Whittaker starches Dredhaj with Knockout of the Year contender

It took Ben Whittaker a while to find the shots to put brave Italy-based Albanian Stiven Leonetti Dredhaj away but when he did, Dredhaj was down and out in four rounds. 

Former Olympic silver medallist Whittaker, now 5-0 (4), followed in a short right hook with a terrific left hook that left the visitor in a crumpled heap and referee Reece Carter waving it off without a count.

Just 54 seconds had elapsed in the session. Dredhaj, who collapsed like a Bournemouth deckchair, is now 11-3-1 (3 KOs).

Whittaker, who has been plagued with injuries since turning pro, was dominant and managed to get away with hitting the visitor after he had been pushed to the floor in the opener. The signs were ominous for Dredhaj. Whittaker was able to land big, hard shots and Dredhaj was unable to get out of the way of them. 

At the end of the second, the fighters went head-to-head and the referee had to warn them both about headbutts. They both were spoken to before the start of the third and Whittaker went to work behind right hands and left hooks and with almost a minute left in the round Dredhaj, bleeding from the nose and mouth, sagged to the floor. 

Referee Carter warned Whittaker for too much showboating, which was in bad taste with Dredhaj clearly hurt, and the crowd booed Whittaker’s actions as the co-main the Bournemouth undercard at the BIC.

No matter, early in round four Whittaker lowered the boom with that massive left hook and Dredhaj was down and out, on the wrong end of one of the biggest knockouts of the year.

Welsh southpaw and former Olympic gold medallist Lauren Price eased to 6-0 (1 KO) after claiming every round of eight against Italy’s former European champion Silvia Bortot.

Price’s quality shone through early on. The Robert McCracken-trained star worked to the body and head and showed tremendous variety.

Bortot, who lost a wide decision to Mikaela Mayer in her last fight, was courageous but often caught on her way in as she tried to attack and Price was in clear control, working up and downstairs and helping herself to combinations. Defensively the Welsh woman was equally sound and very little was getting through as she romped home to a landslide 80-72 victory.

Bortot is now 11-4-1.