Pete Taylor not surprised by Luke Keeler's convincing victory over Conrad Cummings

Luke Keeler goes on the front foot against Conrad Cummings during Saturday's WBO European middleweight championship bout at the SSE Arena. Picture by PA
Neil Loughran at the SSE Arena

CARL Frampton will get all the headlines for his superb show against Nonito Donaire, but arguably the best performance of the night came three fights earlier as Luke Keeler put on a masterclass to see off Conrad Cummings.

The Dubliner suffered two badly cut eyes around the midpoint too, but it didn’t seem to faze him as he coasted to a convincing victory over pre-fight favourite Cummings, who just never settled into the fight.

Keeler settled into the fight from the first bell, looking relaxed and seemingly landing at will with some beautiful uppercuts and check hooks. Cummings, on the other hand, looked nervous and tentative as he struggled to get into range to land anything meaningful on the 30-year-old.

Even when he did, the Coalisland man waited too long to pull the trigger, by which point Keeler was landing eye-catching combinations to head and body, using his superior footwork to create angles of attack.

It is a bitter blow for Cummings, a second defeat in his 16 fight career, and altogether more convincing than the highly controversial split decision loss to Ronnie Mittag two years ago.

Despite his own personal disappointment, the 26-year-old sportingly applauded his opponent as the scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 99-91 were read out, handing Keeler the WBO European middleweight title and a win that could re-energise his career.

Few would have expected it to be so one-sided in either man’s favour, but Pete Taylor in Keeler’s corner wasn’t surprised how the fight transpired.

“I was confident,” he said.

“We studied him and we knew what to expect. I just thought Luke would be too physical, and I couldn’t see a distance we could get beat at - long, middle or close.

“We had good tactics, we had a great camp. Luke’s a great trainer, and we had no excuses going in. It’s the first time Luke’s trained full time for a fight and you could see the difference in him.”

A fast start gave Keeler a great platform to work from and even after picking up those nasty cuts above both eyes, he still retained control by pot-shotting on the back foot.

“I wanted to win the first four or five rounds and then you only had to steal a few rounds,” added Taylor.

“When he got the cut eyes we had to change tactics, we had to go to plan B. If he hadn’t got those cut eyes, I think he probably would’ve stopped him.

“The cut man [Niall Byrne] did a great job controlling them and then Luke was clever enough, he tried to stay out of trouble those last two or three rounds.”

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