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Ben Whittaker Shines in Victory Over Ezra Arenyeka Despite Dirty Tactics

Ben Whittaker Shines in Victory Over Ezra Arenyeka Despite Dirty Tactics

Ben Whittaker produced a dominant performance to beat Ezra Arenyeka despite taking a headbutt and an elbow to the face in Saturday’s co-main event at Selhurst Park. The Olympian cruised through a one-sided, occasionally ugly contest to clinch a unanimous decision win with scores of 100-89, 99-90, and 99-90.

Whittaker’s entrance, backed by an orchestra, set the stage for his commanding display. He toyed with and out-classed Arenyeka, who had earned his spot in the fight by gate-crashing Whittaker’s press conference before his last bout against Leon Willings.

Despite a fiery build-up that saw Whittaker headbutted at the end of the sixth round and elbowed in the seventh, these incidents were minor blemishes in an otherwise stellar performance. Whittaker, now 8-0 as a professional, is looking towards a potential main event later in the year against more challenging opponents.

From the opening bell, Whittaker showcased his superior skill set, shelving his usual showboating to send a clear message to Arenyeka and any other opportunistic challengers. Arenyeka, critical of Whittaker’s showmanship during the build-up, quickly succumbed to the theatre, even exchanging dance moves with Whittaker in the ring.

However, Whittaker soon got back to work, delivering a flurry of jabs, a daunting overhand right, and a perfectly-timed left uppercut. His slick body shots and superior movement left Arenyeka struggling to keep up. A wild exchange in the third round almost saw Whittaker take Arenyeka for a piggy-back as the latter’s momentum swung him around.

In the fourth round, Whittaker landed a spiteful right hand through Arenyeka’s guard, followed by a stiff body shot set up by a feint. He then bobbed and weaved away from Arenyeka’s wayward right hands, showcasing his defensive prowess.

Arenyeka’s early aggression in the sixth round saw him charge forward with misplaced shots, only to be met with patronizing jabs from Whittaker. A quickfire three-punch combination from Whittaker left Arenyeka falling into the ropes.

The bout saw flashpoints as tempers flared. Whittaker, jesting as he walked Arenyeka back to his corner, received a headbutt for his efforts. In the seventh round, Arenyeka flung a backward elbow into Whittaker’s face during a hold, resulting in a point deduction.

Despite Arenyeka’s industry and toughness, Whittaker remained in cruise control for the final rounds. Signs of a stoppage opportunity emerged in the final seconds, with Arenyeka stumbling around in search of the bell.

For Arenyeka, this might be the biggest stage he ever graces. For Whittaker, it’s a mere step towards far bigger, glitzier days ahead.

Credit: Sky Sports

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