Dancing around the ring and brimming with confidence, Ben Whittaker has reached the summit of Olympic glory with little hesitation and will battle it out for gold in his first Olympic Games, Anthony Joshua style.
It wasn’t as comfortable as previous Olympic bouts, but Team GB’s Whittaker got the job done in a ‘cute and clever’ performance at the Kokugikan Arena, with judges awarding the West Bromwich boxer a 4-1 victory.
He adopted a defensive style and didn’t give his opponent much joy, frustrating Khataev and giving the judges little option but to send him into the final two.
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The 24-year-old has looked promising so far in Tokyo, overcoming opponents from Columbia, Egypt and Brazil, and until he faced Keno Machado representing the latter in the quarter-finals, he’d hardly broken a sweat.
Before the Games, Whittaker opened-up on his relationship with Joshua, who took a similar route in his boxing career, using his debut Olympic gold on home soil at London 2012 to catapult his career into the boxing elite.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Whittaker revealed the support and advice the two-time World Heavyweight Champion had offered him ahead of the Games in Tokyo.
We’re good friends, we talk a lot, he likes my style because it’s not really a typical GB style.
“He always asks me questions about why I do this, why I do that - we’ve got a good relationship”
Team GB's Pat McCormack qualified for the welterweight division final earlier this morning. His victory came after Ireland's Aidan Walsh withdrew due to an ankle injury.
A statement from Team Ireland said: "Walsh had initially hoped to compete and waited to give himself every opportunity to do so. However subsequent scans and medical reviews have now ruled out this possibility.
McCormack had beaten the Walsh in the semi-finals of the European qualifiers in June and has also enjoyed high profile wins against him in the first round of the 2019 World Championships and the final of the 2018 Commonwealth Games."
Walsh, who injured his ankle in his quarter-final bout, confirmed Ireland's 17th Olympic medal in boxing as he secured bronze.
Whittaker will go for gold this Wednesday in the light-heavyweight final against either Columbia’s Arlen Lopez or Azerbaijan’s Loren Berto Alfonso Dominguez, who face-off later this morning from 8:55am.
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