In November 2014 Eddie Hearn claimed he has seen the birth of a star when he watched Luke Keeler dismantle Gary Boulden in the 3Arena.
However, it took until last Saturday for Irish fight fans to feel that ‘star’ is finally being afforded the platform from which to shoot across the boxing sky.
In fairness, Keeler was afforded the chance to impress in Prizefighter and with a Tom Doran, but injury and inexperience hampered him on both Sky Sports-broadcast nights.
‘Cool Hand’ returned to Dublin on Saturday and not only impressed a sizable crowd at home, but produced a career-best performance which suggested he is ready in terms of profile and experience to make an assault on the capital.
The Paschal Collins-trained middleweight, who buckled the BUI Celtic Warrior title around his waist after victory over former Commonwealth champion Bradley Pryce, enjoyed his Red Corner Dublin experience and hopes to build on the home display.
“There was a great response from the crowd and hopefully it will build,” a relaxed and humble Keeler told press after the win.
“It takes time to build a little momentum, maybe the second or third show you will see that difference. People hear about it and come with their mates the next show hopefully that’s how it works out. Hopefully we can build in Dublin and the lads can run more shows. There is talk about a December 3rd show and a fight on that would be good.”
The Matchroom middleweight might be aided by Katie Taylor in his attempts to expand his fanbase in Dublin. Taylor has also signed with Eddie Hearn and, after two fights in England, there are suggestions she will be have a March homecoming and Keeler sees that as a positive.
“Katie [Taylor] coming back is great news. Being back in Dublin is great. You can’t beat the home comforts. The last few shows were in England, but I’d rather build from the Stadium. If Matchroom came in with a good fight I would jump at it, but I would be glad to stay in Dublin.”
Pre-fight Keeler had talked about learning from his Doran experiences and was keen to show his skill set rather than power against respected operator Pryce.
Following the fight, which he always looked comfortable in, he was content with his performance.
“I don’t know what way it looked but I thought I won most of the rounds. I wanted to go in and box, he likes lads to come at him so I tried to box behind the jab and get him to come onto me. The plan was to box a bit and show defence.”
“He was only stopped four times in 50 fights, that shows how tough he was. If I had been a bit more active of late I think I could have upped the gears and maybe stopped him.”
Pryce is the most decorated and well-known name on Keeler’s record, but the Ballyfermot man claims he would have retired if he hadn’t the ability to beat the veteran.
“I was retiring if I didn’t win, but I didn’t feel pressure. I was relaxed and I just wanted to box. This will give me a lift confidence wise, and in four weeks time I will be flying if there is December 3rd show. I have the confidence about the distance, maybe get an eight rounder or an Irish title fight if they can find someone.”