AFTER just two professional fights, unbeaten cruiserweight Jason Whateley is already running out of opponents.
The well-travelled former Olympian, who represented Australia at the Olympics in Rio, will headline his first professional card on Saturday night, topping the inaugural WILDFIGHTER bill at The Timber Yard.
With the business end of training camp now complete, Whateley (2-0, 1 KO) is looking forward to the fun part.
“The entire process for this fight has been so easy,” Whateley told Aus-Boxing.
“I’ve been able to focus on my training, without looking at other distractions like tickets. It’s all been a walk in the park, and quite refreshing as well.”
With ties to The Shire of East Gippsland in Victoria’s east, the unbeaten prospect didn’t think twice about teaming up with fellow Bairnsdale expat, Will Tomlinson.
After holding a friendship for the bulk of their sporting pursuits, a professional relationship made sense.
“We had mutual friends and grew up in the same area,” he explained.
“That’s how we came to working together, I’ve always kept in contact and here we are. Once I knew that he was running a show, I jumped at the opportunity.
“Will obviously knows what it’s like being a fighter, he’s gone through it himself. He knows what we need to succeed and he’s bringing a lot of that, including press and media attention.”
Like many that have trailed the path before him, Whateley realises the importance of maintaining quality opponents, which is often lost with developing professional careers.
And while looming opponent Jonasa Kavika (3-1, 2 KOs) doesn’t mirror his experience, these are fights that crucial for his growth.
“Now that I’ve turned professional, I don’t want to go backwards,” he said.
“I’ve had that good amateur background, consistently fighting the best fighter in the world, while travelling. I think I’ll get the attention of the public by stepping up each fight and having quality opponents.
“The problem that I’m running into is that I need to get a hold of a title as soon as possible.”
Despite not holding a title in the paid ranks, the 28-year-old competes with one eye on national titleholder, Ben Kelleher.
“I’ve got my eyes on the Australian title,” he revealed.
“If I’ve got that belt to give, it’ll hopefully attract more fighters that will want to challenge me, which I don’t have at the moment.
“All the publicity, including some good performances will build my profile. It’s a compliment that these guys don’t want to fight me. But I’m really keen and called for the Australian title after my last fight.
“As long as we can get the money, I think we’ll be able to make a fight like this.”
A long-time rival to leading domestic cruiserweight Jai Opetaia, Whateley admits that he has a way to travel before that fight could be considered.
“Right now it’s not realistic, but it’s one I want down the track,” he continued.
“Jai is doing very well in his career, but I’m not in a spot where we can fight now. He’s done well to get where he is and I’m in the process of building myself, and I’d be thrilled to get the opportunity.”
“Before I move on to bigger things, I want the national title.
“It’s something I’m definitely interested in and it’s something that’s important to me. I want to clear my backyard before I start looking over the fence.”
The enormity of competing as the main event for the first time isn’t lost on Whateley.
However, the added incentive of competing with fellow Olympic teammate Daniel Lewis, who makes his professional debut on the night, only adds to the occassion.
“I can’t explain how stoked I was to be fighting on the same card as Daniel,” he concluded.
“We were the only two males to compete at the Olympics in Rio, we have so much history, we’re like brothers. To headline the card that he makes his debut on, it’s pretty cool.
“It’s made something that I was already excited for, even bigger.”
Photo: Ray Rolla