Three Tokyo Olympians will be in action on the Chris Billam-Smith vs Isaac Chamberlain undercard at the Bournemouth International Centre on July 30, live on Sky Sports.
Olympic silver medallist Ben Whittaker will make his highly anticipated professional debut, former GB Boxing team captain and super-heavyweight bronze medallist Frazer Clarke returns from injury, and rising star of the women’s sport Caroline Dubois will have her third pro fight.
For his first professional contest Whittaker will take on Sunderland’s Greg O’Neill in a bout scheduled for six rounds.
Whittaker’s pro debut was due to take place earlier this month but was postponed when show headliner Hughie Fury had to withdraw due to illness. It meant an unexpected delay for Whittaker.
But he told Sky Sports, “All I see it as is extra weeks to learn with Sugar[Hill Steward, his new trainer], extra weeks just to get better and fitter. You have to look at the positives.”
He has been waiting a long time for this moment. Whittaker hasn’t boxed since the Olympic light-heavyweight final in August of last year.
“I had my surgery [on a shoulder injury], so I was getting over that. Then I had the ‘who will he sign with, when will he sign,’ so I was going through all that stage. So I signed, got the date, started picking things up. It would have been fight week now and then I had a blip,” he explained. “That’s pro boxing.”
Since joining Frazer Clarke and Caroline Dubois in the stable of BOXXER promoted fighters, hype has been building around the man from Darlaston.
“It’s good but you can’t buy into it really. You’ve got to back it up now,” he warned.
“It was nice to get that type of treatment [from BOXXER and Sky], it shows what type of investment they’ve got but it’s nothing if you go out there and perform like rubbish. That’s why I’m putting the work in.”
Heavyweight Clarke is eager to make his mark in the division. A fracture in his thumb has kept him out of the ring since February, but he is back punching and eager to demonstrate how much potential he has.
Another highly successful amateur, Dubois is only 21 and showing her talents as she adapts to the pro sport. She will box Tanzania’s Happy Daudi in a scheduled six-rounder.
“For this year I just want to get used to being in the ring, used to fighting in a professional ring, under the bright lights in front of thousands of people, in front of the cameras, being put under that pressure,” she told Rob Tebbutt.
“Next year definitely I want to step it up. I want to start fighting people that have got good names who are coming to win and coming to push me back and try and take what’s mine. It’s going to be exciting.
“I want to step up and see how good I am.”
Scotland’s John Docherty, a hard-punching 12-1 light-heavyweight, will be on the July 30 bill against unbeaten Diego Costa.
Joe Pigford, a heavy-handed super-welterweight himself, will also be in action in Bournemouth as will cruiserweight Mikael Lawal, Hassan Azim, the brother of Adam Azim, and local man Lee Cutler.
Listen to Ben Whittaker on the Toe2Toe podcast here