Charles ‘The Killa’ Whittaker will train in the Philippines after all thanks to the generosity of the Ministry of Sport.
The WBO NABO light-middleweight champion faces Luther ‘Sugarman’ Smith at the Lions Centre on 8 March and if Whittaker wins that he’s in line for that elusive world title, albeit an interim one.
Whittaker usually trains with Norman Miller and John David Jackson in Hollywood, Florida but Jackson is working with other fighters and Miller has personal and professional interests in the Philippines that he has to attend to.
Whittaker, 34, is ecstatic that he’ll be coached in Manila by his American trainer who is married to a Filipino and has a business there. ‘I’ll be going out to the Philippines to train for this fight. I like being coached by Norman,’ he said. ‘He keeps a level of intensity. John is a great trainer also but everything Norman does is about the fight. I just like his level of intensity and ability to get me focused.’
Minister of Sport Alden McLaughlin has raised the money – believed to be around $10,000 – so that Killa and a sparring partner can leave for Manila on Monday and train there until a few days before his bout. It’s a 15 hour flight involving at least two planes but Whittaker doesn’t mind. He will arrive back in Cayman four days before the contest.
‘No matter how big or small the request, Mr McLaughlin delivers. I saw Alden today and had to hug him and give him a kiss and tell him: ‘Thanks man, I really appreciate it’.’
Whittaker, 29-12-2 (17 Kos), could easily have saved himself a lot of hassle by training in Florida, but he wants to be in optimum condition against Smith 23-6 (12 KOs) because a loss at this stage of his career would be disastrous. American Smith, 33, is a tough fighter capable of an upset. Whittaker has taken years to get into the top 10 and knows that at his age this could be his last chance.
‘I’m No.7 in the WBO rankings and once I get this fight out the way my next contest should be for the interim world title. The champion, Sergiy Dzinziruk, is long-termed injured. Oscar De La Hoya is No.1 in the rankings but he’s not interested. For the interim title I’ll probably be fighting Lukas Konecny, who is No.2.
‘Roman Karmazin was one place above me in the rankings but he got knocked out on the Roy Jones Jr-Felix Trinidad undercard recently so I’m going to move above him. A couple of the other guys above me are tied up so I’m just biding my time and keep winning and pretty soon I figure by year’s end I should get my shot. It ain’t easy but I’m working.’