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Manager Mark Dunlop tried to talk Darren Cruise out of Luke Keeler Irish title fight

Manager Mark Dunlop says there was no stopping Darren Cruise from fighting Luke Keeler for the Irish title in the National Stadium on June 24th.

The MHD promoter and successful Belfast manager felt it made more business sense to let a fight that has been spoken about for almost a year now simmer that bit longer.

However, Dunlop revealed yesterday that when it comes to the Irish title – money doesn’t come into Roscommon’s only pro fighter’s thinking.

The Westerner has been more vocal than most in recent times about his desire to be crowned champion of the Ireland and Dunlop claims he is motivated by pride and glory rather than financials when it comes to all things green strap.

“I tried to talk him out of this fight,” Dunlop admitted at a National Stadium-hosted press conference yesterday to promote the Red Corner card.

“I really think it’s a cracking fight that could be worth more down the line. But this isn’t about money, it’s about pride for Darren and winning that title.

“Honestly he would have fought for free, that is what this means to him. Both turned down huge purses to fight on Sky in this fight. They are men of their word.”

Cruise’s manager is excited about the clash and believes it’s TV worthy. Like many others, he felt it was a perfect fit for Matchroom’s Sky Sports-broadcast June 10th Belfast show.

However, apart from wanting to honour a commitment made to Red Corner, Cruise wanted to beat a top level middleweight in his backyard and claim the title at the venue he won all four of his amateur National titles.

“Darren wanted to come into the lion’s den and win this title,” Dunlop continued.

“Believe me, I wish I was promoting this fight. I wanted it in Belfast. It is one of the best Irish title fights in a long time similar to James Tennyson and Deco [Geraghty]. It is definitely worthy of TV.”

Dunlop was in defiant mood at the top table and despite trying to talk his fighter out of the clash – for financial reasons – he believes Cruise can win a fight worthy of a lot more hype than it is receiving.

Indeed the Belfast manager, who also guides the careers of James Tennyson and Paul Hyland, went as far as to question Dubliner Keeler’s chin – albeit in a roundabout way.

“Everyone that knows me and knows how I work knows I wouldn’t put my fighter into a fight I don’t believe he could win,” he stated.

“We know this isn’t an easy fight, but we think Luke’s team are underestimating Darren.”

“Okay he has some loses, but if you compare his defeats to Luke’s there is one thing that stands out, Luke’s defeats come because he was hurt and is susceptible to a punch.”

“Darren isn’t the biggest of punchers and I see it going the distance, but it’s possible he could hurt Luke.”

frayne carpentry


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years