Darlaston boxer Ben Whittaker through to Olympic gold medal bout

Darlaston light-heavyweight Ben Whittaker declared he wants a medal to match the colour of his hair after reaching the gold medal bout at Tokyo 2020.

Ben Whittaker celebrates after winning against Russian Olympic Committee's Imam Khataev
Ben Whittaker celebrates after winning against Russian Olympic Committee's Imam Khataev

The 24-year-old will fight for the Olympic title on Wednesday morning following a split-decision semi-final triumph over Imam Khataev of the Russian Olympic Committee.

Big-hitting Khataev had won two of his previous three bouts in Tokyo by knockout but Whittaker’s counter-punching style proved too tough a puzzle as he struggled to land clean shots during the three-round contest.

Whittaker performed his now traditional ‘Hadouken’ celebration when the 4:1 decision went in his favour.

He told the BBC: “Yesterday and the day before I have had so many Twitters, Instagrams and Facebooks telling me: ‘That Russian lad is going to knock you out!’

“I thought: ‘OK, we’ll see’. I think I put on a masterclass. It is on to the next one, like Jay-Z says.

“I woke up this morning, I prayed to God. I saw all the messages from home, the whole of Darlaston, the whole of Wolverhampton and the West Midlands

“No-one was beating me today and we don’t stop here. You see the colour of my hair? It’s gold. I want that gold baby!”

Whittaker looked in control from the first bell but was left with work to do after three of the five judges awarded Khataev the opening round.

The Midlands fighter took the second on a 4:1 split and then had the better of a closer third round to secure his place in the final.

Whittaker, who claimed he wanted to become Mayor of Wolverhampton after his quarter-final win over Keno Machedo, thanked the Mayor for his support.

He said: “He's been getting behind me. He thinks it's a joke but I want that chain! When I land back with my gold medal, he better give me it!

“To everyone who is getting up early doors, with your little cup of coffee, your cup of tea with six sugars like I like, I really, really appreciate it.

“Of course I have to stay on task so I can’t get back to all your messages but I love you all so much. You are all in my heart. When I am in the ring I am doing it all for you, rather than myself.”

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