Keeler insists victory over Arias will pave the way to a shot at the big time

By Stephen Leonard

WBO European Middleweight Boxing champion Luke Keeler insists victory over Luis Arias is a must if he is to earn his shot at the big time.

The Ballyfermot man will face off against the highly-rated American on the Féile an Phobail card in Belfast on August 3. that will be headlined by the clash of Michael Conlon and Diego Alberto Ruiz.

Luke Keeler Pro Nite Boxing 10

Luke Keeler is preparing to take on highly-rated American Luis Arias in a fight that that could open the door to a World title shot for the Ballyfermot man. The two face-off on the Féile an Phobail card in Belfast on August 3.

The fight will mark Keeler’s first outing since winning back the European crown with a second victory over Conrad Cummings in the Ulster Hall back in March.

And it is one the 32-year-old firmly believes he needs to win if he is to harbour realistic ambitions of eventual global glory.

“I don’t deserve to call for a world title fight unless I beat him, and the way my team is talking, I could be just one more fight away from that” Keeler told The Echo.

“I’m ranked sixth in the WBO and 12th in IBF and a win here would move me up a couple of spots and open doors across all organisations.

“He [Arias] is a good guy, but very beatable if I get my tactics right. He doesn’t do anything exceptional, he just does everything correct.

“He went the distance with Daniel Jacobs and was beaten by him in the end, but it’s his only loss” he pointed out.

Keeler boasts an impressive record of 16 wins and one draw from his 18 professional bouts so far and has grown in confidence after having taken up boxing full-time.

“I’ve been full time boxing for a year and half now and it’s all about building momentum” insisted the Dubliner.

“I keep learning under Pete [Taylor], little adjustments that make me all-round a better fighter. I feel it’s all coming together.

“I’m working on my work rate. Before I started full time training I didn’t have an engine and it became a mental thing, where I didn’t go as hard as I could have because I might not have the energy in the later rounds.

“There were times in the Cummings fight where I could have forced it more and stopped him, but it was just that mental thing.

“Now all of a sudden I have an engine and the fitness is there. I have to be giving it everything. I have to be getting those wins in three minutes and not worrying about whether I have the gas, because it’s there.

“I’m 32 now, but I’m a fresh professional with no damage from professional or amateur boxing” he was quick to emphasise.

What’s more, Keeler feels he will benefit from strong support in a city in which he has already fought five times as a pro, including his last four outings.

“I’m really looking forward to the fight. It’s the co-main event, there’ll be about 10,000 there and it’ll be televised by BT Sports and ESPN.

“I’ve boxed in Belfast before and I have to say the crowds have been great for me. I think there’ll be a great atmosphere there at this show and they’ll really get behind me” he predicted.

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