Although he turns 40 in January and lost his previous two big fights that might have led to a world title challenge before Saturday’s easy three-round demolition of the hapless Juan Manuel Matias, Whittaker remains focused on trying to reach the pinnacle.
He had a new trainer, John Scully, in his corner at the King’s Sports Centre and looked as sharp and powerful as ever. But this was against a journeyman fighter, considerably smaller and who has now lost nine of his last ten fights.
Nevertheless, junior-middleweight Whittaker needed a confidence-boosting win and to shake off the ring rust before taking on anybody more demanding. Killa also organized the show with his agent Raul Alvarez on a shoestring budget, never an easy task even when there are a plenty of funds.
Top of the many distractions was the fact that Whittaker is no longer on the government’s elite program and has lost the modest $2,800 a month he previously enjoyed.
At 48, Bernard Hopkins is the oldest world champion ever in the sport. Whittaker is inspired by him, and by coincidence they were both in the ring at the same time. The outspoken American won his bout too, in Alantic City, a unanimous decision against German Karo Murat.
Whittaker won the first two rounds comfortably behind his ram-rod jab and thunderous right. The end came after one minute, 14 seconds of the third when a blistering combination sent the fighter from Dominican Republic down in his own corner.
Matias made the count and was asked if he wanted to continue by Hall of Fame ref Brian Garry but shook his head saying: “No mas.”
In the first bout of the evening, former world class amateur Dariel Ebanks made his pro debut at super-middleweight and had a meaningless win against another Dominican Republic fighter, Elvis “El Burrito” Martinez, who had been stopped in two rounds by stablemate Peter “Lightning” Lewison a year ago.
Martinez had an appalling record of 25 losses in his previous 27 bouts, but considering the scarcity of funds, maybe this was all Knockout Productions could afford.
Southpaw Ebanks only took one minute, 45 seconds to dispatch Martinez this time in his first significant attack, a right and straight left.
Lewison fought next and thankfully this was an even, all-action match. In fact, it was so exciting it warranted TV coverage.
Light-heavy Lewison had been warned by opponent Mike “Money” Sawyer that he was going to get knocked out.
Intent on continuing his five fight stoppage record, Lewison promised to make Sawyer his sixth inside-distance victim.
The six-round contest was a small-hall classic and worth every penny that the 150-odd spectators had paid at a venue donated by owner Rex Ebanks.
They went at it from the first bell to last. Lewison, at 6-feet a couple of inches taller than the stocky Sawyer, was tired from the end of the first round.
The Caymanian bravely fought on, showing amazing heart and resilience to grind out a deserved and popular majority win by scores of 58-56, 58-56 and 57-57.
Sawyer and his corner did not grumble as Lewison finished the bout slightly stronger, landing big shots that backed up the Floridian, but his lack of conditioning should be addressed, otherwise a tougher opponent will easily sap his unbeaten record.
Alvarez said: “We are trying to make a fight with Jamaican Sakima Mullings who won Jamaica’s ‘The Contender’ show.”