HomeMMABen Whittaker: 'I used to be only one step away from gold'

Ben Whittaker: ‘I used to be only one step away from gold’

Ben Whittaker explains his reaction to Olympic silver, what the medal really means to him, and wonders what happens next. He speaks exclusively to John Dennen

He didn’t come to lose. The day after his Olympic final, Ben Whittaker had time to think. Yesterday, Whittaker stood on the podium after losing to Cuban Arlen Lopez for light heavyweight gold, a picture of misery. Visibly emotional, bitterly disappointed, he initially did not put on his silver medal.

But talk to Boxing messages from Tokyo he can now see the big picture. “It’s all good. Yesterday I just showed my emotions, I was just disappointed. Not because of the fight, because he is a great fighter, everyone knows that. I study boxing and he is a great fighter and then he was the right one Man won. I was just disappointed with myself that I didn’t bring any gold back. I was just one step away from that. But looking back, I’ve now thought about what an achievement, Olympic runner-up, world runner-up and lots of boxes I just have to move on from here and hopefully correct the wrong things if I can ever fight him again, “explained Whittaker.” As a perfectionist, I know I just haven’t done enough. There were a few things [that could have been different but] At the end of the day there were three rounds of competition, it wasn’t like I left school completely or whatever. “

Lopez became an Olympic two-weight champion and will go down as one of the great modern Cubans. Whittaker has long been aware of this and almost boxed Lopez in the World Series of Boxing format a few years ago when they were both middleweights, though that opportunity was missed. “I remember in 2014, when I wasn’t even in the UK, I was watching and studying people like Arlen Lopez. My dad said one day I can see you fight him, “said Ben. “I never had a chance to fight him [in the WSB]. What a dream come true – Olympic final and I’m fighting one of the best of all time. Double Olympic gold medalist, so I haven’t lost to anyone, he’s one of the best. It was a great experience. “

He expects to improve too. “For me, a Cuban is fluent on paper, is that, is that. He [Lopez] doesn’t really have the typical Cuban style when you look at it on paper. He’s more like an American professional if you look at the way he cuts the ring off. But when you get in there he’s a really top notch operator and it was great to have that experience, shall I say. This will just make me grow. Every time I’ve lost I’ve come back better and learned from things. So I know what to do now and I’m sure I’ll try to do that, ”Whittaker said. “I’m new at 81 kg and have only lost three times, once in the final of the European Games, the other in the world semi-finals and now in the Olympic final. So three losses in this weight class and it’s only the highest level we’ve lost at. So we’re getting there slowly but surely. “

Lopez defeats Whittaker. Photo: BUDA MENDES / POOL / AFP via Getty Images

Whittaker wholeheartedly welcomed the Olympic tournament from amusing appearances on television when he vowed to become Mayor of Wolverhampton to his one-of-a-kind victory celebrations. “I think it’s just because I’m naturally myself. If you go to Bocskai. walk [a small tournament in Hungary] And places like this and I have a celebration that nobody sees. But I knew all eyes were on the Olympics. It was my time to just let my self-expression speak for itself and what a place to do it. I’m in Japan, the celebration I made was from Dragon Ball Z, which is a Japanese anime, ”he said. “I’m so happy that I got to do it in Japan and it was a dream come true.”

The expectation is that he will become professional. “Next I’ll go back and eat as much as I can,” he smiled. “Before I got out of here, there were a lot of people who wanted me to be pro and there were a lot of people who made me offers. I went and got a silver medal, the doors opened crazy. I have to do something [Joshua] Buatsi and the others did, sit down and just take your time and go through it all. Because if I rush it, I might fall headlong into something and regret it. “

Whittaker calls himself “The Future”. Being to Tokyo will be worth seeing.


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