Dan-Dan Keenan

Most teenagers have decisions to make as they grow up.  For some it will be relationships, for others perhaps further education and for those exiting their teen years perhaps it is a career choice.  That is the conundrum that 19 year old Dan-Dan Keenan from London faced, but it wasn’t your standard set of choices.

“I used to play football but had to make the decision between the two and I chose boxing” he tells me when looking back at his formative years.  “I was playing football at a high level with the likes of QPR, West Ham, Watford;   I've been everywhere!” he laughs.  But it was boxing that got the nod in the end and now he is looking to reap the rewards of his choice.

Keenan’s journey started around 11 years ago at Dale Youth Amateur Boxing Club.  A 21 fight amateur career resulted in 17 wins and just the four losses.  It would have been more, says Keenan, in better circumstances.  “I should have had a lot more fights but I had a few injuries, they're cleared up but they held me back a bit.  I broke my finger and had a trapped nerve in my back so nothing too bad.”  He insists that those physical ailments are behind him now as he looks to make his mark in the paid ranks of boxing.

The decision to turn over to professional boxing came when he realised that while training as an amateur, he was able to hold his own with more seasoned professionals.  “It was training at State of Mind with Barry O'Connell.  I was sparring a few professionals and getting on well with them so I thought 'why not?'.  It's where I'm still training now and there's some good pros down there, the likes of Deano Richardson, Jumaane Camero, Jon O'Donnell.“  It has been a good start to his career.  His debut came on March 19th against Jack Green where he won a 40-36 points decision.  There was one remarkable aspect of his debut at York Hall; the support.   

The win on his first fight was witnessed by a remarkable number of people supporting Keenan, in total he distributed 450 tickets for the fight.  Most boxers are lucky to be able to sell 100 for a debut.  So did that bring any additional pressure?  “I thought I would have felt the pressure with that but I was so excited and pumped up for it that I didn't feel it at all, I just wanted to go out there and do it” he says. 

Keenan has signed with Goodwin Promotions, based out of Leighton Buzzard and with a residency at the historic York Hall.  It is there where they have recently revolutionised the small hall boxing scene, bringing a look and feel of an arena show to the venue by introducing big screens ring introductions, recorded promotional videos, loud crowd pleasing music and impressive ring walks.  So how did he come to sign up with the ambitious promotional group?  “I had a chat with Barry (O’Connell) and he organised it with Steve.  I knew of Steve before, Barry took me and Deano Richardson to have a chat with him.  We were there quite a while and went back two weeks later to sign.”  So what did he make to the venue when he debuted?  “It's brilliant.  I've been to quite a lot of shows at York Hall before that and even though I couldn't enjoy it before the fight as I was concentrating so much, I could see that Steve's setup was a lot, lot better.”

For his second fight he is taking a step away from the old York Hall venue and taking the leap to boxing at the O2, the venue fast becoming the home of huge nights of UK boxing.  It has recently seen David Haye make his comeback as well as Anthony Joshua win a version of the world heavyweight title.  Keenan will be part of the second Haye comeback fight on May 21st as once again Goodwin Promotions handle the undercard for the occasion.  So is it overwhelming for the 19 year old to be making only his second professional appearance supporting a former world heavyweight champion in a 20,000 capacity venue?

“It's crazy!” laughs Keenan.  “It's more than I could have imagined, I can't wait for it now.  I've done 350 tickets so far and hope to do about 500 for the show.  I thought I would have done less this time around but it's been great.  It means so much to get that support.  The whole of Ladbroke Grove will be there!  I have people coming from all over the place, I have a friend in Bournemouth who has got 26 off me, a friend in Ruislip took a few, my old amateur club took 20.  I have people from all over the place.”
Reece Macmillan
That level of support will do Keenan well.  It is often one of the hardest parts of becoming a professional fighter, drumming up the fans to help sell your ticket allocation.  The other part most fighters struggle with at the start of their career is fitting the training around other employment to make ends meet.  Again however, Keenan is in a position at present to give himself the best opportunity.  “At the moment I'm training three times a day, I'm full time.  In my spare time I do some personal training with people from the area but that's my life really” he says, almost apologetically for someone of his age.  It shows the dedication and determination he is putting into the sport to reach his goals.

Those goals are lofty.  When we discuss the aspirations in the sport there is no hesitation or delay from Keenan.  He is focussed and clear.  “I think I can win a world title.  I wouldn't be boxing if I didn't think I could.  I'm not in a rush, I want to get some fights under my belt and get the experience then hopefully get a Southern Area title in maybe two years time.  Barry said to have about four to six fights a year.  I'm aiming for at least four, that should take me in two years time to about 11 or 12 wins then I'll be ready.”

At present his aim is on the welterweight division.  However he recognises that due to his age and the inevitable growth that will happen over the forthcoming years he will at some point start his ascension through the weight ranks.  “I'm welterweight now but I think I'll end up at super middleweight.  I'm quite tall, around six foot and I've only just turned 19 so I think I'll still keep growing.  I think we will progress it slowly.”

There is undoubtedly a long road ahead for Keenan to achieve his aspirations in the sport.  But he is realistic about the short term requirements; gain experience, take the learning fights.  He has an almost unheard of support for a new professional and the added bonus of being able to concentrate on his boxing full time; both things that many at the start of their boxing career can only wish for.  There can never be guarantees of success in boxing but there can be advantages to help you succeed.  Dan-Dan Keenan is looking to make the most of his, starting at the O2.

Dan-Dan wished to thank the sponsors who help support his career, Pink Gentlemen’s Club in Windsor and Exclusive Car Hire in Knightsbridge.