Ben Whittaker was just a couple of questions into a routine press conference to promote his fight with Leon Willings when the relatively unknown Ezra Arenyeka brought proceedings to a shuddering halt and inserted himself directly into the light heavyweight prospect’s career. 

As everybody in the room craned their necks to see who was causing the commotion, Arenyeka’s trainer, Anthony Farnell, knew exactly where the noise was coming from. 

“He told me he was gonna do it,” the Mancunian told BoxingScene. “He was telling me that he couldn’t get fights and that he was having to pay for himself to fight. He told me he needed a fight and that he’d love to fight Whittaker. He said he might go down and put it on him at the press conference and asked what I thought.

“I said, ‘Look, if you wanna get your name that way, do it.’ He kicked up a fuss but when he got the fight, I told him it was time to just chill out and train. He doesn’t have to do all the shouting now. The fight is made. He’s been true to his word and he’s trained like a demon. Now, he’s got a hard fight.”

Farnell knows all about hard fights. He never shied away from a gruelling contest and although he had some underrated boxing skills, he supplemented them with dedication, fitness and aggression. When he was a 19 year-old, raw 1-0 novice, Farnell went into the away corner and stopped Commonwealth silver medallist, Martin Renaghan.

If anybody knows how to prepare the heavy handed Arenyeka, 12-0 (10 KO’s), to shock the world and beat Whittaker, 7-0 (5 KO’s), when they fight on June 15th, it is Farnell. 

The day after seeing Arenyeka talk himself into the fight, Farnell began his homework and sat down to watch the unbeaten Olympic silver medallist beat Willings over eight rounds. 

“Ben’s one of the best prospects in the world. I think he’s a brilliant fighter, but if he’s not 110 per cent, Ezra can drag him into a very, very hard fight,” Farnell said.

“I think we can take a lot from what Leon Willings did. If you straight away run at Ben, he’s got those great amateur skills where he can pick you apart but if you can box him a little bit – like Willings did – you can get to him and you can catch him.”

Arenyeka has a glossy, impressive record but he hasn't boxed anybody approaching Whittaker’s level of ability and will never have experienced the level of attention he will face next week. 

There are positives. Arenyeka has dealt with his lower level of opposition ruthlessly and has been on something of a world tour. He turned professional at home in Nigeria, made his way to Bolton in Lancashire and then returned to Nigeria before turning up in the Netherlands and Colombia.

This will be the biggest stage of Arenyeka’s career but he has gained plenty of worldly experience. Farnell hasn’t been working with Arenyeka long but he has yet to unearth a reason to believe that he will shrink when the ring clears and he finds himself alone with Whittaker. Holding himself together and keeping the tactics and gameplan at the forefront of his mind will be absolutely crucial when things suddenly get real and Whittaker begins to run through his repertoire.

“This is our first fight together but in training, he’s done absolutely everything I’ve said,” Farnell said. “When he’s been sparring, every time I’ve told him to move and box he’s done it, even when he wanted to stand and fight. He’s done absolutely everything I’ve said. I can’t take anything from him. He’s been really good in training.

“He’s unpredictable. He’s very, very strong and very tough. Say you’re sparring a world class fighter, you pretty much know what they’re going to throw. Then you’ll spar a journeyman and they’ll catch you with some weird shot because you’re not used to it. Ezra’s a bit like that. He’s not had a long amateur career like Ben but he’s got that hunger and will to win. If he can get through the first three rounds unscathed, he’s got a good chance.

“As long as he sticks to the plan and the occasion doesn’t get to him – which I don’t think it will – he's got a chance and it’s a chance where he can make his name worldwide. Ben is world class and probably the best prospect in world boxing. If Ezra can beat him, he becomes one of the biggest prospects in world boxing. It turns everything on its head.”

As Farnell says, Whittaker is an exceptional talent whose showboating and in-ring antics overshadow the solid boxing skills that carried him to that Olympic silver medal. Whittaker also possess a cruel streak when he is in the ring. However well he performs, Arenyeka will face some difficult, frustrating moments but although he enters the fight as something of a mystery man his heart and determination to change his life is the one part of his game which is is beyond question. 

“You don’t have to worry about that whatsoever. The guy will keep trying and trying till he’s got no try left in him,” Farnell said. “He won’t shy away from a fight and he won’t run away from him. He has to box smart though. It’s gonna be very hard because we know how good Ben is, how fast he is and how sharp his reflexes are but if you want to be the best, you have to fight the best.”