Ben Whittaker suffers Commonwealth Games disappointment
By his own admission, Ben Whittaker was supposed to win Commonwealth gold here in Australia.
But the pre-tournament favourite in the middleweight division – who has been tipped for the very top by none other than Anthony Joshua – was sent packing in the quarter-finals on Wednesday by Scotland’s John Docherty.
This split decision defeat is going to sting for a while – and the 20-year-old -75kg fighter from West Bromwich admitted afterwards he had no-one to blame but himself.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said.
“It was a scrappy fight and I didn’t box my best, but I did think I could have nicked it.
“He was holding a lot and the ref did say that was holding but there was no point given. But it is my own fault really, I didn’t box to the plan that my Dad and my coaches had set.
“I have beaten most of the lads here so I was supposed to win. But it is one of those things. If you don’t turn up on the day.”
A smiling Whittaker could not have looked more relaxed before the first bell – but once the fight began it soon became clear that this would not be the cakewalk his opener had been.
Docherty, an ungainly but street-smart southpaw from Scotland, clinched and countered against a clearly frustrated Whittaker.
Despite his impressive reach and speed, Whittaker could not get a rhythm going at all and there could be few complaints when the judges announced a 4-1 decision in Docherty’s favour after the three rounds of action.
The goal for Whittaker remains Tokyo 2020 and the Olympics before turning professional – and there have already been some offers for the youngster to give up the amateur game.
But on this evidence, there is still plenty more for the 20-year-old to learn.
“I wanted to throw a lot more shots, he is a cagey kid who doesn’t like to counter – he is very defensive and that makes it a bit tricky,” he added.
“But not 'good 'defensive, he just doesn’t want to engage in a fight so that means I have to go to him and that made it scrappy.
“The coaches told me to put my shots together and make him come, but he didn’t want to so I had to go out of my way to go to him.
“But you have to win the scrappy ones as well.”
Docherty clearly relishes the challenge of facing the much-hyped Whittaker – he also downed him in the Commonwealth Youth Games finals back in 2015.
“It was a 3-2 split back then so he has got me again on another split decision," added Whittaker.
“It’s funny because when we go to tournaments I always medal more than him but when we meet he always seems to nick it over me.”
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