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Irish Insight into Fighting Extremely Divisive Ben Whittaker

Shaun Kelly is all aboard the showboat and has no issue with how the divisive Ben Whittaker approaches the sport.

The Boxxer prospect has been labeled boxing’s biggest showboater since ‘Prince’ Naseem Hammad – and like the 90’s star has come under criticism for his approach.

The most common accusation thrown at the light-heavyweight star in the making is that his confident displays are disrespecting his opponents and thus the sport.

The only Irish trainer to face the Brit in the pros doesn’t see it that way. The Limerick man, who was in the opposition corner to the Olympic medal winner with Vladimir Belujsky, admits both, he and his charge, were frustrated fighting the talent but at no stage felt disrespected.

Indeed, ‘The Surgeon’s’ approach is one Kelly respects, understands and even admires.

“Ben Whittaker is an absolute pleasure to watch, not even as a coach as a boxing fan,” a coach who often professes his love for James Toney tells Irish-boxing.com.

“I know he gets an awful lot of stick but at the end of the day he’s extremely talented, he is obviously really hard working and funnily enough I spoke to him on a few occasions before and after the fight and he’s actually a humble guy.

“There is no real sh*t about him outside the ring and by God the man is talented.”

Kelly believes there is reason behind the unique antic-packed approach, pointing out it helps him both in and out of the ring.

“I understand he has to sell tickets and also by demoralizing your opponent you are cutting their confidence, the more you showboat the more you bring down his confidence and you’re making the fight easier for yourself. I’ve so much respect for him as a fight.”

The 26-year-old, who was in the news for his stoppage of Khalid Graidia live on Sky last week, only managed to take out Cork’s Big Bad Vlad in the last round of an eight-rounder last year.

Kelly takes pride in the fact his man had a game plan that gave him the ability to reach the final stanza against such a puncher.

“We really worked on a solid game plan for Vlad, keep the weight on his back foot. Ben Whittaker punches so hard, as he showed the weekend. If you go at him he’ll take your head off. Obviously, the ref stopped it in the last round, I don’t think it should have been stopped. How great a performance that would have been surviving eight rounds against Whittaker?”


Integral part of the Irish boxing community for over 13 years