London – Ben Whittaker insisted this week that although he was focused on beating Khalid Graidia, he had one eye firmly fixed on the top of the bill fight between Dan Azeez and Joshua Buatsi. Whittaker (6-0, 5 KO’s) was as good as his word and the light heavyweight produced an explosive performance. Whittaker has attracted plenty of criticism for his showboating but realizing that Graidia (10-14-5, 3 KO’s) has mixed in good company, the 26-year-old from Birmingham boxed an extremely business like opening round. Th Frenchman fired in a couple of winging overhand rights but found Whittaker an elusive target. Whittaker boxed nicely, using plenty of upper body movement, firing in straight punches and feeling confident enough to lead with uppercuts.
Midway through the second round, Whittaker dipped to his left and dug in a picture perfect left hook to the body. Graidia winced and sank to a knee. Rather than looking for the finish, Whittaker launched into triple salchow, hopping 360 degrees on one leg. The spin earned him a warning from the referee and gave Graidia a brief respite. Whittaker was back to business in the third. Graidia was trying to land his jab but even if it landed, Whittaker was able to slip just out of range and counter with his hard right hand. The right hand also worked well when Whittaker decided to get off first. He would use his jab to set the distance and fire in his right hook around Graidia’s tight guard. Having kept things pretty orthodox – by his standards – through three rounds, Whittaker opened his bag of tricks in the fourth. He was warned for slapping Graidia on the top of the head and broke into a dance routine Michael Jackson would have been proud to choreograph before picking up his second warning of the round for flicking with the back of his hand. Impressively, Whittaker manages to land hurtful shots while he is taunting his opponents. The frustration was clearly mounting in Graidia and he swung away, missing wildly and being countered with hard, hurtful shots. Graidia’s heart was close to being broken and Whittaker came out for the fifth intent on ending matters and the showboating stopped. Graidia was hurt throughout the round and found himself pinned on the ropes where Whittaker exploded with a hard, accurate two-handed attack, landing to head and body and mixing body shots with uppercuts. Gradia dropped to the canvas and the fight was waved off at 1.57 of the fifth.