Luke Keeler [16(5)-2(1)-1] knows what’s on the other side of the door that is Luis Arias [18(9)-1-1] and is adamant he is going to bulldoze his way through to the promised land this coming Saturday night.
The Ballyfermot middleweight takes a massive step up in class on the Top Rank card at Féile an Phobail, but is confident he can defeat the American world level operator to put himself in the major title picture.
Indeed, ‘Cool Hand’ says he is going to do a better job on Arias than the only man to beat him, former world champion and recent Canelo Alvarez foe Danny Jacobs.
Achieve that goal and the 32-year-old believes his name deserves to mentioned beside some of the biggest names in one of boxing’s glamour divisions.
“I am going to overpower this fella and dominate him,” Keeler told Irish-Boxing.com confidently.
“He only lost to Jacobs and I am going to beat him better than Jacobs did. Then I can ask and call for fights without being a mouthpiece. Some fighters are calling for world title fights when they haven’t done anything. I am going to put in a performance this weekend that gives me every right to call out these guys.”
Some might be surprised but ‘these guys’ include the likes of superstars Canelo, Gennady Golovkin and WBO world champion Demetrius Andrade.
Push on it and the always respectful Dubliner still can’t bring himself to name drop, but with some inside information from his team he is confident he can get some massive names.
“All the big names. Look I am not going to roar and shout, you know me, but I can ask for them guys. I can ask the team to try make them fights and from what MTK have said those fighters are all looking for opponents. I will be in a position after this performance that will make those kind of fights next.”
For Keeler to be the name linked with such fights proves a sizable shift in the Irish 160lbs landscape.
‘Spike’ O’Sullivan was closest around this time last year and knocked back an offer to fight ‘GGG’ before losing to David Lemieux and dropping to light middleweight.
As emerging middles with the amateur pedigree Conrad Cummings and particularly Jason Quigley were heir to the main middle man throne.
However, Keeler has twice beaten Cummings and with Jason Quigley suffering defeat to Tuerano Johnson last month, the door to becoming Ireland’s leading 160lbs operator has opened for the qualified engineer, who was working full time up and until just over a year ago.
On more than one occasion over the years and from the very start of his pro career, the former St Matthew’s and Crumlin amateur did tell fans via Irish-Boxing.com that he should be alongside Cummings and World Amateur Championship silver medal winner Quigley as one to watch.
However, in true Keeler fashion, that wasn’t something he plans to revel in this weekend. First off there is a much bigger prize on offer than top domestic ranking and secondly the Pete Taylor-trained fighter now sees that both deserved the reputation they took into the pro ranks.
“I was the forgotten man kind of and I might have mentioned it before, but I knew myself what the story was.”
“Being honest I didn’t produce in the amateurs for whatever reason. People were speaking about the lads because they had done it at amateur level and deserved whatever came their way because of that. I didn’t produce because I didn’t put the work in. That’s not the case now and look where I am at.”
“I always knew once I got my head down I would get there. I always had that kind of faith. It’s just snowballing now. Everything I am doing in the gym is working,” he adds before promising a step up in performance live on BT Sport and ESPN+ this weekend.
“I am going to step up in performance when I step up in level. I fought within myself on occasion and when I have to step up I can. This is a new level, but your going to see a huge performance this weekend.”
The Irish title winner got to catch a glimpse of Arias on Wednesday during the public workout and used the time wisely.
Interestingly enough, Keeler watched what most agree is a nothing more than a going through the motions for the cameras process with great interest and noted a few a things he believes he can exploit at the Falls Park on Saturday.
“I always have a look,” he smiles. “I don’t spoof like the rest of them. I seen a few little tells from the work out. A couple of little mistakes and stature wise I can see he is a smaller man than me. I’ll have the size advantage and I happy after after seeing that,” he adds before expanding.
“Close up you can see more things than watching him online. It just reaffirmed my belief.”