Boxing

Luke Keeler confident of another victory in re-match with Conrad Cummings

Jason Quigley celebrates beating Mathias Eklund (black shorts) at the Copper Box Arena, London on Saturday night
Andy Watters

LUKE Keeler says Conrad Cummings will have nowhere to go if he beats him convincingly again in Friday night’s re-match at The Ulster Hall.

Dubliner Keeler handed out an unexpected one-sided beat-down when the Irish middleweight rivals met for the first time at the SSE Arena back in April last year. Since then, injury meant he had to give up the WBO European title and his loss was Cummings’ gain with the Jamie Moore-trained Coalislander beating Ferenc Berki to win the belt late last year. Keeler intends to get it back on Friday night.

“He is going to come in determined,” predicted the Ballyfermot native.

“This is his world title fight, he doesn’t have anywhere to go after this if he gets convincingly beaten, so he’s going to give it everything.

“I won’t take him lightly but even in the past year since I fought him I’ve gone up levels I believe. I’ve had a full year of training and it’s the first year I’ve had that in my career so I’m really confident.”

Cummings has made no bones about his performance in the first fight and admits “the best man won”. He was the favourite then but the roles have been reversed and Keeler attributes his improvement to working with coach Pete Taylor (father of world lightweight champion Katie) who was an animated presence in his corner that night. Cool Hand’ says linking up with the vastly-experienced coach has had a massive impact on his career.

“I’ve really settled in with Pete,” he said.

“He’s based now in my local gym so it’s two minutes from my house and I’m training twice a day with him and it is really coming together for me.

“Pete really gets you going, he gives you great advice and he’s an amazing motivator.

“He was telling me in the corner that night: ‘You’re dynamite, you’re flying…’ His passion just lifts you and I have that twice a day in the gym and I’m just flying and buzzing with it.

“Having that in your corner, getting that confidence from him… You feed off it.”

Cummings failed to get anything going in the first fight and will to give a better account of himself on Friday night. The Tyrone man (27) has won three out of three since the loss but Keeler doesn’t see any way he can turn the tables.

“Conrad is saying the right things – he’s saying how he’s improved so much,” he said.

“But I was at his last fight against the Hungarian (Ferenc Berki) I was ringside, I was actually commentating and, if anything, he’s stagnant.

“The way I’m sparring and training, I know in my heart that I’m improving so much and he will really need to bring something else (to beat me). II don’t see how he does it – he doesn’t beat me in close, he doesn’t beat me at range… I don’t see how he beat me to be honest so I’m really confident.

“I didn’t feel any of his shots. I think Conrad thinks he’s a puncher moreso that he is – I think it’s his style, he kind of bulls in and he thinks he can hurt people but he was the one who was hurt in the first fight.

“I wobbled him and in that fight I was happy to fight within myself and box but since then I’ve been working on sustaining attacks – second, third phase attacks and having the confidence in my fitness and my engine.

“I won’t be as happy just to sit back and land clean shots and fight within myself, I’m going to step it up again in this fight.”

Keeler has fought at three Belfast venues, including last summer’s Windsor Park spectacular, and says the atmospheric Ulster Hall is neutral ground for this eagerly-anticipated rematch.

“He’s from Tyrone, I’m from Dublin and I have 200 tickets sold for it,” he said.

“It’s a small venue and there a couple of other lads from the south on the show so it’ll be even in terms of support on the night.

“I don’t see it as an away venue, it’s not like I’m going to England to someone’s backyard. I think it’s going to be neutral, I’ve always had a great reception off people in Belfast, shaking hands and saying ‘well done’.

“It’s a great fighting city and they’ve taken to me so I don’t see it as being a negative at all to be honest.”

Keeler turned down an offer to fight Gabriel Rosado in Philadelphia on St Patrick’s weekend but he is ambitious and wants to make a statement with a “world class performance” on Friday night.

“I want to keep stepping up levels,” he said.

“It’s not a sport that you can hang around in, I’m 31 now and I want to step up and test myself. I need to produce a top performance against Cummings to make some noise about that, I can’t scrape through and start talking about world title eliminators, I need to perform at world class level and then I can make some noise.

“That’s my goal, to put in a world class performance, even get a stoppage. Conrad is a tough lad in fairness and if the stoppages comes, it comes; if it doesn’t, it doesn’t but I want to push on and get the title fights.”

 

Friday night’s Ulster Hall bill:

World Boxing Organisation European Middleweight Title: Conrad Cummings (16-2-1) v Luke Keeler (15-2-1)

Light-heavyweight: Steven Ward (9-0) v TBC

Welterweight: Tyrone McKenna (17-1-1) v Oscar Amador (10-15)

Super-featherweight: Tyrone McCullagh (12-0) Miguel Corea (9-21)

Cruiserweight: Steve Collins Jr (13-2-1) v Arturs Kulikauskis (18-39-7)

Lightweight: Gary Cully (7-0) v TBC

Super-middleweight: Padraig McCrory (6-0) v Przemyslaw Binienda (2-23)

Super-lightweight: Sean McComb (5-0) v TBC

Super-welterweight Steven Donnelly (4-0) Chris Jenkinson (11-65-3)

Super middleweight: Alfredo Meli (15-0-1) v TBC

Super-middleweight: Taylor McGoldrick (2-0) v Gianni Antoh (0-2-0)

Super-featherweight v Callum Bradley (debut) v Kamil Jaworek (5-11)

Lightweight: Sean Duffy (debut) v TBC

DONEGAL middleweight Jason Quigley stopped outclassed Mathias Eklund tomove to 16-0 on his UK debut at London’s Copper Box Arena on Saturday night.

Ballybofey fighter Quigley, now coached by Dominic Ingle in Sheffield, had it all his own way and blasted out ragged Eklund who had previously fought for the WBO European Super Middleweight title.

“I’m in the mix right now with Golden Boy, Matchroom, DAZN. You mention those three businesses and you have the likes of Canelo, Danny Jacobs, Triple G, Demetrius Andrade,” said Quigley after his win.

“Four of the top middleweights out there and you have me sitting there at number five in the world under the WBC.

“These lads are all on the horizons and it’s just about me staying focused and continuing to keep climbing that ladder, keep on their heels and try to take their straps in the future.”

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