The year 2020 was one that interrupted the careers of many boxers across Australia. If you search through the records of multiple fighters, you will see significant gaps between bouts caused by the COVID-19 shutdown.
Forewarning, it makes for extremely tough reading if circumstances are considered.
Whether it be because of their engrained desire to compete, for the want to improve oneself or to gain financial incentives, fighters need to fight. The inability to do so can disrupt livelihoods just as much as it can bring a halt to career trajectories.
Some were lucky enough to escape the turmoil however, squeezing in a contest as each state opened up during the later months. To this end, they retained their spot at the forefront of the Australian boxing public’s collective mind.
Others, like Victorian Jason Whateley (8-0, 7 KOs), were not so fortunate.
After claiming the Australian Cruiserweight title against Daniel Russell in December 2019, he was forced to wait until April of this year to continue his rapid rise up the Australian ranks.
In a somewhat ironic twist, he would defeat Daniel’s brother Aaron for the IBF Australasian Cruiserweight title, both fights ending by TKO inside the scheduled 10 rounds
On the back of such a lengthy spell of inactivity, Whateley has vowed to stay busy for the remainder of 2021.
“We stayed pretty fit after beating Aaron Russell,” he told The Inner Sanctum.
“We’ve sort of just flown straight into another camp which has been great – very fit at the moment which is good. I’m very excited.”
The opportunity to continue on a regular fighting timetable will come on Wednesday night’s ‘Termination Day’ card, headlined by a Heavyweight clash between Justis Huni and Paul Gallen.
The event will be Whateley’s first time competing on televised pay per view, a fact that has not been lost on the 30 year old.
While he competed for Australia on the World stage at the 2016 Rio Olympics, it can be said that there is a certain kind of magic associated with such a showcase of professional boxing.
From elaborate walk outs to hair-raising ring announcements, promoters attempt to capture the imagination of fans both watching in the arena and at home.
Then, of course, there is the potential for Wednesday’s show to garner attention from a mainstream audience. This is largely due to the feelings evoked by the name, Paul Gallen. Although a polarising figure in the sport, no argument can be mounted against the drawing power of the ex-NRL star.
People tune in to watch Gallen fight and Whateley is well aware of the magnitude of such an occasion.
To this end, he will aim to do more than stay busy. More accurately, he will be looking to make an everlasting impact from the platform he has been afforded.
“I want to be able to get my name out there. I think most of the boxing world know who I am but if I can get my name out to a few others,” Whateley told.
“It’s just good to be on such a good event, a big event – to finally get myself onto a televised event as well. I’m very excited about that.
“There’s going to be a lot of people outside the boxing world watching.
“It’s a good opportunity to be able to get my name out there and once again put on a good performance, let them remember my name.”
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In what will be a rematch from 2019, Whateley will take on veteran of forty professional fights, Victor Oganov, in a six round non-title affair.
Rocked by an overhand right in the second round of their first bout, the fighter known as ‘The Warrior’ lived up to his moniker, rallying back against an awkward Oganov to force a referee stoppage in the sixth round.
The second meeting between the pair was eventually announced just over a week out from the date, with Whateley experiencing great difficulty finding an opponent.
He even admits that it was nearly a non-event.
“What happened was, we had another opponent lined up and he pulled out. We then got another opponent lined up, same thing again. We even went up to Heavyweight. The second one was a heavyweight we were looking to fight,” he said.
“They gave me the opportunity, I said ‘yes we’ll fight whoever’ and then unfortunately he pulled out and we struggled a little bit then.
“We were sort of up in the air, if we were going to even get an opponent at all and luckily for us that Victor put his hand up, he said ‘yes’, and that’s how it came about.”
Despite the uncertainties regarding his place on Wednesday’s card, Whateley has maintained an active pace in the gym.
Rather than simply going through regular drills and training, he has been a key participant within the camp of the aforementioned Paul Gallen as a sparring partner.
“Paul contacted us in Melbourne and he wanted sparring. He was trying to get someone with quicker hands because Justis has got fast hands,” Whateley said.
“I’ve been sparring a lot with Paul and he’s extremely fit, extremely tough and he knows Justis is a very good boxer. So he’s going to be coming to make it a fight.”
As he approaches what will be his ninth professional outing, Whateley keeps an intrinsic focus. His preparation is centred on forces he can control, meaning the first meeting with Oganov has been cleared from his psyche.
Building on each performance to ensure he is better than his last fight remains the main goal.
“I want to be able to keep improving. I think that’s the biggest thing in any sport or any athlete’s career – they want to keep that improvement going,” Whateley told candidly.
“I’m not looking at whether I stopped him or anything like that.
“From the last time I’m a lot stronger. I’ve got a strength coach who does all my food, does all my strength work now. So I’m looking forward to seeing my improvement in the fight. I’m definitely punching a lot harder.
“I’m more thinking that I really want to improve on my last performance. I’ve obviously had a good chance to look at my last fight and see some things I did wrong, some things I did right as well.
“If I can put them all together, I think I can really put on a good performance and at the end of the day, that’s what I’m trying to do.
“If I can put on that good performance, I’ve got no doubt the result should follow.”
In order to ensure his record stays perfect as a professional, Whateley will be leaning on the attributes that make him a tremendous fighter.
When the bell rings to start round one, he will look to use a significant reach advantage, elite level stamina and a pair of lightning fast hands that find their mark more often than not.
“Expect an exciting fight, most of my fights are. My work rate is always up there, so there’s going to be a lot of punches thrown,” Whateley said.
“I’m definitely never in a boring fight.
“I think you can expect a lot of punches, high work rate and just boxing his ears off. That’s basically what I’m looking for.
“I am always looking to get them out of there before that final bell rings, so looking for the stoppage but also boxing his ears off at the same time.
“I’m pumped to get the opportunity to really showcase my skills and put on a dominant performance.”
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