Making your professional boxing debut can be nerve-wracking for many but for Ben Whittaker, it was a walk in the park.
All eyes were on the young Brit after starring at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year where he finished the competition with a silver medal at light-heavyweight. Now nearly 12 months later, he looks ready to take the next step in his boxing journey.
With the weight of the world on his shoulders, Whittaker put on a brilliant display to knock Greg O'Neill out just seconds into round two. As the referee checked up on the 31-year-old, the West Bromwich-born boxer had time for a little jig in the middle of the ring to the delight of the crowd.
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And it is that cocky personality that will get people talking with many already divided on his showboating, including one viewer who said: "Ben Whittaker can absolutely do one. Haha. Strutting around the ring against a guy with who has six losses." Another wrote: "It’ll be interesting to see how the Boxing fans will take to Ben Whittaker as a pro, dancing and showboating while your opponent is on the floor, not my cup of tea."
Not everyone was left fuming with Whittaker's antics, with one fan saying: "Ben Whittaker seems to have the swagger of DeGale. I have to say I'm a fan." Another posted: "Ben Whittaker is going to p*** so many people off, and it’s going to be beautiful to watch."
On his performance, Whittaker had admitted his victory was not what he had planned but that he remained confident that he would get the job done sooner or later. "I'm my own critic so the first round I wasn't the happiest, and I thought I'm going to have to hurt this boy," he said.
"There was no nerves. The main thing is that I had a bit too much fun and I forgot the game plan. Came back, listened to my coach, and it's all she wrote."
It has not been an easy road for Whittaker, who has had to battle injury over the past year. The 25-year-old recently agreed terms with BOXXER while his promoter Ben Shalom has high hopes for the light-heavyweight.
"He's the future of British boxing," he said. "He's a superstar."
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