Disrespect seemed to be the theme of the build up, but Luke Keeler now claims he has nothing but the utmost respect for hard-headed ‘hard man’ Conrad Cummings.
The Ballyfermot middleweight felt his Friday night Ulster Hall opponent had belittled his victory in the pair’s first outing in the build-up to their rematch, whilst the Coalisland native took exception to Keeler tagging him in a tweet..
However, after sharing 20 rounds with his managerial stablemate over two fights, Keeler claims he can’t but admire the man he twice dominated to becoming WBO European champion.
It didn’t take long for the 31-year-old to transition from the in-ring killer back to one of the nicest guys in boxing after Friday’s main event and, following a win that should see him crack the WBO top 10, he was keen to give ‘Mr Dynamite’ his dues.
In fact, after burying some of his best shots into the head of the 27-year-old and watching on shocked as Cummings still tried to march forward, Keeler claims he couldn’t but bury the hatchet.
The Pete Taylor-trained middle pointed out Cummings took heavy punishment at various stages in the fight, far more than in their first meeting, and gave him massive credit for his bravery.
“I thought I hurt a few times at the start, but credit to Conrad he has a hard hard head. He is a tough man,” Keeler said in the dressing rooms after the win.
“He kept taking big shots. I don’t think I was fading show he took big shots early and late in the fight.”
“He didn’t give me any credit and he was saying this 10 out of 10 stuff and I won’t win the lotto, but look I can’t disrepect him because he is such a tough man and we had two hard fights,” he added before backing the Jamie Moore-trained fighter to come again.
“I know he will come again. I know he will be disheartened and it will be hard for him, but I am sure he will come back from that. Hopefully he does. He is younger than me isn’t he? He can come back.”
Keeler won by a wide margin and looked dominant both early and late on, but he admits the Tyrone man gave him some cause for concern in the middle rounds.
“He came on strong in the middle rounds and I thought I pushed on and won the last two,” admitted ‘Cool Hand’..
“There were a couple of dodgy moments and if I didn’t have it in the tank he could have closed the gap. He is a determined man, this was his whole career and he was fighting for his life in there. I’d say the crowd enjoyed it.”
Keeler looked on course to secure what would have been a statement stoppage in round four, but a massive left hook from Cummings just as the pressure was piling on did make him think twice.
Post the clash he couldn’t pin point that particular moment, but did admit Cummings did carry power he had to respect at all times.
“I never felt dazed or anything, but there were strong shots. I couldn’t jump him that I had to hold back a bit. He is a decent puncher.”