From the outside some may consider Luke Keeler [12(5)-2(1)] a heavy, heavy favourite for his Irish title fight at the end of the month – but ‘Cool Hand’ doesn’t see it that way.
The Dublin middleweight takes on Darren Cruise [7(1)-5(0)] at the National Stadium on Saturday June 24th and Keeler wants to win, and win well.
In his last two fights the Ballyfermot man added two impressive names to his résumé in Lewis Taylor and Bradley Pryce, but he wants to put on an impressive performance this time round.
Keeler was disappointed with his preparations and his performances in his last two contests, something he vows to put right on the Red Corner ‘For Honour and Pride’ bill.
The Celtic Warriors fighter described how “there is talk of me overlooking him [Cruise], but that’s not true. This is my World title. I have trained harder for this fight than any fight.”
“I underestimated the last two lads and made it harder work than I should have and I had things going on outside the ring too in terms of work and that. I let myself down.”
“Now there is no point in me scraping wins. I want to be stopping the likes of Taylor and the likes of Darren. Maybe that’s the extra motivation ahead of this one now and why I have worked harder.”
Keeler is looking to make a big statement in the green belt battle and declared that “I predict a win, a good one and a standout performance.”
“I wasn’t happy with my last one. I want to improve every time I get in the ring. So I expect a good performance and a good win. I have put the work in to achieve both.”
“I want people to be leaving the Stadium and saying ‘wow’ rather than a ‘good win’ pat on the back job.”
However, Keeler wont be going into the bout gung-ho – although he does believe that a knockout is a distinct possibility.
“You can’t look for the stoppage,” he noted. “you have to let it flow.”
“I’m comfortable if it goes 10, but if I keep boxing and landing he could go.”
Keeler was complimentary of his opponent, and rates Cruise as being of a similar level to his last two foes – although dismissed some fighting talk from the Roscommon boxer’s manager Mark Dunlop.
“He is up there with Pryce and Taylor,” the 30 year old claimed.
“He is young and I know he is up for this fight. He had a couple of losses early in his career and his record might not look great, but I know I can’t look past him. He is on that kind of level.”
“There was talk from his manager that I am susceptible to a punch, but I was never even down in sparring. Never! I got caught on the back of the head against [Tom] Doran. It can happen to anyone, but I wouldn’t question my chin.”
Photo Credit: Laszlo Geczo