Ben Whittaker added to Billam-Smith vs. Riakporhe undercard

By James Slater - 05/01/2024 - Comments

Press Conference Gatecrashing Act Gets Ezra Arenyeka The Fight He Wanted With “Diva” Ben Whittaker

As interesting as the main event is on June 15 at Selhurst Park, this the return fight between Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe for the WBO cruiserweight title held by Billam-Smith, it’s entirely possible the chief support bout will garner plenty of attention. Back in March, at the presser ahead of unbeaten light heavyweight star in the making Ben Whittaker’s fight with Leon Willings (Whittaker winning the fight on points), an unknown gatecrasher suddenly started calling for a fight with Whittaker.

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Later we found out who the mystery man was – fellow unbeaten 175 pounder Ezra Arenyeka. Arenyeka laid into the flashy Whittaker, calling him a “diva” and “disrespectful,” this due to the quite extreme showboating Whittaker has been fond of engaging in during his fights. Whittaker’s showboating is not to everyone’s taste, although some fans do love it. Arenyeka says he will beat Whittaker, by KO, to teach him a lesson.

Arenyeka’s gatecrashing act has got him the fight he wanted, but will Whitaker, 7-0(5) make Arenyeka regret his actions? This one is a genuine grudge match, with both fighters vowing to “make an example” of the other.

“Every good boxer with rhythm can showboat – in my amateur days I used to showboat a lot, but I stopped for a reason, because I’ve grown as a fighter,” Arenyeka, 12-0(10) and dubbed The African King, said to Sky Sports. “Obviously he is still acting like a little diva, like a little kid in the ring, so he is not grown yet. If he tries to do that with me, I will show him the level and make him look silly. That’s just the honest truth…..he is going to get caught with my strong right and I’ll knock him out.”

Whittaker is a former Olympian who won a silver medal, and he is a fighter who some good judges feel is the best young prospect in British boxing right now. Full of confidence, Whittaker says he will only need to show “10 percent” of his stuff to beat Arenyeka. Again, we have a real grudge fight here. The two came together at a presser today, and the hype is bubbling nicely for this fight.

Gatecrashing a press conference is wrong, and not at all professional (just like Whittaker’s showboating, Arenyeka might well say), but it has got 28 year old Arenyeka the fight he wanted. Now, can he follow up on his boasts and derail 26 year old Whittaker?

Someone will lose face on June 15, along with their unbeaten pro record. But who?