Ben Whittaker has boxed the best in the division at two major tournaments this year
Q&A with top middleweight Whittaker
YOU’VE drawn the Oleksandr Khyzhniak (who would win the gold medal) at both the Europeans and the Worlds. Do you feel unlucky?
I feel a bit unlucky but you go to these places and you know you’re going to come up against the best. So you just take it as it comes. If the draw comes, it comes and even with the Indian lad [Vikas Krishan in the Worlds] I had a bit of a tough draw there.
I got the right tactics [the second time against Khyzhniak]. In the first fight I stood there a bit too much.
What I should have done is every time I made him miss, hit him and occasionally drive him back. It’s all well and good saying it but when you’ve got a kid like that coming it is hard.
You can’t let him have no chance. Even when I got caught with a jab, that’s giving the judges something to score for. If it’s a 50-50 fight they’ll always go with the aggressor.
I had the right gameplan. When you’re just standing with him, it’s a lose-lose situation. When you’re just standing there, he’ll just walk through you.
He looks exceptionally strong.
He’s ridiculous. He came from 81kgs, he needs to go back up there. He was at 81kgs for quite a while as well and then out of nowhere he came to 75kgs. He’s killing it at 75gs at the moment, he’s doing well. You’d expect him to slow up but he’s relentless. Did you know much about him?
Funnily enough when I started international boxing my coach back at home showed me a video of him and said look how relentless this lad is. I was about 15 at that stage, 16. He showed me his WSB against Aston Brown.
I went to this Europeans and seen him at 75 and thought a bit of a weird situation. I watched him, thought I could be fighting him and then I drew him first. It was a funny situation. Were you comfortable against Krishan?
We always do video analysis down at GB. I was watching him at the last Worlds in the quarter-finals. It was a messy fight and I thought if I do allow it to become messy it’ll become messy. When you’ve got a high calibre kid like that, who will know how to hold you and on the blindside of the ref, you’ll end up in a messy bout. So what I thought is, how tall I am middleweight, keep my range, any time he steps into my space, punch him. The first minute I knew I’d won. He didn’t have a clue, he was kind of stuck.
TESTING TIMES: Ben Whittaker has won two England Boxing Elite titles and is now taking on the very best in the world overseas