'I was trying to use gambling as an escape from the s**t that was going on in my life...I was genuinely on the brink'
Dubliner Keane McMahon made an impressive pro debut at the National Stadium last May with a convincing points win over Lukasz Kuc that showed that he could take the skills that saw him win six underage national titles to a new level as a prizefighter.
Soon afterwards, McMahon and manager David Murphy signed with London-based Boxing Ireland Promotions.
The plan was to fast track the 23-year-old to title fights within 18 months.
But fate has a way of mocking your plans.
When McMahon pulled out of a planned fight at short notice in September, people asked questions.
"I'm not going to lie," says Keane. "I had issues. Issues that I'm still trying to keep on top of. I was gambling like a degenerate."
There's no question that McMahon, aka The Iceman, has the potential to be a champion. As an amateur, he represented Ireland at least twenty times.
It takes a big man to admit publicly to his demons.
"I was going to the gym but I was just doing enough," he recalls. "I was trying to use gambling as an escape from the s**t that was going on in my life when I should have been pouring everything into the gym."
Keane credits manager Murphy with helping turn the fighter's life around.
"I was rock bottom," he reveals.
I was genuinely on the brink. I'm not going to beat about the bush. I was going to kill myself. It was that bad. David got on board and he's like family to me. He showed genuine concern."
The nitty gritty of dealing with addiction problems can be a tougher test than boxing a few rounds. But, with the help of his team in Ballybough BC, The Iceman kept his cool and got back on track.
"I made things worse than they were," he says. "I'd gamble and then I'd turn my phone off and not be in touch with anyone. I went missing for two days when all this happened."
With a proper support system in place, Keane is back in training and preparing to make a big statement when he fights on the Ring Kings show at the WIT Arena in Waterford on Saturday February 17.
"I could have done better in my debut but now you're going to see me hurt these guys," he declares. "I want to make a statement to the whole welterweight division. Even though I'm only 1 and 0, I want them saying, ‘This guy is going to do damage.' There are massive fights to be made even just in Ireland at welterweight."
"I've changed my lifestyle," he states. "The extra training I'm doing is tough but I couldn't be happier."