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Pernell Whitaker

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Title: Pernell Whitaker  
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Subject: Norfolk Scope, List of boxing triple champions, Oscar De La Hoya, List of boxing quadruple champions, Boxing in the 1990s
Collection: 1964 Births, African-American Boxers, American Male Boxers, American Sportspeople in Doping Cases, Boxers at the 1983 Pan American Games, Boxers at the 1984 Summer Olympics, Boxers from Virginia, Doping Cases in Boxing, International Boxing Federation Champions, International Boxing Hall of Fame Inductees, Living People, Medalists at the 1984 Summer Olympics, Olympic Boxers of the United States, Olympic Gold Medalists for the United States, Olympic Gold Medalists for the United States in Boxing, Olympic Medalists in Boxing, Pan American Games Gold Medalists for the United States, Southpaw Boxers, Sportspeople from Norfolk, Virginia, Winners of the United States Championship for Amateur Boxers, World Boxing Association Champions, World Boxing Council Champions
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Pernell Whitaker

Pernell Whitaker
Nickname(s) Sweet Pea
Rated at Lightweight
Light welterweight
Light middleweight
Height 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in)
Reach 175 cm (69 in)
Nationality American
Born (1964-01-02) January 2, 1964
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Stance Southpaw
Boxing record
Total fights 46
Wins 40
Wins by KO 17
Losses 4
Draws 1
No contests 1

Pernell Whitaker (born January 2, 1964) is an American former professional boxer and current boxing trainer. He won a silver medal as a lightweight at the 1982 Amateur World Championships, followed by gold at the 1983 Pan American Games and 1984 Olympics. In his professional career, Whitaker won world titles in four different weight divisions. During his career he fought a multitude of world champions such as Julio César Chávez, Oscar De La Hoya and Félix Trinidad. For his achievements, Whitaker was named the 1989 Fighter of the year by The Ring magazine.

Whitaker is a former WBA light middleweight champion, WBC welterweight champion, IBF light welterweight champion, WBC/WBA/IBF and NABF lightweight champion, and is universally heralded as one of the top five lightweights of all time.

After retiring, Whitaker returned to the sport as a trainer. Among his trained boxers are Zab Judah, Dorin Spivey, Joel Julio and Calvin Brock. In 2002, The Ring ranked him tenth in their list of "The 100 Greatest Fighters of the Last 80 Years". On December 7, 2006, Whitaker was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility.


  • Fighting style 1
  • Amateur career 2
  • Professional career 3
    • Lightweight 3.1
      • Undisputed Champion 3.1.1
    • Light-welterweight 3.2
    • Welterweight 3.3
      • Whitaker vs Chávez 3.3.1
    • Light-middleweight title 3.4
    • Return to welterweight 3.5
      • Whitaker vs De La Hoya 3.5.1
      • Trinidad vs Whitaker 3.5.2
  • Nickname 4
  • Personal life 5
  • After Boxing 6
  • Professional boxing record 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Fighting style

Whitaker was a "southpaw" (left hand dominant) boxer, known for his outstanding defensive skills and for being a strong counterpuncher. He was not an over-powering hitter on offense but applied a steady attack while, at the same time, being extremely slippery and difficult to hit with a solid blow.

Amateur career

Whitaker had an extensive amateur boxing career, having started at the age of nine. He had 214 amateur fights, winning 201, 91 of them by knockouts, though he says that he has had up to 500 amateur fights. He lost to two-time Olympic Gold medalist Ángel Herrera Vera at the final of the World Championships 1982 but beat him four times, notably in the final of the Pan American Games 1983 in Caracas. He crowned his amateur career with an Olympic Gold Medal in 1984.

Professional career


In just his eleventh and twelfth pro bouts, Whitaker beat Alfredo Layne on December 20, 1986 and former WBA Super Featherweight title holder Roger Mayweather on March 28, 1987. Whitaker won both bouts before hometown crowds at the Norfolk Scope, less than a mile from where he lived as a child in a Norfolk housing project. Whitaker would fight nine times in the Scope arena during his career.

On March 12, 1988, he challenged José Luis Ramírez for the WBC Lightweight title in Levallois, France. He suffered his first pro defeat when the judges awarded a split decision to Ramirez. The decision was highly controversial, with most feeling that Whitaker had won the fight with something to spare. In his 1999 edition of the 'World Encyclopedia of Boxing,' Harry Mullan stated that the decision in this bout was "generally considered to be a disgrace." To date, the decision is rated at or near the top 5 in many observer's worst ever boxing decisions lists.[1][2][3]

Undisputed Champion

Whitaker trudged on, winning a decision over Greg Haugen for the IBF Lightweight title on February 18, 1989, becoming the first boxer to knock Haugen down by dropping him in the sixth round. He then added the vacant WBC belt by avenging his loss to Ramirez on August 20.

