By David Martinez / dmboxing.com
On July 14, 2019 the boxing world lost one of their finest. Pernell Whitaker was killed when he was hit by a car in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Whitaker, originally nick-named “Sweet Pete”, later changed by the media to “Sweet Pea”, was by all accounts truly one of the greatest boxers to ever lace on a pair of gloves, having won world titles in four different weight divisions: lightweight (135), junior welterweight (140), welterweight (147), and junior middleweight (154).
He won a gold medal at the 1983 Pan American Games, and again gold at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. He began a stellar professional career that same year and accumulated an outstanding ring record of 40 wins, 4 losses, one draw, and one no-contest, with 17 by knockout.
In two of his three “Mega Fights”, I personally felt he was robbed. The first was against Jose Luis Ramirez in 1988. Ramirez got the up side of a split decision. The second was a majority draw against Mexican legend, Julio Cesar Chavez in 1993. In another fight, against Oscar De La Hoya in 1997, Whitaker lost a close unanimous decision. While I had De La Hoya winning by a whisker, many of the boxing experts had Whitaker winning the fight.
I rank him as one of the very best defensive fighters ever. Of the many great southpaws, I have Whitaker at #3 on my list of the dozen all-time great southpaw fighters. He is in good company, right behind #1 Tiger Flowers and #2 Marvin Hagler, and ahead of such greats as (in order) Vicente Saldivar, Flash Elorde, Young Corbett III, Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Miller, Lew Tender, Joe Calzaghe, Hector Camacho, and Michael Nunn, to round out my top twelve.
In his 1989 fight with Louie Lomeli, which was nationally televised on ABC Wide World of Sports, the straight left hand punch Whitaker landed to the chin, which dropped Lomeli in round 3, is the best left thrown by a southpaw that I have seen in my 58 years watching boxing. See the fight video link at end of this article – a must watch!
Whitaker was born on January 2, 1964 and was just 55 years old at his passing. Ring Magazine crowned him Fighter of the Year in 1989, and ranked him the 10th greatest boxer in last eighty years.
He was Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006 and the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008.
May his soul rest peacefully in heaven with the Lord.