Ben Whittaker: Britain’s got so many great fighters but I can make myself the face of the UK scene

Ben Whittaker has great ambitions and, he believes, the talent to match.

A silver medalist in Britain’s brilliant Tokyo Olympic team, the young light-heavyweight is determined to excel as a professional fighter.

He wants to go “as far as I can”.

“Britain’s got so many great fighters but I just think I can step away from them and make myself the face of the UK scene,” Whittaker told Sky Sports.

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Whittaker and Grant continued to exchange words after the final press conference

“I can be, if I work hard and that’s the main thing – work hard.”

He cautioned: “It’s easy saying that. It’s got to be done now. I’ve definitely got the looks. I’ve just got to make sure I put the performances in and the wins and that’s it.

“I’ve been tipped for world titles and big things like that. But it’s down to me to do. First things first is winning. First things first is making sure I’m in the gym all the time, and making sure I put the work in.”

With these expectations, Whittaker is putting himself under pressure. But that is deliberate. He uses it to drive himself on.

“I like to fuel the fire. It kind of makes me get up for it because I think if I’m talking this, I’ve got to back it up,” Whittaker said.

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Whittaker and Grant have been proud in the build-up to their fight

“I say alright if I’m setting this goal or I’m saying this, I’ve got to make sure it happens. That’s what makes me get up early in the morning, that’s what makes me do the extra rounds of sparring and everything else.

“That’s what keeps me grounded. I know there’s two sides to the story. You can talk a bit of rubbish, believe in that rubbish and kind of cut corners. Or you can talk a bit of rubbish, train hard and make sure you back it up – and I fall into that bracket.

“I talk a bit of rubbish but remain humble behind closed doors. I make sure I cut no corners.

“If I keep doing the things I’m supposed to, I’ll get there eventually.”

Whittaker boxes on Saturday night at the Resorts World Arena in Birmingham, live on Sky Sports, and is raising the stakes for himself again. He is promising a special ring entrance.

“I’ve got a couple of surprises. It’s going to be a good one,” he said. “Saturday you’ll see.”

Pre-fight comments have laughed Saturday’s opponent Jordan Grant.

“He’s called ‘The Game’,” Whittaker said. “He’s going to try to come, bring it, and that’s perfect for me.

“The more game he is, the more I can hurt him. A dominant performance and hopefully a stoppage.”

Only two fights into his pro career Whittaker has just started to show all the facets of his boxing.

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Whittaker reveals his current top six British light-heavyweights and what their strengths and weaknesses are

Toughness is a quality he has not got to display as a professional. But it is there.

In this camp in Miami he has been sparring heavyweights, world champion Lawrence Okolie, a big hard-hitting cruiserweight, and more.

“I’ve got this flash persona, pretty-boy face and what not, but Sugar[Hill, his trainer]Lawrence, they can say all from the sparring I’ve done, and not only that from previous [amateur] fights, if I need to stick there and stand and bang I can,” he said. “If it really gets to it, I can do.

“It’s been good against the heavyweights because I can dig [the shots] in. When they lean on me, I can try and push them back, because they’re heavier than me.

“All that is going to lead into when I do have a hard fight I can bring that in.”

He is a tall, skilled long-range boxer. But when he first started out as an amateur Whittaker was a come-forward fighter.

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Whittaker believes is already the best light-heavyweight in Britain and is confident he will prove that in the near future

“I was always the smallest at the weight category so I had to come forward and bang them in and loop them over the top. Then out of nowhere, when I hit 17 I was massive. I was tall as anything. That’s when the flashy came in,” he said.

“So if I need to, I can always revert to fighting.”

Having fully recovered from an injury, Whittaker should be able to show much more of his capabilities against Grant on Saturday.

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“I was performing the way I was with pain. Without pain, I’ll be even better. So that’s what I’m most excited about,” he said.

“I’m pain free and the first two fights I was carrying that little niggle. The getback, that’s what I’m calling it.

“I’m treating this as a beginning,” he added. “May 6 is where I get to showcase my skills once again.”

Watch Ben Whittaker vs Jordan Grant from 7pm on Saturday live on Sky Sports Action gold Sky Showcase