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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Stephen Ormond and Luke Keeler can rule the ring

Stephen Ormond, left, exchanges punches with Karim El Ouazghari
Stephen Ormond, left, exchanges punches with Karim El Ouazghari

THE boxers from Dublin's Celtic Warrior Gym are like bloody buses. It's not just that when they hit you, you stay hit. They come in twos.

There are two important fights next Saturday. In Wolverhampton, Clondalkin's WBO European lightweight champion Stephen Ormond defends his title against Manchester's rising star Terry Flanagan. The fight'ds also an eliminator for a shot at American Terence Crawford's WBO belt.

At 25, Flanagan is six years younger than Ormond and unbeaten in 26 fights. His followers believe him when he says, "I'm going all out to take Ormond apart. I'm the bigger, stronger, better and more skilful fighter and it'll show on the night."

Well used to fighting away from home in intimidating settings, champ Ormond (17-1, 8 KOs) isn't fazed. "I know he's training his arse off in Manchester," he says. "But I'm in the best shape I can be. It's going to be a war, an absolute war. Everything's on the line."

Stephen Ormond's coach Paschal Collins says, "Most orthodox fighters hate southpaws and get nervous, but Stephen loves them. He reckons Flanagan is made for him."

113 miles up the M6 from Ormond's fight, Dubliner Luke Keeler will be setting Blackpool alight in Sky Sports Prizefighter competition.

Keeler is one of five unbeaten middleweights on the night. With 7 wins to his credit, he's the least road-tested of the bunch.

In London for Matchroom promo work on Thursday, Luke met the other Prizefighter opponents. "They seemed like nice guys," he says. "We'll get stuck in next week."

Keeler's confidence comes from his supreme fitness. Reports from the gym have him going hell-for-leather in sparring.

"I'm feeling really fit," he concurs. "And as busy and sharp at the end of sessions as at the start. I'm still throwing (punches) non-stop in the ninth round. The vibes are good. I've have my last serious spar today."

A winning performance could see Keeler join Jono Carroll who's signed with Matchroom.

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