The new “Prince Naz?” The new “Drunken Master?” Unbeaten light heavyweight talent Ben Whitaker has been getting plenty of attention, and a fair share of criticism in some quarters, due to his quite outrageous showboating habit. 26 year old Whitaker went viral after his latest win.
On Saturday, in what was Olympic silver medal winner Whitaker’s sixth pro outing, the possible star in the making took out Khalid Graidia in the fifth round, Whitaker’s body attack being very effective. But the outlandish showboating Whitaker engaged in earlier in the fight was the main reason for the attention. Spinning around in performing a complete 360, this while standing on one leg, this as his opponent was hurt, Whitaker hopped around the ring and waved to the crowd.
Some fans liked it, but the referee, Sean McAvoy, did not, with the third man giving Whitaker a stern warning. Boxing experts are also split on Whitaker’s showboating, with some saying it’s old hat and is disrespectful to the other fighter in the ring, while others say it’s fun and excitement and that it gets people talking.
It certainly has done that, and Whitaker, 6-0(5) and trained by Sugar Hill, has spoken himself about how he can “get a bit carried away.” Whitaker, who says he is just being himself in the ring and that it was not his intention to go viral, spoke with Sky Sports.
“The style that I do is actually just my style,” Whitaker said. “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 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.”
As with all flashy showboating types, the aforementioned Naseem Hamed in particular, fans want to see if he, or she, can do it at the highest level, against the elite of the sport. If Whitaker can do what he’s been doing against the best in the world (and imagine for a minute, Whitaker having the sheer nerve to taunt and showboat in a fight with, say, an Artur Beterbiev!), then so be it. As the one and only Muhammad Ali once said, “it’s not bragging or showing off if you can back it up.”
Can Whitaker back up his act, if it is an act, he says he’s just being himself as you’ve read – or will he be found out at elite level? It promises to be a lot of fun, if you like showboating, as we find out.
Trainer Sugar Hill is immensely excited about Whitaker and about how far he can go in the sport.