Luke Keeler picked up his first career title in legendary referee Mickey Vann’s last ever bout as a referee.
The Dublin middleweight produced a change of tact and boxed his way to a career best win to become only the second ever BUI Celtic Warrior champion.
The eye catching strap will be a welcome addition to the Keeler mantlepiece, but the fighter himself may prefer the look of the Bradley Pryce’s name on his record with a big green W beside it.
Pryce is a former Commonwealth champion and European title challenger and a name of note which will only help Keeler if, as expected, Matchroom and Eddie Hearn, who Keeler is aligned with, return to Ireland.
The Dublin may be a bit disappointed the Sky cameras weren’t filming this clash as not only did he outpoint a respected puncher he did so comfortably and in a bit of style.
Keeler’s corner more demanded than called for the jab in the first round and the Ballyfermot middleweight followed instructions. The jab was enough to win him the opener, but he did let the Welsh fighter taste his power as the first three minutes came to an end.
Pryce started to march forward in the second, but Keeler seemed to relish the change in tactic as he added a good selection of hurtful shots to his dominant jab.
Pryce, who has gone the distance with some good names, smiled as they landed, but right at the end of the round, and seconds after he tried to apply pressure, he was left frowning.
An uppercut, which was a go to punch for Keeler in the round, stiffened Pryce’s legs before that chopping right the Celtic Warrior Gym puncher loves so well loosened them again.
Pryce fell to the canvas and wobbled to the corner after he rose to his feet and the bell rang.
The third saw Keeler really begin to enjoy himself. A piston jab set up all manner of shot and the bill topper was landing clean with his back hand at will.
The fourth saw the home puncher negate the jab somewhat and despite claiming he was keen to box his way to an eight round point victory before the clash, his fight instinct took over and his big shot desire took over.
He still took the round, but did ship a few shots. The following round saw Pryce walk onto some crisp shots, but he took them and applied pressure in the late rounds. Keeler, however answered the questions asked with some body shots that made the former Commonwealth champion think twice about rushing forward.
Keeler was docked a point in the sixth after former European title challenge Pryce complained about a low blow and the deduction seemed to increase the Welsh fighter’s work rate.
Pryce had his best spell, but still probably didn’t do enough to win the round. The 29 year old Matchroom fighter showed back foot capabilities over the next three minutes and began to put on a bit of show for a sizable crowd.
Keeler, who had only been six prior to his ‘Inception’ clash, saved some of his best till last and produced his best round since the third. There was some show boating, but Keeler was enjoying sailing to a career-best win. It was a jab and move exhibition as the Ballyfermot man delivered on his one sided points win prediction, taking the bout 78-73 on the card