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Ben Whittaker wins boxing silver after defeat by Arlen Lopez


B

en Whittaker had set his sights on becoming the Mayor of Wolverhampton if he won boxing gold. His silver means the current incumbent’s position is most likely safe.

The 24-year-old, who has been a breath of fresh air in the ring in Tokyo, was simply outclassed by Arlen Lopez in the light heavyweight final.

The Cuban had won gold at the last Olympics at middleweight and, on the evidence of his five bouts, the step-up in weight has not proved particularly problematic.

From the opening bell, he set the tone of the fight, more on the front foot than his British opponent, who used his left jab in metronomically fast fashion but without properly punishing his opponent.

At the opening bell, Whittaker’s corner told him to “stick to the plan” and he upped the aggression in the subsequent two rounds. The judges found in his favour in the third round but the other two went to Lopez to give him the gold.

Whittaker has earned plaudits in Tokyo for both his boxing and his personality. And following an encounter with Floyd Mayweather back in 2017, Mayweather had said: “When are you turning pro? After the Olympics? Oh, hell no, trophies don’t collect nothing but dust.”

He may have shunned the advice from one of the most successful boxers of all time but the plan is to enter the professional ranks in the aftermath of his Tokyo silver.

With his showboating after his previous four rounds – something GB Boxing performance director Rob McCracken had repeatedly advised against – and his repeated quips, one suspects he will be very at home in the pro ranks.

It is already Britain’s most successful boxing performance at a Games since 1920. Frazer Clarke had hoped to be among those celebrating gold but he was undone by Bakhodir Jalolov, the referee forced to step in to stop the fight a minute into the third and final round with a nasty cut having appeared above Clarke’s left eye.

Clarke has been trying since London 2012 to make it to the Olympics in the super heavyweight division. That time, he lost out to Anthony Joshua, who won gold, and four years later Joe Joyce edged him out and went on to win the silver.


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