Ben Whittaker compared to Paul Gascoigne as Ben Shalom hits back at angry fans – EXCLUSIVE | Boxing | Sport

Ben Whittaker compared to Paul Gascoigne as Ben Shalom hits back at angry fans - EXCLUSIVE | Boxing | Sport

Ben Shalom has issued a passionate defence of Ben Whittaker’s showboating antics by comparing him to the likes of Paul Gascoigne, John McEnroe and Michael Jordan. Whittaker has developed a reputation for showing off in the ring and was at it again during his latest triumph over Leon Willings last weekend.

Whittaker danced back to his corner at the end of the opening round, in which he scored a knockdown, before dominating the rest of the fight to earn a one-sided victory. Earlier this year, he went viral for dancing around the ring and flamboyantly dodging punches on his way to a stoppage win over Khalid Graidia.

The 26-year-old’s unique antics have been making plenty of waves, with some fans loving the entertainment and others labelling his style as disrespectful. Shalom, who promotes Whittaker under his BOXXER brand, is not planning on asking him to tone it down any time soon.

“That’s Ben and he’s done that since he was an amateur,” Shalom told Express Sport. “He likes to fight with freedom and expression and entertainment. He understands that it’s a business as well but also it’s very natural to him. To take that out of someone, I think it would be wrong.

“All the greats, you’re thinking football and Paul Gascoigne, Eric Cantona. You think of the greats of tennis, the [John] McEnroes that sometimes go over the edge. You think of Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, they had their moments. I believe he is that type of character.

“He is the future of boxing. He understands the sport and he wants to express himself in the ring. It’s still very early in his career but he’s got superstar written all over him and we want him to continue making headlines. We need figures in this sport and we need people doing things we haven’t seen before.

“Sometimes a criticism of boxing is that it’s not always easy to understand, maybe it feels like the sport can be repetitive for those who aren’t involved. You’ve got the long-winded underside, things like that. I think he’s a breath of fresh air and I think he’s someone that’s going to make boxing very cool, something that really appeals to the younger generations as well.”

Whittaker has won all seven of his professional fights since joining BOXXER two years ago and is being widely tipped as a future star of the sport. He is trained by SugarHill Steward, who also works with Tyson Fury, and Shalom believes he is the natural heir to the Gypsy King as the next face of British boxing.

“He’s already more than on his way,” added Shalom. “The following and the trajectory he’s on is remarkable. I think when you see Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua getting to the end of their careers, we’ve got somebody here who I believe will take over the whole sport, never mind British boxing.

“He’s a superstar in the making and we should be grateful that he’s in this era because I think he’s going to be the one that keeps boxing on the front pages. A phenomenal talent and a phenomenal showman.”

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