Midland Area cruiserweight king Chris Keane is a fighter who prefers to let his fists do his talking. But the heavily muscled 27-year-old gets a great opportunity to make a huge statement to the trade on Friday evening when he squares up against Rotherham dangerman Neil Dawson over 10 rounds for the WBO International crown at the Walsall Town Hall.
Last weekend boxing writer Glynn Evans renewed acquaintance with the 2009 ABA heavyweight champion who has raced to ten straight wins in the pros.
Since we last spoke, you’ve banged up two stoppage wins, avenging amateur conqueror and ex British champion Shane McPhilbin (rsc3) to claim the Midland Area title in January then routing Hungary’s Tamas Toth in late April. What did you take from those two fights?
Not an enormous amount, if I’m honest. I’m learning to be more patient; look for the openings and not rush my shots. A professional fight, a career, can change through just one punch.
Of late, I like to think I’ve become a calmer boxer and it’s all kicking in on the night.
Against Shane, I trained for a real hard ten rounder but I actually forgot that there was a belt at stake until it got wrapped around my waist. I don’t like to put added pressure on myself so I try to shut out stuff like belts and focus exclusively on winning the fight.
That Hungarian was one seriously tough dude, the most rugged I’ve faced as a pro. I hit him clean with so many, big, big shots and he just wobbled back a bit. (Veteran manager) Jim Evans told us after that he was well known around the European circuit for his resilience.
On Friday night you’ll get the hardest test of your pro career thus far. What have you seen of opponent Neil Dawson and what assessment do you make of him? What specific problems do you envisage him causing you?
We know that Neil always comes to fight and has a lot of heart. Even when he’s under pressure going backwards, he’s chucking back. He’s a decent boxer with a good left hook. I need to make sure I don’t rush things otherwise I’ll probably end up getting kayoed just like Tony Conquest did. I’ll need to be sharp, use a lot of head movement and get my counters off.
How has your preparation gone? You’ve still not been beyond six rounds in your ten pro fights. To what extent have you needed to increase the intensity of your training?
I’ve been at it non stop since last September and my body has taken a bit of a pounding. My runs are getting longer. I do a couple of five milers a week, mixed in with my sprints. Preparation has been fine. I’ve had some good sparring with Jahmaine Smyle from Leicester who’s managed by Chris Pyatt.
Your coach Paul Hudson is relatively unknown to the wider boxing community. What are his qualities?
Paul brings a lot of knowledge. He was a former amateur who did a lot of kick boxing and has been involved with mixed martial arts. He’s been a significant face in the Coventry boxing scene for quite a long time now.
Paul explains things very clearly and always puts things in perspective. We work well together on devising our game plan. Paul really pushes me to get the most out of me in the gym and on the track but he’s basically a real nice bloke.
You’ve stayed active and made very promising progress recently. However, there’s a lot of rising cruiserweight prospects. You refuse to have a nickname, are indifferent to your entrance music and avoid gimmicks. How are you going to stand out from the crowd?
You can’t keep a good man down for ever. The way I see it, if I’m going about my business quietly, low key, the other prospects are more likely to step into the ring with me. That’s when I get to prove myself. They’ll be saying: ’Where did he come from?’
Trash talk proves nothing and can make you look a bit stupid if you fail to back it up. Hopefully, I can sell myself in other ways.
What type of test are you anticipating from Dawson? Why are you confident that it’ll be your hand that’s raised at the end?
We’ll have to wait and see. Neil always comes to fight so I’m expecting it to be hard. I’m definitely going to be in for a proper fight this time. Anything can happen in boxing with us bigger lads. Obviously I’m confident that I’m going to win but no doubt so is Dawson.
Touch wood you come through, what are your aspirations for the remainder of 2013?
I don’t like to think about the future too much. I only ever take one fight at a time. I’ve had quite a hard schedule since coming back last year after my 15 month break due to a torn bicep. So after this, I need a little break, maybe fit in a holiday to recuperate, then start back nice and fresh for the new season in September.
May 28, 2013