New breed of fight­ers take barbs on the chin

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT -

AUS­TRALIA’S new com­bat sports he­roes Jeff Horn and Robert Whit­taker have shown grace un­der fire, both dur­ing and af­ter their mem­o­rable world ti­tle wins.

WBO wel­ter­weight boxing cham­pion Horn and UFC in­terim, mid­dleweight belt holder Whit­taker are the right kind of rep­re­sen­ta­tives for sports that haven’t al­ways at­tracted pos­i­tive pub­lic­ity.

Mod­est and gra­cious, both men weath­ered ad­ver­sity dur­ing their re­spec­tive ti­tle bouts.

Horn sur­vived a bru­tal ninth- round on­slaught by Manny Pac­quiao and Whit­taker pre­vailed against Yoel Romero de­spite re- in­jur­ing a knee in the first round of his fight.

It was the stuff of le­gends, with Horn’s up­set of a modern great breath­ing new life into Aus­tralian boxing, while Whit­taker be­came the na­tion’s first UFC cham­pion.

Horn re­mained un­fazed by the firestorm of crit­i­cism on so­cial me­dia of his points win.

Whit­taker’s post- fight test came in the oc­tagon im­me­di­ately af­ter, when reg­u­lar cham­pion Michael Bisp­ing aimed an ex­ple­tive- laced tirade at the Aus­tralian, call­ing him all sorts of names.

“The fact you’re stand­ing there with that f..... g belt on like you’re a cham­pion makes me sick, you should be ashamed of your­self,” Bisp­ing said.

Syd­neysider Whit­taker didn’t flinch or ver­bally re­tal­i­ate, he just smiled and replied re­spect­fully.

Whit­taker has won the right to chal­lenge Bisp­ing, who couldn’t make a sched­uled ti­tle de­fence against Gero­ges StPierre be­cause of in­jury, which led to the in­terim ti­tle fight be­ing sanc­tioned.

UFC have sched­uled a pro­mo­tion in Syd­ney in Novem­ber, but it re­mains to be seen if ei­ther man will fight on that card, with Whit­taker not get­ting scans on his knee un­til re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia.

In the post- fight TV wrap, Whit­taker called Bisp­ing a “doyen of the sport” prompt­ing the ex­as­per­ated English­man to say “stop be­ing so nice, we want to sell a pay for view.”

Bisp­ing gave the Aus­tralian credit for his per­for­mance but couldn’t bait Whit­taker into a trash- talk war.

“I re­spect you, of course I do, you’re a great guy, you han­dle your­self with class, that was an amaz­ing fight,” Bisp­ing said.

Robert Whit­taker.

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