On August 3rd, Dublin native Luke Keeler took on Luis Arias relatively close to home in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Irishman wasn’t supposed to win the fight, Arias was the favorite coming into the bout and many saw it as a huge step up for Keeler. Keeler seized the moment and took a huge unanimous decision away from Arias in front of the Belfast faithful.
Irish fight fans are rabid for their hometown athletes, like Michael Conlan, who fought just before Keeler. A good bit north, Keeler felt just as welcome. “Felt like second home to be honest,” says Keeler of fighting in Belfast. “I was really comfortable and couldn’t have got a warmer reception and bigger welcome than if was my hometown of Dublin. I’ll always be grateful to the Belfast public for there backing on support throughout fight.” And support them, they did. After the first round knockdown, the crowd went ballistic for Keeler as the fight went on.
How It All Went Down
Keeler started off strong in the first, coming out with his hands high and his stance wide. Less than a minute in, he dropped Arias with a left hook. The look on Arias face was of pure confusion, he was the favorite. How did he get dropped? At that point Keeler knew he was in for a good night. The first round waged on and in the waning seconds, Luke Keeler’s constant pressure paid off, tripping up Arias, and giving the judges a lasting impression. As the boxers walked to their respective corners, they bumped and Keeler let out an audible roar, seeming letting his opponent know that he was in control.
The second, third and fourth rounds were a little more tame than the fourth. Luis Arias showed fantastic composure and come in to win a round or two. He wasn’t head hunting, just working his game. Towards the end of round four, Keeler was finding his groove. He landed a few good combos that really got the crowd on their feet.
Round five was rough for Luke Keeler. Early on, Arias caught Keeler with a shot that stunned him pretty bad. Arias applied the pressure and had Keeler backpedaling. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Keeler was deducted a point for a shot to the back of the head, something the ref repeatedly warned both fighters about. “He had some clever feints and disguised his left hook well with feints to body but eventually I figured him out made adjustments and dealt with him,” says Keeler.
He knew that he had to answer the negativity with explosiveness. He did just that coming out of the break from the point deduction. He may not have won the round but he had to let Luis Arias know he was still not to be taken lightly. It served its purpose well.
Round six was all about Keeler finding himself again after the little bit of adversity. He used his head movement quite well to avoid Arias’ power shots and take some of the wind out of his gas tank and his momentum built up from the round before. Keeler comes out in the seventh bouncing and weaving, firing shots from the hip while Arias desperately tried to land his shots on Keeler. They back into the corner and Keeler bobs and weaves his way to Arias stumbling from throwing such wide punches. Round seven ends and there is a giant difference in the conditioning of Luke Keeler and Luis Arias. Keeler waves his arms to fire the audience up screaming and Arias returns quietly to his corner.
Round eight, Keeler comes out and establishes dominance again. He pushes the pace now, landing the shots he wants. As the referee separates the two middleweights, the crowd is chanting the customary “Olé, Olé, Olé” that Irishmen love to do and as they do, Keeler raises his hand in excitement in the middle of the round. He knows he’s got the fight in the bag at this point. By the end of the round, Arias is visibly frustrated and loses a point trying to sneak in extra shots on the break.
Round nine opens up explosively as Keeler knocks down Arias less than a minute in. It was a big shot and it looks like Arias was caught off balance, but mentally it was devastating to Arias, and more fuel for Keeler. Arias has to go for broke here and he does. Keeler, knowing he has the round in the bag, dials back on the output to save for the final round, which paid big dividends. Round ten opens and Keeler is just pattering up Arias with shot after shot, touching his opponent frustrating him, and racking up points. Arias won’t lay down, however. He pushes the pace. Keeler uses his footwork and dodges around Arias making a lasting impressions on the judges.
The bell rings and the Irish crowd knows their compatriot has won the fight. The judges, five point difference on the score card.
While he is happy with his performance, Keeler didn’t turn his career around by being complacent. “Loads to improve on,” says Keeler. “I’ll tidy up my defense increase my work rate again and improve my concentration and focus.”
What’s Next, Luke Keeler?
As for the future, there’s no name in particular. With middleweight being as loaded as it is, there are plenty of big fights for Keeler also. “[Give me] Any of the big names in division. I’ve [got] no single name in mind to call out. I just want a top name to step up against and give me drive in training and fear factor in order to focus and step up in levels.” Demetrius Andrade, Gennady Golovkin, Steven Butler, Alantez Fox, and Jeff Horn are the only boxers ahead of him in the WBO middleweight rankings. While there are obviously other big name middleweights out there, Keeler has plenty of options to take for that big payday.
Breaking Down Ruiz-Joshua 2
The world has its eyes on the heavyweight division these days. With names like Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, who draw insane amounts of attention, it’s hard to ignore the big boys. But the biggest fight isn’t Wilder-Fury 2. It’s the rematch between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Anthony Joshua. Ruiz is coming off of one of the biggest sports not just in boxing, but in all of sport history. The fight may or may not be happening in Saudi Arabia. Regardless of the place, the fight is going to happen. “I think it’s a dodgy fight,” Keeler says. “I take my hat off to Joshua for taking it straight away. I don’t think he was himself in first fight [and] I think home advantage and comforts are important. [But I] back Joshua to put things right but wouldn’t be surprised if Ruiz did the job again. His style and fast hands problem for anyone.”
Luke Keeler will be looking to get that big fight soon, riding his momentum built from beating Luis Arias. While this is one of the first interviews that Keeler has given, he’s sure to have many more in the future.