Now a champion, Whitaker proceeded to dominate boxing's middle divisions over the first half of the 1990s. In 1990, he defended his Lightweight title against future champion Poli Díaz that ended in another win.


In 1992, he began his ascent in weight, winning the IBF light-welterweight title from Colombian puncher Rafael Pineda on July 18.


On March 6, 1993, he decisioned James (Buddy) McGirt to become the Lineal and WBC Welterweight Champion.

Whitaker vs Chávez

Whitaker was gaining momentum and boxing experts and fans felt that he needed to win against the pound for pound best boxer in the world: Julio César Chávez. The two met in a welterweight superfight simply named "The Fight"[4] on September 10, 1993 in San Antonio, Texas. In the eyes of many of the spectators, Whitaker outboxed the Mexican legend. However, 2 of the 3 judges saw an even bout with the other judge scoring in favor of Whitaker, resulting in a majority draw. Sports Illustrated featured a cover titled "ROBBED!" after the conclusion of this fight[5] and believed that Whitaker had won 9 of the 12 rounds in the fight.[6] The now defunct Boxing Illustrated magazine, whose editor-in-chief was boxing historian Bert Sugar, had a heading on the cover of its post-fight edition telling readers not to buy the issue if they really believed "The Fight" was a draw.[7]

Whitaker continued on to dominate for the next few years, defending his welterweight title in a rematch against McGirt on October 1, 1994.

Light-middleweight title

For good measure, in his next fight on March 4, 1995, Whitaker added Julio César Vásquez's WBA light-middleweight title to his collection. This was a history making fight for Whitaker, as he became only the 4th fighter ever (joining Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Roberto Duran) to have won a legitimate world title in 4 different weight classes. But he chose to remain at welterweight.[8]

Return to welterweight

Whitaker successfully defend his WBC belt against Scotland's Gary Jacobs on August 26, 1995. In January, 1997, Whitaker put his title on the line against Cuban fighter Diosbelys Hurtado. Hurtado gave Whitaker all he could handle and then some. Hurtado had Whitaker down on all the judges scorecards going into the 11th round: Hurtado scored flash knockdowns against Whitaker in rounds 1 and 6, and Whitaker had a point deducted in the 9th round for hitting Hurtado behind the head. But midway in the 11th round, Whitaker landed a left hook that hurt Hurtado and, in a rare display of aggression & power, unleashed a barrage of left-handed power shots, pummeling Hurtado into the ropes, knocking Hurtado out and almost completely out of the ring before referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stopped the fight at the 1:52 mark, giving Whitaker the come-from-behind TKO win.[9][10] The win set up a showdown with undefeated 1992 Olympic gold medalist Oscar De La Hoya.

Whitaker vs De La Hoya

He met Oscar De La Hoya on April 12, 1997, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Whitaker, defending his WBC championship and the mythical status as the best fighter "pound for pound", succeeded in making De La Hoya look bad through his crafty defense, but he was unable to mount a sufficient offense to convince the judges. Whitaker was awarded an official knockdown in the 9th round and, according to CompuBox stats, outlanded De La Hoya in overall punches & connect percentage, using the jab as his primary weapon; but De La Hoya threw and landed almost twice as many power punches & had a slightly higher power punch connect percentage than Whitaker, which may have been the key factor in De La Hoya winning by a disputed unanimous decision. At the end of the fight, the judges' scores were 111-115, 110-116, 110-116.[11] The fight was a whole lot closer than what the final scorecards showed, and there were many boxing analysts and sportswriters at ringside who felt that Whitaker actually won the fight. It was another controversial decision against Whitaker, but it was not seen as a blatant robbery like the Ramirez or Chavez fights.[12][13][14]

For his part, De La Hoya did not seem too pleased with his own performance and had hinted at giving Whitaker a rematch to prove that he could do better against him. But Bob Arum, De La Hoya's promoter at that time, decided against it. [15][16][17]

Whitaker's next bout was against Russian born fighter Andrey Pestryaev in a world title elimination fight, where the winner would earn an automatic #1 contender spot for the WBA Welterweight crown, held at the time by Ike Quartey. Whitaker originally won the fight, but the win was nullified & changed to a No Decision after he failed a post-fight drug test.[18][19]

