Liverpool’s Smith could regain the WBO light middleweight belt if he defeats Sadam Ali in New York May 12th – something Keegan warns isn’t a given – and has said victory would tee him up for massive all-British world title fights with the likes of Khan and Brook.
However, DDP Sports boss Keegan believes, come April 7th, Kildare’s Hogan – after his eliminator with Jimmy Kelly – will be next in line for a tilt and as a result should be foremost in the mind of the Ali vs Smith winner.
“I think Smith is trying to build up a domestic challenge and I understand why,” Keegan told Irish-Boxing.com.
“He has beaten Kelly already and Dennis hasn’t fought in the UK or Ireland yet so he is hoping to get the two big names interested so they can have an all-British world title fight.
“Unfortunately for team Smith if Dennis wins then he leapfrogs those guys as next in line.”
“Also I wouldn’t be overlooking Sadam Ali. I believed he wouldn’t beat Cotto and look what happened.”
It is quite possible ‘Beefy’ may be allowed a voluntary defence if he does overcome the America, opening the door to a possible clash with either of the World known British fighters – although that would mean Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn sitting down to do business.
It is also worth pointing out the Brisbane clash between Hogan and Kelly isn’t a ‘final eliminator’ as of yet, officially, but the promoter is confident considering it’s the meeting of the #2 and #3 in the rankings that the WBO will confirm the winner as mandatory for the brown strap.
“We have written to the WBO requesting that the winner of this fight gets installed as the number one contender. We will have to wait until after the Ali -Smith fight to happen in May before we see a change in the rankings.”
“My comment to the WBO was that there are not many #2 v #3 fights happening anywhere so whoever wins deserves to be next in line,” Keegan added before stressing their focus is first and foremost to get mandatory status and, outside of that, they are not concerned as to whether the Ali-Smith winner can have a mandatory defence.
“I am not sure about [being the first] defence as all we are concentrating on is making sure the winner gets that #1 spot then it takes care of itself.”
Hogan, who is extremely confident of victory over Manchester’s Kelly, has stated he has no preference in terms of who wins the light middleweight crown in Verona in May and his promoter echoed the sentiment in terms of talent.
However, Keegan sees Smith as an ideal opponent when it comes to selling tickets in a potentially massive fight in Australia.
“From our point of view. it doesn’t really matter who wins as I believe Dennis beats both of them. In saying that. if Smith won then we have an Ireland vs England world title fight which could be held here in Australia with the ex-pats from both countries filling a stadium.”
While 32-year-old Hogan can’t afford to look past Kelly [23(9)-1(1)] and his April 14th bout at the Brisbane Convention Centre, Keegan does have a long-term plan in place and, if the Kilcullen man does win a World title, he can see a ‘monster’ card playing out in Ireland.
“I know Dennis’s dream is to win a world title and his first defence to be held in Ireland so if that was the case we would look at working with some of the Irish promoters and bring a monster card home to Ireland,” he revealed before reflecting on how the Aussie-based fan-favourite has done in camp and pointing out some of the fight week activities planned ahead of a massive Spring night of boxing.
“This camp has been the best I have seen, Dennis is so relaxed and happy as the game plan Glenn [Rushton, coach] has mapped out has been perfect.”
“He is just on a different level. They are training to break Kelly down and finish him off, not just win.”
“Team Kelly are now in Brisbane so they have two weeks to go. Next week, fight week we have three big events for boxing fans. We have a public press conference which will be the first time the boys meet face to face, that should be interesting!”
“We are streaming the whole press conference live through our Facebook page too.”
“We have the public weigh in which again will be streamed live through Facebook and of course fight night. We are trying to make this the most fan-friendly boxing experience we can.”
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