brooklyn, New York and challenger Liam Smith 26-1-1 (14) from Liverpool, UK at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York on May 12.
“My eyes will be glued to that fight between Sadam Ali and Liam Smith,” says Hogan, who retained his WBO Oriental title and claimed Kelly’s WBO Intercontinental belt with the win.
After the fight Paul Keegan of DDP Sports reaffirmed his commitment to the sport and desire to bring the big fights to Australia, starting with Hogan’s challenge to the winner of the WBO world title fight between Ali and Smith.
“No longer will Australians be going overseas as cannon fodder. We want to bring world titles to Australia,” says Keegan.
“There are multiple Jeff Horns in this country and we want to do everything in our power to bring the big fights here.”
In the main support bout WBO number nine light heavyweight Damien “Super” Hooper 14-1 (9) had to climb off the canvas twice in the fifth round to stop Renold Quinlan 12-3 (8) in the ninth round of an entertaining and fast-paced brawl.
With his 80-inch wingspan the 26-year-old London Olympian controlled the early action with his long jab and occasional right crosses but the balance of the fight changed early in the fifth round when Quinlan hurt Hooper with a right hand bomb. The Queenslander was up at nine but Quinlan was quickly back on him, bludgeoning him to the canvas for the second time in the round. Hooper was again up at nine, sporting a cut under his rapidly swelling left eye. He did well to survive the round.
The 28-year-old Dunghutti Destroyer came out to close the show in the sixth, landing another big right hand to the jaw of a still visibly hurt Hooper. In an extraordinary turnaround Hooper rallied back, landing enough big shots to the iron jaw of Quinlan to claim the round.
The seventh round featured good two-way action but Hooper regained control in the eighth, landing some jarring uppercuts and hurtful right crosses. His good work was undermined by referee Phil Austin docking a point for hitting behind the head.
In the end the point deduction was academic. The two trade bombs to open the ninth but a right uppercut hurt Quinlan two minutes into the round, sending him staggering backwards to the ropes. Hooper seized the opportunity, teeing off on the teak-tough Quinlan with a two-fisted attack.
Referee Austin stepped in to wave off proceedings at 2:19 of the ninth round.
“There’s a lot of things going on in my personal life. It was a challenge just to get in here tonight. I was crying out there before I came in here tonight,” says an emotional Hooper after the fight.
Hooper retains his WBO International title with the win.
WBO number fourteen ranked cruiserweight Jai Opetaia 15-0 (12) needed just two rounds to despatch Germany’s Lukas Paszkowsky 9-2 (3) in a scheduled 10-round bout.
Paszkowsky was down for the first time at the end of the first round courtesy of a left cross from the 22-year-old southpaw. From there it was just a matter of time. Opetaia dropped the 25-year-old German with another left hand in the second round.
Late in the second stanza an Opetaia combination stiffened Paszkowsky’s legs, prompting referee Phil Austin to step in and save the fighter from further punishment.
“A lot of people said I haven’t got the power. I proved tonight that I can bang,” says Opetaia after the fight.
“I’m the best cruiserweight in Australia. If anyone has anything to say about it, let’s work it out in the ring.”
At middleweight Tim Tszyu 8-0 (6) boxed a composed fight against previously undefeated Kiwi Ruben Webster 8-1 stopping him in the fifth round of a scheduled six round bout.
The 23-year-old son of International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Kostya Tszyu was patient and measured in his attack, showing great accuracy particularly with his right hand against the tricky southpaw.
Tszyu had Webster cut over the right eye in the fourth and kept increasing the pressure with each passing round. After a quick show of infighting that saw Webster’s head snap back from a pair of uppercuts, the New Zealander’s corner threw in the towel.
“I’m here to fight all around Australia. Line them up, I’m ready to go,” says Tsyzu.
Heavyweight Joe “The Gun” Goodall 1-0 (1) had a successful debut against Lui Te’o 2-8-1 (2) stopping him at 2:14 of the first round.
Goodall, a bronze medallist at last year’s World Amateur Boxing Championships in the super heavyweight division, is trained by Glenn Rushton at the Stretton Boxing Club alongside world welterweight champion Jeff Horn and junior middleweight contender Dennis Hogan.
In a fun scrap Deanha “The Silencer” Hobbs 6-0 (4) won a six round unanimous decision over Arlene Blencowe 4-5 (2) despite giving away almost 10-pounds in weight.
Nathan Webber 5-0 (2) needed just over a minute to give Natalius Cipong 4-1 (3) of Indonesia his first loss, dropping him twice before referee Paul Tapley decided he had seen enough at 1:13 of the opening round.
The show opened with a charity match between Australia’s oldest boxer Denis Cherry, 72, and Masters boxing champion Graham Prowse to help raise the $70,000 required so that seven-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer Sean Senbel-Lynch can undergo an operation in the United States that will help him walk for the first time.
The bout, fought under amateur rules, ended in a draw. Former heavyweight world title challenger Alex Leapai was the referee.