By Gavan Casey
Saturday may mark a defining night for the Celtic Warrior Boxing Gym, as two of Irish boxing’s most prodigious talents embark on the greatest challenges of their respective professional careers.
For Dublin’s ‘Cool Hand’ Luke Keeler, the potential rewards are both more intangible and more important than a £32,000 cheque or retaining a WBO European title; wins allow for continuance of a momentum-driven crusade towards the ultimate goal of any fighter.
“I know the Irish mentality is to go in as the underdog, but that’s not for me. I just go in with a gameplan and do a job.”
It remains a common misconception that lightning can’t strike twice. Of course it can – it just doesn’t tend to strike twice in the same place. 7-0 (5KOs) middleweight Luke Keeler enters Saturday’s Prizefighter tournament in Blackpool minus his influential trainer and cornerman as the least experienced fighter among the chasing eight-man pack, yet is remarkably considered the betting favourite in a field containing four unbeaten potential opponents along with a former Prizefighter finalist.
“I think part of the favourite tag has to do with Jono Carroll winning and Paddy Power losing a bit of money!
But if anything it’s a compliment. I’ll approach it in the same way, I don’t really take any heed of all that.”
Should he repeat stablemate Jono Carroll’s unheralded success in London last September, Eddie Hearn – vociferously impressed by Keeler following his knockout victory in November – may find himself shutting the door quickly behind the talented 27 year old, having already signed Keeler’s victorious Celtic Warrior comrade to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom.
“The biggest thing I took from Jono was how relaxed and confident he was, and that he enjoyed the moment.
His whole attitude was refreshing – he went out, waving and smiling to the cameras, and I’ll be looking to take the same approach.
Regarding tactics, it’s all different on the night.”
With head trainer Paschal Collins on duty for Stephen Ormond’s WBO European title defence against Terry Flanagan in Wolverhampton, in charge of those tactics will be Celtic Warrior Boxing’s dynamic duo of two-time world champion Steve Collins, and the gym’s current middleweight ‘KO King,’ Spike O’Sullivan – a corner team bringing with them a potentially intimidating aura from their opponents’ perspective, alongside their undoubted wealth of experience.
“Obviously I spar with Spike, so he knows me. And I’ve built up a relationship with Steve in the last few months. It’s an honour to have him in my corner, really. The media attention is another positive – having them in the corner draws the cameras and gets people talking, which can only be a good thing.
Steve and Paschal have the same positivity, they bounce off each other. Steve’s a similar trainer to Paschal, and like a second pair of eyes in that regard.
In a three round fight, you’re not going to get more than two or three points across. Stephen Ormond has a 12 round fight and the possible world title shot after it, so his one is a much bigger fight. I completely understand why Paschal has to go over with him. I’m delighted to have Steve and Spike in my corner regardless.”
Sky Sports News HQ hosted the Prizefighter draw, where Keeler was paired against Doncaster’s Luke Crowcroft, 8-1, in his quarter final contest. Should Dublin’s Luke make the final, the tantalising prospect of a clash with hometown hero – 17-fight unbeaten Jack Arnfield – may well materialise.
“It’s a win-win situation for me. I’m in perfect health, I’m on weight. I’m going to go in full-focused and relaxed.
I’m going to enjoy the moment, and get stuck in.
That’s my plan.”
With the potential of entering as a seven fight novice and leaving as a ten-fight unbeaten prospect, Crowcroft and company may need to prepare for the ‘Cool Hand’ of Keeler to strike down upon the Lancashire seaside this Saturday night.
Gavan can be contacted on Twitter: @GavanCasey or at email@example.com
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