The year ahead is one where Ben Whittaker intends to get busy.
The 2020 Olympic Silver medalist for Great Britain finally believes himself to be at full strength and rid of any lingering injuries that previously stalled his progress. An early start to 2024 also comes as a quick turnaround for the 26-year-old West Bromwich product, who will face France-based journeyman Khalid Graidia this Saturday on Sky Sports in the U.K. (7:00 p.m. GMT) and Peacock+ in the U.S. (2:00 p.m. ET) from OVO Arena Wembley in London.
“Activity for me is the key,” Whittaker told BoxingScene.com. “My plan for this year is to build my profile and become a household name. We wanted a higher-profile fight and a ten-rounder but this is just to get me in the ring early in the year.
“I want to fight at least five times in 2024, perhaps even pick up some sort of title before the end of the year and get ranked.”
Fittingly, the unbeaten light heavyweight is showcased on a card that features two of his countrymen at the same weight in a head-on battle.
Joshua Buatsi (17-0, 13KOs)—a Bronze medalist for the 2016 Great Britain Olympic team that competed in Rio—and Dan Azeez (20-0, 13KOs) meet in the evening’s main event, in a WBA-sanctioned title eliminator.
Like many, Whittaker (5-0, 4KOs) is genuinely torn on who will prevail, though he has no question how he’d eventually versus either boxer.
“Truthfully, they both know about me,” insisted Whittaker, who turned pro in July 2022. “I’ve sparred with both of them. Skillswise, I can beat both of them. What they got on me is age and experience, and just being under the lights.
“For me, it’s just getting a few more fights under my belt and then going after fighters like [Buatsi and Azeez]. I know I can pick off both guys, they’d be great names on my resume one day.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox