No longer a case of slim to none, the chances of an out-of-nowhere fight between Luke Keeler [17(5)-2(1)-1] and Conor McGregor [0-1(1)] are increasing by the day.
In fact, speaking to Irish-Boxing.com today, the Ballyfermot middleweight confirmed that ‘The Notorious’ has agreed to fight and that his management have opened talks with a fighter he has labelled a ‘bully’ and a ‘gangster’.
It all stems from the Ballyfermot fighter broke his personal ‘no call out’ rule when he offered to trade leather with the controversial two-weight UFC champion on Thursday.
The well respected and much liked 32-year-old wasn’t the first to namedrop one of the most notorious names in world sport, but did so in anger and not just with his bank balance in mind.
After some rather unpalatable footage of McGregor seemingly attacking a man in a pub emerged, Keeler took to Twitter and offered to put manners on ‘The Notorious’.
There was a personal edge too, as ‘Cool Hand’ alleges that one of his friends was similarly assaulted by the former Crumlin amateur boxer.
By all accounts the call out didn’t sit to well with the MMA star, a one-time clubmate of Keeler, something the current WBO middleweight #5 has been made aware of.
Indeed, after some social media back-and-forths between McGregor associates and Keeler, the Irish champion received a call from the man himself.
Keeler revealed to Irish-Boxing.com that “I don’t want to get into it too much, but I know he wasn’t happy about the call out. He is not happy.”
“The fight community in Ireland is small enough and Crumlin isn’t too far from Ballyfermot- and I heard he wasn’t happy with the timing of,” he said before going into more detail when pushed.
“Okay, he rang me and we had a few words. I told him the fight was there to be made and he was all for it. He agreed to fight over the phone.”
Considering the call was a somewhat heated one between two men who would never back away from a fight, most would surmise McGregor was never going to say no – and that the particular offer to scrap over the phone couldn’t be taken seriously.
However, Keeler reveals things have progressed further since the call.
“I agree it could be just all talk. Whether he has the balls or not to get in the ring again, never mind with me, we will have to see. He could have been just trying to front up or speaking in anger, but it got to the stage where I felt comfortable enough passing onto my management team.”
Like I said, I don’t want to get into that much yet, but I have handed it over to MTK and they’re talking to Conor.”
The Pete Taylor-trained fighter, who has upped his social media game following the response to the initial tweet, has never been one to try and talk his way into a fight. Even when as a stablemate of Spike O’Sullivan he witnessed first hand how a good call out game can advance a career, he shied away from the approach.
Similarly, after his victory over Luis Arias this month he was happy to say he arrived at the world stage, but was never comfortable namedropping any fellow middleweights as potential opponents.
He still holds that mantra and it seems will maintain it for the rest of his career, but claims he is happy to make an exception for McGregor.
“I don’t mind calling out a bully – and that is what is he. As I said I’d be happy to put him in his place. I just think that behavior isn’t right, especially from someone who knows how to use his fists and knows the damage that can be done. Plus like I said in the tweet it wasn’t the first time he has done something like that.”
Whilst Keeler is pushing for the fight and would, like any fighter considering the money that would be involved, be delighted to face his fellow former Crumlin amateur there are those who would argue it’s an impossible dream.
Keeler is no Floyd Mayweather and a fight with him wouldn’t generate the hundreds of millions McGregor may want and, even with talks ongoing, there will be skeptics.
However, ‘Cool Hand’ still thinks it’s possible.
“Well, he called me and he certainly wanted to fight me then. I don’t know how much meant that and really wants to fight. If it’s money he needs, well I am sure any fight McGregor is in would generate a few bob for him. I think there would be an interest in it. A battle of Dublin and a real fight. I wouldn’t look to carry him to make a show of it like Mayweather.”
“With pride on the line I’d look to take him out. Fans would get to see what he is like in a real fight not an exhibition. Plus let him beat a ranked fighter before he starts looking for all these big name stars. If he wants a big name let him earn it like the rest of us have to,” he continued.
“I’d smash him up. He fought a 40-year-old welterweight who carried him for a few rounds then gassed because doesn’t live the life anymore as everyone knows. He will never have balls to step in ring again but I’ll be there if he does. The Irish public have turned their backs on him and would generate huge money people will pay to see him smashed up.”
Bar an exhibition versus Michael McGrane on the Crumlin BC Good Friday show in April, McGregor has not fought since his fourth-round submission loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in October 2018. Prior to this was his first foray into professional boxing in August 2017 where he was knocked out in ten rounds by Floyd Mayweather.
Keeler scored his biggest win yet earlier this month when he outpointed Luis Arias at the Féile an Phobail in Belfast.