PUTTING Silsden on the boxing map is high on the list of priorities for Danny Whitaker ahead of his professional boxing debut.

The 28-year-old from Silsden, nicknamed Big Dawg, is gearing up for his professional debut at the York RI Sports Hall Railway Institute on Saturday, June 29. He will fight a yet to be determined opponent after his previous foe dropped out.

The heavyweight fighter aims to make a name for himself in the sport and want to win central area titles and then move on to claim English and British belts.

He previous had a great record as a semi-professional, winning 19 of his 20 bouts, but gave up his pursuit of glory in the ring when he became a father, but now he's back looking to pursue his dreams.

Whitaker is wrestling a busy training regime of twice daily, six days a week, sessions with his role working full-time in telesales. He trains at Newby's Combat Arts Academy (NCAA) in Silsden alongside former karate world champion born in Silsden, Paul Newby, and at Boxxfit in Guiseley.

Whitaker said: "At the moment, my opponent has just been changed, the previous one dropped out. My opponent is waiting to be finalised. Not knowing who it will be yet does not effect my preparations.

"I've been training really hard. I've been training twice a day. I have one day a week off.

"It's now or never. I'm a heavyweight and they do go on longer, look at Wladimir Klitschko. I don't know what I can achieve. I'm taking it one step at a time. At first I'm hoping to take four or five fights a year for the first couple of years.

"It's my first fight and I want to make an impact. I have lost a stone and I'm weighing in at 18 stone.

"I'm pretty much ready now. I'm doing sparring now.

"I have two kids and we have a daughter due in September. I'm hoping for a 1-0 record when my daughter is born.

"I just want to graft and ideally want to make a living from this and make a better future for myself and my family. Boxing is something that I'm good at. I want to go for as long as I possibly can.

"It's hard work, it's taking its toll at the moment, I'm not home that much.

"My first fight is four three-minute rounds. I'm expecting to win by knockout.

"To be a professional athlete from Silsden makes me proud. I want to put my name up there. I will have a massive support from Silsden at my first fight. I have a coach full of people going from Silsden.

"I can't wait to smash my way through the British heavyweight rankings and put Silsden on the boxing map."

Tickets for Whitaker's debut fight, first bell 7pm, are available from behind the bar at the Red Lion, Kirkgate, Silsden.