Boxing isn’t just a sport for Austin Keller; it’s a lifeline. Hailing from Middleton, Massachusetts, the 25-year-old pugilist is no stranger to adversity. Boxing has been his saving grace, his pathway to confidence and discipline, from a challenging childhood to a hopeful future in the sweet science.
This journey takes a major step forward on Saturday, September 2, at “NEF 54: A Fight at the Opera.” Making his professional debut, Keller will go toe-to-toe with Paul Walters, a combat sports veteran, at the Merrill Auditorium in downtown Portland, Maine. The NEF, in association with Boston Boxing Promotions, promises a full pro boxing card followed by a mixed martial arts showcase.
Walters is no slouch. He’s been through the NEF MMA cage, the BBP boxing ring, and even had a stint in bare-knuckle fighting. Despite the difference in pro experience, Keller is fired up: “He’s got a lot more experience than I do when it comes to fighting professionally, but I’m very excited to get in there and fight.”
Keller’s initial interest in combat sports began with jiu-jitsu, a survival mechanism in a rough neighborhood. Over the years, he gravitated towards boxing, falling in love with its tactical nature and seeing it as a way to navigate life’s pitfalls. “It taught me about respect and discipline. Without it, I don’t really know where I’d be,” he reflected.
After an impressive amateur career that saw him go the distance in the prestigious Golden Gloves, Keller believes he’s found his home in the pro circuit. Training under Ray Hebert at Haverhill Downtown Boxing, Keller is ready to test his mettle and believes the pro format suits his style.r
Hebert’s no-nonsense approach aligns well with Keller’s ethos. “Ray is very old-school. He’s very do it right or don’t do it all,” said Keller, who relishes a no-fluff coaching atmosphere where the truth is not sugar-coated.
When it comes to his strengths, Keller cites his durability and punching power. However, he knows he needs to keep his composure under pressure, stick to his game plan, and continue to evolve.
Keller is all-in for his professional debut. “I’m the last person that’ll have you wasting money on a ticket. I show up ready to go. I like a busy, explosive fight, and that’s what I hope,” he stated emphatically.
“NEF 54: A Fight at the Opera” kicks off this Saturday at 5 p.m., and you can catch all the action streaming live at www.combatsportsnow.com.