Keenan fought the game Edward French on the George Groves v Eduard Gutknecht undercard at the Wembley Arena. A tough fight, the 19 year old overcame this test in a competitive four rounder, taking a 39:37 points win.
French however was just one of the tests faced by Keenan in his fourth pro bout, with both physical and mental issues threatening to derail his game plan. The Ladbroke Grove fighter carried a severe hand injury into the fight, and was then tasked with being the dreaded ‘swing bout.’
After the win, Keenan spoke to Irish-Boxing.com and described how “looking back on it, I shouldn’t have really boxed. I hurt my hand in the last fight. I got an x-ray after the fight, and I had fractured it [left hand] in two places. If it wasn’t as big of a show I wouldn’t have boxed, if it was at the York Hall or something I would’ve pulled out, I wouldn’t have bothered.”
French forced Keenan to dig deep and fight through the pain barrier in a contest which saw him drop his first round as a professional. The Rebel explained how “the whole training camp was with my right hand and the fight tonight was meant to be all with my right. It was just jab, jab, jab, that was the plan – but he was rushing in, I couldn’t just keep him off with the jab, so I had to catch him with a couple of left handers.”
On top of his hand, Keenan also had to deal with a long delay before his fight. The teenager is a huge ticket-seller, bringing a crowd of 550 to see him box on Friday, and was therefore left till after the main event to ensure a good attendance for the Channel 5 cameras. While it provided a good atmosphere for the Groves bout, it left Keenan in an unenviable position, and he described how “me and Dean [Richardson] were both floaters, so we were in our gloves ready to go from 6:00pm and we didn’t box till just before twelve.”
“So that was mentally draining, I was sitting here for five hours just looking at the wall. I was going up and down, up and down, going through the fears, getting up for it, then back down, I was mentally drained.”
Nevertheless, Keenan was still happy with his night’s work which saw his close out his first year as a pro fighter with a perfect record of 4(0)-0, noting how “I still got them four rounds in, I still felt comfortable in there, I still got the win.”
Photo Credit: Natalie Mayhew