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Dan-Dan Keenan: I made the right call choosing boxing over football

PUBLISHED: 16:00 18 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:56 18 May 2016

Former Dale Youth ABC starlet Dan-Dan Keenan is looking forward to the second professional bout of his career at the 02 Arena this Saturday (Pic: Natalie Mayhew)

Former Dale Youth ABC starlet Dan-Dan Keenan is looking forward to the second professional bout of his career at the 02 Arena this Saturday (Pic: Natalie Mayhew)

Archant

Former Dale Youth ABC starlet Dan-Dan Keenan believes he made the right decision choosing boxing over football, as he prepares for his second professional outing at the 02 Arena on Saturday.

The 19-year-old spent time at QPR, Wycombe, West Ham, Watford, Oxford and Crystal Palace as a youngster, with a professional football career looking a serious possibility for him at one stage.

He most recently trained with National League South side Wealdstone and non-league outfit Hendon this summer, but gave up the sport altogether back in November and he has no regrets whatsover.

He told the Times: “I know I definitely made the right call.

“I had to choose one sooner rather than later, and once the opportunity to turn professional in November arose, my mind was made up.

“Football was definitely an option for me, though. I’d been at QPR, Wycombe, West Ham, Watford, Oxford, Crystal Palace, so everywhere really, when I was younger.

“More recently I was training with Wealdstone and Hendon this season, but then I just stopped playing altogether after Steve Goodwin offered me a three-year deal to join his team.”

The welterweight, who won his first professional outing by virtue of a points decision against Jack Green at York Hall in March, says his training in the build-up to the fight has been going well – with a surprise gym session with an even more well known graduate of the Dale Youth ‘champions factory’, George Groves, boosting him even further.

He added: “Training has gone really well. I’m just winding down now. I’m getting myself sharper with five one-minute rounds now just to make sure I’m in the best condition possible for Saturday.

“The opening training session in Canary Wharf on Monday was great. I was out there for 50 minutes and a lot of my family and friends came to support me which was great.

“The biggest thing for me came last week,though. I’d just done an intense hill sprints session in the morning, so that obviously took a lot out of me.

“Then [trainer] Barry O’Connell told me I had more training in two hours, and I told him I wasn’t really feeling it.

“But when he mentioned I’d be training with George, it gave me a real lift and some extra motivation.

“It’s been great to see how far he has come since his amateur days and I’m sure there is a lot more to come from him, just like myself.

“I just can’t wait to get out there on Saturday at the 02 in front of all my fans and do the business.”

Elsewhere, Keenan paid tribute to his dad, Paul, someone he says has been instrumental to his progress in boxing.

“My dad has had a massive influence on me in boxing and has always supported me through thick and thin no matter what I’m doing,” explained Keenan.

“I don’t think I’d be in boxing, let along the position I am in today, if it wasn’t for him.

“He took me to the gym when I was younger and to loads of boxing events – I was very fortunate.

“Then I left to play football as that’s what I wanted to do then, but he talked me into getting back into boxing.

“I started enjoying it again and got that appetite back. We went for late night runs together – he kept me dedicated and enthusiastic.

“He helps me out a lot in terms of distributing tickets as well – I’ve got a lot to thank him for.”

Keenan, who has sold around 470 tickets for his fight against Dwayne Shelton this weekend, is aiming for another two fights this year and up to six next year, as he looks to really kick on in 2018.

“I’m just taking my time at the moment, after all I’m only 19,” said Keenan.

“I spoke to Barry and he said to try and fit in two more fights this year, and then four to six the year after [which will take me up to 10]. Then in 2018 I’ll be ready to challenge for titles.”

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