By Rory Fitzgerald
It is all go in the life of Dublin Middleweight Luke Keeler at the moment, but it has little to do with his exertions in the boxing ring. Keeler has recently become a father for the first time, and while he admits it can be difficult at times to juggle his family life, a job, and his career, he feels he is now ready to focus on his young family and the sport that he loves.
“I just want to train full time and enjoy time with the kids. I won’t lie it’s been tough. My girlfriend has been amazing taking on nearly all of the work. There are a few more grey hairs than there was 6 months ago though.”
While his life outside the ring could not be going any better it has been a frustrating time for him inside it. He entered the Prizefighter middleweight tournament as the bookies favourite in February and won his quarter final against Luke Crowcroft. Unfortunately, he picked up a broken hand during this bout, but the brave Keeler still competed in the semi-finals losing out to Tom Doran on points.
It would be seven months before the talented puncher stepped back into the ring, comfortably outpointing Jason Ball in a six rounder on the undercard of Josh Warrington vs Joel Brunker. Speaking of the inactivity, Keeler said “I couldn’t use my hand for 6 months after the Prizefighter. It has definitely been a frustrating year for me but I am looking forward to a fresh start and taking my aggression out on my next opponent”.
The 28 year old was a spectator at last Saturday’s big fight night in the National Stadium and while he found it difficult to watch some close friends keeping busy, he was full of praise for the fighters on the night.
“It was hard watching my friends fighting while I am awaiting a date to return. I am delighted to see pro boxing on big stage TV in Dublin and I’m happy for everyone involved”.
Keeler is currently contracted to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable and with that being the case it could well happen that all of his fights could be on the big shows in England. ‘Coolhand’ insists that this may not be the case. “I would love to fight in front of my home crowd as soon as possible, so hopefully Matchroom can organise a big Dublin show soon”.
With Gary “Spike’ O’ Sullivan’s huge grudge match with Chris Eubank Jnr on the 12th of December, Keeler will be putting his fellow Irishman through his paces with regular rounds of sparring over the next three weeks. With promoter Eddie Hearn putting on the show, the proud dad is hoping to be a part of the big night.
“I’m hoping to get on Spike’s undercard. I’m always in the Gym learning and progressing everyday, so I’m just waiting on a date so I can tighten up the diet and start the strength work. In this game opportunities can come at short notice so I have to be ready”.
Another fight that Keeler will have a keen eye on is the upcoming clash between unbeaten middleweights Conrad Cummings and Alfredo Meli for the vacant Celtic middleweight title. Cummings is the heavy bookmakers favourite, but Keeler knows Meli well through many sparring sessions and is predicting an upset in a very close fight.
“This is a real 50/50 fight, but I fancy Meli to cause a little upset. He’s sparring really well and has the biggest workrate of any middleweight I’ve seen. Whoever the loser may be, I’m sure both lads will go on to greater things. An Irish version of Groves/DeGale” claims Keeler.
Regardless of the outcome however, a chance of fighting the winner definitely excites the Dublin native. “I turned pro to be in the likes of these battles, watching two domestic fights in the stadium reaffirmed that so I would be delighted to fight the winner”.
Keeler went on to say “Because of our styles, I think a fight between Cummings and myself would be a great battle in the future and would build up into a huge fight”
While it has been a tremendous year in his personal life, Keeler hopes that 2016 will prove a much better year for him in the ring than the one he is leaving behind. He is hoping that next year will bring about titles, and also revenge against the only man to have beaten him in his pro career.
“I would love to start the year off by getting an Irish title and push on from there. The guy who beat me in the Prizefighter (Tom Doran) has won a British title eliminator so hopefully he keeps doing well. I would love a rematch maybe for an International/Intercontinental type of title by the summer. Maybe get a top 10 ranking also”.
With an abundance of talent in Ireland right now, there are not many who would doubt that Luke Keeler has all the attributes to go right to the very top.