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Luke Keeler credits cut-man for six-second fight-saving miracle

It was more dominant than anyone could have envisioned from bookies underdog Luke Keeler on Saturday night as he won an Irish derby to claim the WBO European title and gain a world ranking.

However, after a wide points win over fellow Irish middleweight Conrad Cummings, the bloodied Ballyfermot fighter revealed he was just six seconds away from a cruel defeat.

Keeler suffered two bad cuts just above both eyes and it seems that, but for the magic touch of Niall Byrne in a tiny window, he could have been denied a massive breakthrough win.

The 31-year-old revealed that, post fight as he was being stitched up, the ringside doctor told him he was instructed to stop the fight and was seconds away from calling a halt to proceedings, but for the Dublin cut man’s intervention.

While Keeler argues both cuts were caused by head-clashes, one was ruled to be from a punch and the other from a head clash – meaning, if the doctor had stopped the contest, it would have been a technical knockout loss or a technical points decision depending on which cut was deemed the fight-ender

It could have spelled disaster for a fighter who put in a career-best performance and he was full of praise for ‘Fats’, a man Craig O’Brien also claims was influential in his career, when speaking to IFL TV after his win.

“The doctor was saying there when he was stitching me that they wanted to the stop the fight, but the cuts man Niall Byrne did a great job so thanks to him.”

“The ref called the first one a punch and I wasn’t happy with that, but I don’t think it was deliberate it was just a clash of the heads.
“It’s little decision like that and little bits of luck like that as well. He was told to stop it and within the five or six seconds he [Byrne] had the blood stopped and I pick up that belt now.”

The belt does open doors for the Irish champion and he wasn’t afraid to lay out a plan that would see him face Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO world title minutes after securing his world ranking.

The Pete Taylor-trained former Prizefighter contestant knows there is still some work to be done but is open to forcing his way onto the man who took the title off Andy Lee.

Keeler outlined how “the title gives me a ranking and I beat Conrad well, a Dublin lad coming up here and it was a good performance. I am looking to push on.”

“I said that at the press conference that I want to take this belt and push on now. I don’t know how long I will be out with these cuts.”

“Hopefully I will get out at the end of August there has been talk of Frampton for that date. Windsor Park would be a nice one and maybe a top 10 guy in the WBO and – if Billy Joe is hanging around Canelo and Golovkin look like they might be fighting, so he might need a voluntary after Martin Murray, the lads keep things in house and you never know what could happen there.”

“I am not at that level yet, but I’ll stay full time I can work toward it.”

A qualified engineer, Keeler has been mixing boxing and a full-time career since he turned pro. The former St Matthew’s and Crumlin amateur changed things up at Christmas and claims there is no coincidence his biggest win and best performance came after his first ever full time pro camp.

“It was the first time I trained full time,” he explained.

“I gave it everything. I gave up my job at Christmas and it pulled me through. Pete’s plan was to win the first six rounds and then coast the cuts hampered that a bit. I hurt him at a couple of stages, but I didn’t follow up, but I am only getting going in terms of training full time and I will push on from here.”

Watch Luke Keeler’s interview with IFL in full below:


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