Meli sets sights on a derby battle with Keeler after showing his grit
Belfast's Fredo Meli says he would relish a derby showdown with Dubliner Luke Keeler after both men enjoyed significant victories at Falls Park on Saturday night.
Meli edged a tight duel with Germany's Araik Marutjan 77-76, despite being floored in the sixth round of their middleweight duel, before Keeler came to the ring and had the win of his career when he outpointed American Luis Arias 96-91.
Keeler, who defeated Conrad Cummings for a second time earlier this year, surprised Arias with his sharp punching but Meli would welcome a battle with the Dubliner.
"The fight with Keeler would be a great fight and if that could be made I'd take it. I feel after this win that I deserve a big fight, a title fight," said Meli.
"That guy was a good operator. To be honest, I only found out after the fight that the guy was a world amateur bronze medallist. Maybe that was a good thing because I just went in there and gave it everything.
"Keeler had a very good win and I did well - it seems a natural fight. It depends what he will want to do but if it's not next then that's alright, but I still feel I should be pushing for a title fight now. I feel I have earned a lot of respect with this win."
Opinion was divided on whether or not Meli had done enough to deserve the decision from referee Paul McCullagh. Many of the rounds were close and when Meli hit the canvas after absorbing a straight hand in the sixth it seemed the Belfast man had run out of gas. However, he finished strongly and that was enough to give him victory on McCullagh's card.
Padraig McCrory picked up the Boxing Union of Ireland's Celtic super-middleweight title when he stopped Steve Collins jnr in the final round of their eight-rounder.
The Belfast man made a steady start but then tired badly from the fifth round onwards, as did Collins, so it came as a surprise when McCrory's right hand stunned the Dubliner and he finished him off with a further blitz.
Former world title challenger Paddy Barnes clearly needs to stay busy after his 60-55 points win over journeyman Joel Gonzalez, who was more competitive than he should have been.
The Belfast man is aiming to move down to light-flyweight and the sooner the better as he should prove much more dominant. Barnes will seek to be out again as soon as possible with a light-flyweight title fight being talked about for 2020.
Unbeaten light-welterweight prospect Sean McComb suffered a cut over his right eye on the way to a sparkling 79-73 win over Frenchman Renald Garrido, a solid journeyman.
McComb could easily move up for a serious domestic test as this win over Garrido was largely an exhibition of punching.
Heavyweight Damien Sullivan was stopped in the first round by journeyman Mateusz Kubiszyn and is wisely considering his future. Sean Duffy defeated Naheem Chaudhry 40-36, and Callum Bradley won 40-37 against Jose Hernandez.