By Rory Fitzgerald
Luke Keeler will be looking to put on an impressive display as he fights for the first time in seven months on a huge night in Leeds. The 28 year old will feature on a stacked undercard on the 5th of September, which will be headlined by local man Josh Warrington’s defence of his WBC International and Commonwealth featherweight titles.
We have not seen “Coolhand” lace on his gloves since February, when he was the hot favourite to win the popular Prizefighter tournament. He won his quarter final on points against Doncaster’s Luke Crowcroft and was then paired with Tom Doran in the semi-finals.
The unbeaten Doran was too good on the night for Keeler, and got the decision 29-28 on all three judge’s scorecards. It was a disappointing night for the Dublin man, but with Eddie Hearn securing the middleweights services to fight with his Matchroom stable, he is well aware that the journey has only just begun. Doran went on to win the final of the Prizefighter, and still to this day remains unbeaten.
There has been plenty of talk around Keeler for the last 18 months. He appears in many people’s lists of the top 10 Irish hottest prospects, and some very shrewd judges have tipped him for success in the future.
With the Doran defeat the only blot on his otherwise perfect record (8-1, 5KO), Keeler will be looking to erase that from his memory – to prove to any doubters that he may have, that he belongs on the big stage. A fight on a Josh Warrington card in Leeds, live on Sky Sports, is the perfect platform for the 28 year old, who amazingly only turned pro just over two years ago.
Keeler won’t have it all his own way though. His opponent is the tough Jason Ball, who will be looking to show that he is better than his record suggests. Ball brings with him a modest 9-19-1 record, and on figures alone it doesn’t add up to much. Take a deeper look into it and you will see he has shared a ring with the likes of Chris Eubank Jnr and Joe Selkirk (albeit early in both men’s
careers). He has only been stopped three times in his pro career so it will be no pushover for the Irish middleweight puncher.
The Ballyfermot man has covered all the angles ahead of this fight, and has got himself top class sparring with Stephen Ormond and Frank Buglioni to fine tune his preparation. It shows that Keeler is taking this fight very seriously, and is cautious of what Ball may bring to the table in what will be a very hostile crowd in Leeds.
A popular lad outside the ring, he will be looking to show his mean streak inside it. A stoppage win over Ball would be the perfect comeback, making Eddie Hearn sit up and take notice of the talent he has on his hands.
All of Dublin and Ireland will be behind Luke Keeler on the 5th of September and as his profile grows, so will his already growing fan base.