Photograph: Sharon Flanagan

Middleweight puncher Luke Keeler posted the most impressive performance of his career to date last Saturday and now the 27-year-old is ready to push on towards domestic glory. Keeler dropped the usually durable Festim Lama, an Albanian based in London, on three separate occasions to secure an early night at the Holiday Inn.

“It was good but I just rushed it too much at the start and I was a bit over anxious. Once I slowed it down and landed my shots I got him out of there,” said a delighted Keeler after the fight.

“I should’ve been a bit calmer from the first round as that’s the way I usually am when I spar but the emotions got to me and he was tough as well. Once I slowed down and connected, it worked out for me. It’s all a learning experience.”

Dropping his man in the first round was a welcome boost for the young Dubliner who looked better when working behind the jab and letting his punches flow naturally. Once Lama fell in the fourth from the first right uppercut, the writing was on the wall. Moments later a carbon copy landed and referee Paul McCullagh had little option but to terminate Festim’s evening.

“He fell into the right uppercut and he maybe could have gone the distance tonight but I just got that shot in at the right time. I dropped him in the first as well but it was at the end of the round.”

With fellow unbeaten prospect Alfredo Meli also fighting on the card it is easy to draw comparisons between the pair and speculate over a potential future showdown. Meli has also fought Lama in the Holiday Inn and scored his own win (over Dan Blackwell) while headlining this June 6 show. The amiable Keeler is open to discussion but isn’t the type of character to be shouting down his domestic rivals.

“I just take each fight as it comes, I don’t like to call anyone out but if the fight is there then I’ll take it. We’re both prospects and it there’s a title on the line then it probably makes sense. The Irish title would be nice but not at the moment. There’s supposed to be a show in Dublin at the end of July and I’m going to box for a Celtic Nations title. Then maybe one more eight-rounder and I’ll be in for the Irish title.”

With regular trainer Paschal Collins handling Gary O’Sullivan’s bout in America it was left to the rest of the Celtic Warrior gym to control Luke’s corner on the night.

“I’m still with Paschal but he’s in Boston at the moment with Spike. He was on the phone and I got great support from the club with Pat Byrne, Mark Kennedy and Dave McGuire. There was great support coming up from Dublin as well. Tickets and travelling is expensive so it goes a long way and that’s the only way you can fight up here is if you sell the tickets so thanks to everyone.”

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