Jason Whateley ready for biggest professional test

JASON Whateley has adopted a strictly business approach to his punch-for-pay career.

The former Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medallist has taken to the professional game with relative ease, quickly ascending towards the top of the cruiserweight division.

Whateley’s next challenge awaits on Saturday night, where he faces hard-hitting veteran Victor Oganov (32-6, 30 KOs) for the Victorian cruiserweight title at The Timber Yard as part of the WILDFIGHTER ‘RND2’ event.

With a host of quick finishes this year, Whateley (4-0, 3 KOs) looks forward to a potential litmus test.

“I’m excited about it, I can’t wait to have a good, hard fight. The last couple have finished pretty early,” he told Aus-Boxing.

“Everyone is talking about how fit Victor is, and he’s talking about knocking me out. I’m excited about the challenge. I haven’t thought too much into what he’s saying, but a lot of fighters say that stuff.

“I like hearing that he’s confident in himself, which he should be. I’m feeling the same way, I don’t think he’ll make the distance.

“It sounds like we’re both looking at it the same way. I’m confident and you’d hope that he feels the same way. I can’t see him knocking me out.”

Oganov, 42, has campaigned for two decades as a professional, competing in seven countries in a decorated career, lifting a slew of regional titles in the process.

Competing as high as heavyweight for his most recent outing, an admirable stoppage defeat to reigning Australian heavyweight ruler Demsey McKean, Whateley is expecting a game competitor in the opposing corner.

“It takes a bit of guts to jump up and take fights, especially having fought a lot lighter in his earlier days,” he explained.

“For my team, we didn’t look way back into his prime, when he was fighting at super middleweight. That part of my preparation has been hard, we’re not looking at footage from 15 years ago.

“We’ve tried to look at his later fights, that’s the most accurate version of what we’ll get on fight night. I have had a little bit of a look, but I like to focus on what I’m doing.

“My trainer and I have noticed how more intently I have been training. This is the fittest I’ve felt in a while, if not ever.”

The Perth-based slugger appears to be motivated for what could be his career swan song, offering to retire if he doesn’t upset Whateley on Saturday night.

As the unbeaten prospect admits, a contingency plan of sorts may be needed for Oganov, with Whateley well aware of the game-breaking power he possesses.

“In terms of the training, the intensity has been hard because I’m really motivated for this fight and what is ahead of me,” Whateley explained.

“It’s because of that challenge. He’s not going to fall over, that’s for sure. I’m going to have to work for it, which is a good thing.

“I’m used to the unchartered territory, it’s a familiar feeling and I’m quite calm and relaxed from my amateur experience. There’s nothing he can bring that I haven’t seen before.

“Even though the rounds will be different, being over a longer distance that I’ve fought so far, I have done six rounds before and felt fine. I’ve been sparring 10 and 12 rounds comfortably, it shouldn’t phase me.

“I have a good engine, and I’m comfortable going the distance.”

Given the short tenure of his fledgling career, Whateley is somewhat underrated due to his limited time as a professional.

However, his comfortable win on debut over the hard-nosed Navosa Ioata, who gave leading cruiserweight Jai Opetaia a credible challenge just weeks ago, suggests Whateley isn’t far behind.

“It was good to walk straight into the pro ranks with a win like that,” he said.

“When we fought, Navosa only had the one loss, and I thought I was in complete control the whole time. I don’t remember getting caught or ever not having control, that fight gave me heaps of confidence.

“It gave me confidence knowing he did well (against Opetaia), which was a good effort for him. It gives me confidence knowing that he’s up against Australia’s best cruiserweight and gave him trouble.”

A career-best showing against the most legitimate opponent of his career to date should put Whateley in the express lane for an inevitable national title challenge.

Despite not knowing the immediate future of its current holder Ben Kelleher, Whateley won’t let the uncertainty cloud the promise surrounding his fast rise.

“I’m not too sure what’s happening with the belt, but I think it’s going to be vacated,” he concluded.

“I’ve been trying to fight for the national title since my second fight. I’m hoping to get a crack straight after this fight, for me, the sooner the better.”

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Photo: Provided