After 12 pulsating rounds in this epic Irish middleweight title fight, Luke Keeler was crowned the new champion.
The headline fight lived up to its promise and produced a high-class battle from two highly skilled operators.
Keeler looked to take control of the fight from the start with his crisp and snapping jab. After a close first few rounds, Cruise looked to land combo’s and was timing his left hook counter really well, while Keeler started mixing it up with body and head shots.
Into the fourth and Keeler really put his stamp on the fight, behind his crisp jab he started landing good combinations and seemed to wobble Cruise after one sharp combination.
After the fourth round Keeler appeared to have a cut on his left brow. Maybe this spurred Cruise on, as he had a better fifth, being more aggressive and backing Keeler up and landing good head and body shots and also landed the shot of the round with a big looping right hand.
They seemed to step things up a notch in the sixth, as Keeler looked to gain control of the fight again but had to eat two big shots from Cruise, but Keeler responded in style and looked to hurt Cruise with a counter and then started to land head and body shots.
This continued in the seventh as they both kept up the relentless pace. Cruise landing good crisp eye-catching right hands, and Keeler responded with nice jabs and body shots.
Into the eighth and Cruise looked to be taking over, sensing he might need to start clearly winning these close rounds, he upped the work rate and was more aggressive, with good jabs and combinations.
This continued into the ninth and Cruise landed another eye-catching right hand, snapping Keeler’s head back, but Keeler responded well and dominated the round behind his excellent crisp jab and combinations.
Into the final round, and these two warriors really went for it at the start of the round, both sensing they would need this round to clinch it. Cruise wasn’t landing as cleanly as he was earlier and Keeler looked to be landing the better shots now until Cruise responded with another eye-catching right hand towards the end of the fight.
In what was a hard fight to score with a few very even rounds, Keeler was awarded the victory with a score of 96-95.
KO Boxing News had it – 96-95 in favour of Cruise. But it really could have gone either way depending on what impressed you.
The win gives Keeler his first Irish title and improves his record to 13-2 (5 ko’s), while Cruise moves to 7-6 following the close defeat.