The Newry welterweight, who turned 21 last week won the Ulster Elite Senior title with a stunning knockout of Tiernan Duffy at the Ulster Hall and immediately turned his attentions to the Irish Elites.
Runner-up to Galway’s Kieran Molloy last year, McKeever feels he has come on massively in terms of strength, ability, and belief.
The Holy Family Drogheda puncher has represented Irish internationally and looks to have filled out into the 69kg well following suggestions last year from Andy Lee that he should consider dropping down in weight.
“I’ve put a lot of work in, a lot of work in the gym, a lot of sacrifices,” McKeever told Irish-Boxing.com before reflecting on 2018.
The foundations have been laid for a breakthrough, he feels, and he explained how “I think it was all stepping stones to this year.”
“Last year, finishing runner up, that gave me a bit of belief in myself, it gave me what I needed to look forward in this sport, and I’m planning to take it all this year.”
“One hundred percent [I’m entering the Seniors], I’m going to make a statement there,” he added ahead of the crucial tournament.
The finish on Saturday was spectacular but there was concern for Duffy.
Thankfully, the Clonard fighter suffered no major physical damage and the respectful teenager would visit McKeever back in the dressing rooms afterwards.
There were no hard feelings and McKeever, who described the shot as “the best punch I’ve ever landed”, has wished Duffy well.
“Unfortunately, that’s the other side of boxing,” he said.
“There has to be a loser and to lose like that isn’t nice for anyone but that’s part of the sport.”