Who Is Ben Whittaker, The Fast-Rising British Boxer Causing A Stir?

February 7, 2024
4 months
Image of Ben Whittaker

He’s been compared to ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed, can count the likes of Shakur Stevenson and Anthony Joshua among his ever-increasing fanbase, and has seen his social media following skyrocket in recent days. He’s also been criticized by some for excessive showboating and disrespecting his opponents.

One thing is for sure, though: the boxing world is talking about Ben Whittaker.

So, who is this newcomer to the scene? And why now is he a hot topic of conversation?

Ben Whittaker Career and Record

Whittaker, a light-heavyweight, turned professional in July 2022 and has fought and won six times, including five inside the distance.

Considering he’s in the early stage of his career, the 26-year-old has yet to fight a challenging opponent or even contest a 10- or 12-round bout; after three six-rounders, his most recent three bouts have been eight-rounders.

Whittaker turned pro after a successful amateur career. He won silver at the Tokyo Olympics in 2022 and at the European Games in 2019. He also claimed bronze at the 2019 World Championships, and gold at the 2018 EU Championships.

He made headlines in the UK for refusing to wear his Olympic silver during the medal ceremony, deeming his inability to win gold “a failure”. The debate it caused should have been a sign of things to come for a fighter whose style is dividing opinion.

Ben Whittaker Fight Style

The comparisons with ‘Prince Naz’ are clear and obvious. Like the British boxing great from the 1990s, Whittaker is quick, slick, powerful and full of tricks. His defense relies more on head movement, sharp reflexes and anticipation than it does on a guard. Whether that changes when he rises through the ranks will remain to be seen.

Whittaker is also very adept at judging distance, no doubt a skill he honed during his exceptional amateur career. He comes into range to unload his combos then bounces away on his toes and clear of his opponents’ counters.

But it’s the showboating that has got everyone talking. In his last fight against Khalid Graidia on the Joshua Buatsi vs Dan Azeez undercard earlier this month, Whittaker was given a talking to by referee Sean McAvoy for his antics. Among his showboating, Whittaker gently bopped Graidia on the top of the head, gave him a gentle backhand, and constantly danced and jigged in front of his opponent.

Who Trains Ben Whittaker?

Since turning pro in 2022, Whittaker has been in the very capable hands of SugarHill Steward, the nephew of legendary trainer Emanuel Steward and current trainer of WBC heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury.

Steward also trained former world champions Adonis Stevenson and Anthony Dirrell.

Why is Ben Whittaker Causing Debate?

The debate surrounding Whittaker since his last fight has been focused on his showboating. While many boxers and fight fans view the ‘The Surgeon’ as great entertainment, others believe his antics are over-the-top and disrespectful towards his opponents.

WBC lightweight world champion Stevenson showed his support for Whittaker, when he wrote on social media: “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.”

Meanwhile, two-time heavyweight world champion Joshua, whose management company 258 Management represents Whittaker, is expecting big things from the prospect.

“Everyone get ready for a special journey. Ben is the future PPV star,” Joshua said after Whittaker turned pro in 2022.

As for his own opinion on his showboating, Whittaker insisted he is not doing it for social media likes or attention, or to cause debate – it’s simply his style.

“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,” he said in an interview to Sky Sports. “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.

“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.”

Ben Whittaker’s Future Prospects

With the boxing world talking about him and his profile rapidly growing, there will be calls for Whittaker to make a significant step up in quality for his next few fights.

However, it’s important to remember that he is still a six-fight novice and a level of patience is required until he gets into the title conversation. Whittaker is not yet ranked in the top 15 by any of the four governing bodies, although that is likely to change this year.

Whittaker’s arrival to the scene also comes at a time when the light-heavyweight division is thriving. With Artur Beterbiev and Dimitrii Bivol expected to clash in an undisputed fight this summer, and following Buatsi’s thrilling win over Azeez, the division is in fine health. Whittaker will only enhance the interest in the 175lbs division.

As for his immediate plans, a new fight is yet to be announced, although he could be back in the ring as soon as March.

“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,” Whittaker said. “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.”