By George Gigney


Showboating can be a hot-button topic in boxing. Some will argue that it’s disrespectful and unnecessary, others will claim there’s nothing wrong with a bit of flamboyancy if a fighter is feeling comfortable enough to do it. Light-heavyweight prospect Ben Whittaker is proving that, whatever you think of showboating, it has an undeniable effect on audiences.

During his one-sided stoppage victory over Khalid Graidia last week, Whittaker – who has displayed some form of ‘flashiness’ in all six of his professional wins to date – went full Naseem Hamed. He was dancing, dropping his hands, ducking and weaving and utterly embarrassing an overmatched Graidia.

There is, obviously, a lot to be said about the level of opposition – Graidia does not have a winning record, looked slow and constantly attacked while square on. And Whittaker, an Olympic silver-medallist, was well aware of this. He knew there was a gulf in class and used the opportunity to not just notch another win, but to really create some waves in what was otherwise a nondescript match-up.

Clips of Whittaker’s showboating quickly racked up millions of views on social media. Whittaker very wisely posted the best ones to his own account and pulled in 100,000 new followers literally overnight. He was invited onto Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour show, a significant platform within combat sports.

So Whittaker achieved exactly what he set out to do; get people’s attention. It’s something that Teofimo Lopez, who fought this past weekend, has also managed to do so well over the past few years. It’s not just about winning, it’s about looking good while doing it.

Fair play to Whittaker. As much as people will moan about him showboating against journeymen, it’s still not an easy thing to do and you can’t deny the impact it’s had on his profile. He’s now ensured that there will be plenty more people interested in his fights from here on in.

One gear in the ‘hype’ machine that could do with replacing is fighters’ insistence on confronting each other in public, with people filming it on their phones. Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia – who recently confirmed they will fight each other later this year – are the latest duo to play out this overused trope. They went head-to-head, apparently furious with one another, before eventually being split apart.

It’s genuinely really boring. There are more interesting ways to sell a fight. There’s no way they dislike each other so much that they have to almost come to blows whenever they meet.


When the news broke that Tyson Fury had suffered a cut in sparring and his superfight with Oleksandr Usyk was to be postponed, there were countless doubters and conspiracy theories. Thanks to pictures and live video interviews with Fury, it’s been made clear that he was legitimately cut – it happens, and it sucks.

But there are still many who are not convinced Fury will actually fight Usyk, despite the fight being signed. The likes of Carl Froch, George Groves and Timothy Bradley have all been on video this week speaking about their doubts around Fury actually following through with the new date against Usyk.

In fairness to them, Fury’s track record is working against him here. There have been instances of him pulling out of fights and he is notorious for changing his mind in an instant. But let’s cut him slack, shall we? The cut on his eye is a nasty one and he needed several stitches for it. He also looks to be in terrific shape; he’s clearly been working hard for what is, on paper, one of the toughest challenges of his career.

Fury will be earning an eye-watering amount for this fight – even if he was afraid of losing to Usyk, as his detractors claim, why would he walk away from such an astronomical sum?

As a boxing fan, it is probably more sensible to keep your anticipation in check and not get too excited until both men have walked to the ring, but where’s the fun in that? Fights of this magnitude and importance don’t come around often, so this writer is choosing to trust all those involved that it will take place on the new date.


As mentioned, super-lightweight Lopez picked up another win at the weekend, outpointing Jamaine Ortiz in Las Vegas. It was an unconvincing and, ultimately, narrow win for Lopez but the more alarming part of the show was his post-fight interview. He decided to go on an almost-impossible-to-follow rant that mentioned Rosa Parks, pyramids and a homophobic comment directed at the crowd. Not even Lopez’ father, who is usually the one spouting nonsense, seemed to know what was going on.

When considered in the context of Lopez’ previous honesty about his mental health and the struggles he’s had outside of fighting, his behaviour after this fight is concerning. In the days leading up to the Ortiz fight, Bob Arum – Lopez’ promoter – was telling journalists that he had never seen Teofimo in such a good headspace. Those words are now ringing rather hollow.

There’s obviously something to be said about how boxers probably shouldn’t be interviewed immediately after they’ve just fought. And this isn’t the first time Lopez has gone off the wall in an interview, so it’s hard to argue this was completely out of character. But still, this didn’t exactly come across as a man on top of his demons. Hopefully Lopez is doing whatever he needs to do outside of boxing to be content and mentally healthy.

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