Ben Whittaker got the world talking with a unique performance against Khalid Graidia on the Joshua Buatsi vs Dan Azeez undercard on Saturday night.
Who is Ben Whittaker?
The 26-year-old is a rising star in the light-heavyweight division. He has an unbeaten 6-0 professional record, with five of those victories coming by knockout.
He was a highly successful amateur boxer, who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, only losing to outstanding Cuban Arlen Lopez in the final.
Who trains him?
When he turned professional Whittaker joined American coach SugarHill Steward, the nephew of legendary trainer Manny Steward.
Steward has a stable of high profile fighters, notably WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Whittaker also works with Joby Clayton, who was his coach as an amateur.
Why is everyone talking about him?
Whittaker impressed in his Olympic Games and has dazzled in his professional performances, combining outrageous showboating with stunningly powerful combination punching.
That style was in full effect last Saturday as he stopped Khalid Graidia, with a clip of Whittaker’s flamboyant showboating going viral on social media.
The attention has been global. For instance American star Shakur Stevenson, the WBO lightweight world champion, messaged Whittaker on social media saying: “I’m a fan champ, I love how much fun you have while doing your craft.
“Tell them if they don’t like it, step up the competition so you could do that to them too.”
What does he say?
Whittaker told Sky Sports News: “The style that I do is actually just my style. I’m not trying to go viral, I’m not trying to get likes and things like that. Of course it’s a compliment but I’m just being me. It’s a good response but I’ve just got to keep level-headed, keep my feet on the ground and make sure I cut no corners.
“I’m just trying to be myself. You only get one career so I’m just trying to have fun while I’m doing it. Everybody’s got their own opinion and I’m excited to see where it goes.
“When I do actually box and switch on I do believe there’s not many people that can box like me. I’ve got a really good boxing IQ. Sometimes I do get a bit carried away. I maybe had a bit too many Smarties in the changing room. But like I said it’s just me enjoying myself, having fun. I just can’t wait to show when I’m at the top level my actual real skills.
Ben Whittaker – Fast facts
- Age: 26
- Division: Light-heavyweight
- Pro record: 6-0 (5)
- Nickname: ‘The Surgeon’
- Next fight: TBC
“When I was a young boy watching professional boxing, that’s what got me into it – the whole occasion, the ringwalk, what kit would they come out in and things like that.
“I mostly sometimes think about the kit and the ringwalk, sadly, and then I let the team come with the tactics.
“At the end of the day these fans are paying their hard-earned money, they’re coming out to see a show and that’s what we’ve got to do and put on.”
When will he fight next?
Whittaker does not have a next opponent or fight date confirmed yet, but he is expected to box again in March.
After recovering from injury in 2023, Whittaker is looking to be active this year too.
“My hands feel good, no injuries no niggles,” he said, “hopefully a fast turnover.”
When will he fight for a title?
Whittaker is a prospect and, at this early of his career, is gathering experience. But he has the talent to move quicker than most.
His last opponent, Khalid Graidia for instance had gone the eight-round distance with former British and European champion Dan Azeez among others.
“He was supposed to be a decent test for me. But I think it just shows the level I’m at,” Whittaker said.
But he added: “It’s all about experience in this pro game. You see a lot of prospects sometimes jump the gun too early and then they don’t do the in between levels.
“I want to go through every level so when I am at the top I stay there and I think that’s what the key is.”