Whittaker and Clarke to lead GB charge as Tokyo qualification hits London

Ben Whittaker is hoping home advantage is what he needs to book his place at this year's Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The 22-year old is one of the world’s leading light heavyweights having won bronze at last year’s World Championships and claimed silver for Team GB at last year’s European Games in Minsk.

And with tickets now on sale as London is set to stage an all-important qualifier, Whittaker is determined to seize his chance and summon the spirit of London 2012 where Anthony Joshua, Nicola Adams and Luke Campbell all claimed Olympic gold. BUY TICKETS NOW

He said: “Last year was huge for me as I felt I really proved myself as a top international boxer, so it has given me a lot of confidence coming into the qualifying campaign. Having the first event in London is a bonus.

“I remember watching the boxing at London 2012 on television and the atmosphere was just electric. If we can get anywhere close to that it will be absolutely amazing.”

London’s Copper Box plays host to Britain’s biggest Olympic boxing event since 2012 when the Boxing Road to Tokyo Qualifying competition takes place between 14-24 March.

It will serve as the first European qualifier for Tokyo, with up to 450 of Europe’s best boxers from 50 nations compete for 77 places at the Games.

GB Boxing are set to select eight men and five women and those who fail to make the cut could be afforded the chance at the final qualifying event in Paris from May 14-24.

Heavyweight Cheavon Clarke is another hoping to earn his quota spot and expects plenty of friends and family to support him as he looks to underline the promise he showed with a bronze at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

“I have grown-up and spent a lot of my life in London so to have the Olympic qualifier here is fantastic,” Clarke said.

“As part of the GB Boxing squad we usually compete abroad so to have such an important event on home soil is fantastic. All of the boxers in the squad are pleased about it and really excited at the prospect of competing in London.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has welcomed the decision to host the European qualifying event in London, highlighting the city’s track record of putting on memorable sporting spectacles.

He said: “London is the sporting capital of the world and it’s fantastic we’re hosting yet another world-class event.

“Londoners and visitors alike can look forward to a thrilling spectacle at the Olympic Park in March, as Europe’s best boxers compete for a place in the Tokyo 2020 Games.” Sportsbeat 2020.