In just five professional heavyweight bouts, Danny ‘Big Dawg’ Whitaker has already taken on three men with winning records. He beat two of them and is now set to face touted prospect David Adeleye on the undercard of Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce next weekend.
Adeleye has stopped his first three opponents, but Whitaker remains undaunted. “He won’t be being spoon-fed as he was in his previous three fights,” Whitaker told Boxing Social, adding: “I can beat him.
“He’s a puncher, he can box a bit and he looks good. I’m not taking anything away from him, but the difference with me is that he won’t be fighting a journeyman that’s going to just stand in-front of him.
“This has the ingredients to be a really good fight so I’m just hoping that it is on the night. I’ve got massive respect for him and he’s in immense shape, but if he thinks he’s going to walk through me like he did the other opponents he’s got a shock coming on the night.
“I understand he’s a puncher. The plan has to be not to get caught with any silly shots. We’re going to use my attributes, I’ve got good feet, fast hands and good head movement for a heavyweight and that could frustrate him. We’ve got a gameplan we’ve been putting together in the gym and fingers crossed it works.”
The heavyweight prospect started his professional career late, after a successful spell on the unlicensed circuit. He’s answered some critics of that code, too, as his performances so far have shown he has what it takes to compete with experienced professionals.
Sparring sessions with Nathan Gorman and the recently-retired Dave Allen have also bolstered his boxing resume. Now, Whitaker is in a rush to make an impact in the sport. “I’m 30-years old, I want to get as much out of the sport as quickly as I can and get out with my brain still intact,” said Whitaker.
“So, rather than messing around and taking the easy fights and building a record and hoping for something to turn up, I’d rather just smash my way through it and try my best. Hopefully, that will help me up the rankings and get me bigger opportunities than it would if I was just beating up lads from down the pub.”
It’s a commendable attitude towards match-making and one that shows a certain determination, will and strength of character, but even the most strong-minded have struggled with their mental health during lockdown – and ‘Big Dawg’ wasn’t immune.
“After coming out of Ultimate Boxxer and then getting a good win against Chris Healey, I thought I’d built up some momentum and made a good account of myself, just for it all to be forgotten about potentially during lockdown,” he said.
“I had a bit of time off after the Healey fight, I wasn’t in the gym much to be honest. I sort of put a bit of weight on and got a bit depressed. I bet I had a good two months where I didn’t even train. I needed to get my arse back into gear.
“I thought that, because of lockdown, I’d have to start again and get my name out there again and that everything I’d done in the last year might have been for nothing. Thank god that it hadn’t.
“I managed to fight through that difficult period and my fiancé Jade, she helped me. She made me snap out of it, as did the family. The best way is to just get back to the gym, clean the mind out and get back doing what you’re good at. When my fitness started coming back I started feeling the buzz for it again.”
Since then, Whitaker has whipped himself into shape and also accepted an offer to fight Christian Thun in Germany for the IBO Continental title. That bout fell through, but preparing for it meant Whitaker was already in shape when he got the call to fight Adeleye.
Now the Yorkshireman is confident he can spring another upset, buoyed by memories of his skilful defeat of Jonathan ‘God Speed’ Palata – the pre-tournament favourite for 2019’s heavyweight edition of Ultimate Boxxer. ‘Big Dawg’ has high hopes.
“When you look at the odds, I’ll be the underdog, but I prefer that anyway,” he said. “I’m just going to show everyone with my performance. When I boxed Palata everyone thought he was going to win, so I’m ready to prove everyone wrong again.”
If he can pull off a win, Whitaker (4-1, 0 KOs) argues it could pave the way to bigger things and maybe even a lucrative contract with hall of fame promoter Frank Warren.
“There’s nothing more exciting than getting a prospect fighting another prospect, especially at the minute, as you just can’t be too picky and choosy about who you’re fighting,” he said. “Hopefully, with this big risk comes a big reward. If I put in a good performance and get the win, that’ll be two Frank Warren fighters I’ll have beaten and maybe I’ll get offered something contract wise.”