Trinidad vs Whitaker

On February 20, 1999, Whitaker suffered his first sound defeat against the much bigger, much fresher Félix Trinidad, gamely taking the Puerto Rican the distance in an attempt to win Trinidad's IBF welterweight title.[20] The fight began with both boxers displaying aggressive styles, which included excessive pushing. In the following rounds, both boxers used their jabs most of the time, with Trinidad gaining an advantage when Whitaker attempted to attack inside, eventually scoring a knockdown in round two.[20] In the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds the fighters exchanged combinations.[20] Later in the fight, both boxers fell to the canvas in what were ruled as "accidental slips."[20] On the seventh round, Whitaker displayed more offense, trading power punches with Trinidad, but the champion retained control in the fight's tempo during the eight, ninth and tenth rounds.[20] In the last round, Whitaker, with a badly swollen right eye, displayed a purely defensive stance, avoiding his opponent throughout the round while Trinidad continued on the offensive until the fight concluded. The judges gave the champion scores of 117–111, 118–109 and 118–109.[20]

His last fight came on April 27, 2001, against journeyman Carlos Bojorquez. Whitaker, the former lightweight, entered the ring at 155 pounds. He broke his clavicle in round four and was forced to retire; at the time of the stoppage Whitaker was trailing in all the judges' scorecards by 28-29. Following this fight, Whitaker officially announced his retirement. He finished his professional career with an official record of 40-4-1 (17 knockouts).

In 2002, The Ring ranked Whitaker as the 10th Greatest Fighter of the Last 80 Years.

On December 7, 2006, Whitaker was inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame along with contemporaries Roberto Durán and Ricardo López. They were all elected in their first year of eligibility.


As a youngster, Whitaker was known to friends and family as "Pete" and when he began to emerge as a top amateur, fans in his hometown of Norfolk used to serenade him with chants of "Sweet Pete." This was misinterpreted by a local sportswriter as "Sweet Pea." When this erroneous report came out in the local newspaper, the new nickname stuck.

Personal life

Pernell married Rovanda Anthony on December 21, 1985 in the boxing ring at the Virginia Beach Pavilion Convention Center after a boxing card he had originally been scheduled to compete in until a broken left foot forced him to withdraw.[21] The couple later divorced. They had four children together: Dominique, Pernell Jr., Dantavious and Devon. He has a daughter from a prior relationship Tiara. In February, 2014, Whitaker made national headlines after he evicted his mother, Novella Whitaker, out of the house he purchased for her shortly after he turned pro. Apparently, back taxes were owed on the house and Pernell said that neither his mother nor his siblings, who also stayed in the house, were doing anything to help financially keep the house afloat. Whitaker's lawyers said that he was not making the same kind of money as a trainer that he was as a boxer, and needed to sell off the home to satisfy the tax debt owed. Outside of the Virginia courtroom where the eviction proceedings took place, Whitaker called the ruling in his favor "A beautiful moment."[22]

In the early morning hours of September 1, 2015 Pernell Whitaker Jr. passed away from a rare form of cancer. He died in Virginia Beach, Va surrounded by family and friends.

After Boxing

In June 2002, Whitaker was convicted of cocaine possession after a judge found he violated the terms of a previous sentence by overdosing on cocaine in March.

As of December 2005, Whitaker has taken on the role as trainer in his home state of Virginia. While the decline of speed and agility pushed him into retirement, his knowledge of the ring and components have led him to seek out up-and-coming boxers and train them to fight the way he did.

His first fighter, Dorin Spivey, had several matches scheduled for 2006. Recently, he's been training heralded young prospect Joel Julio.

Pernell Whitaker is also the trainer for IBO titles against Wladimir Klitschko, where Brock was knocked out in the 7th round.

In 2010, he was inducted into the Hampton Roads Sports Hall of Fame, honoring those who have contributed to sports in southeastern Virginia.

Recently, Whitaker also became the new head trainer of former Undisputed Welterweight Champion Zab Judah,[23] who defeated Kaizer Mabuza in March 2011 to win the vacant IBF Welterweight title.

Professional boxing record

40 Wins (17 KOs), 4 Losses, 1 Draw, 1 No Contest[4]
Res. Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 40-4-1 (1) Carlos Bojorquez TKO 4 (10), 0:27 2001-04-27 Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada
Loss 40-3-1 (1) Felix Trinidad UD 12 1999-02-20 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York For IBF welterweight title.
NC 40-2-1 (1) Andrey Pestryaev ND 12 1997-10-17 Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut No-Decision after Whitaker tested positive for cocaine.
Loss 40-2-1 Oscar De La Hoya UD 12 1997-04-12 Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nevada Lost Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 40-1-1 Diosbelys Hurtado TKO 11 (12), 1:52 1997-01-24 Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 39-1-1 Wilfredo Rivera UD 12 1996-09-20 James Knight Convention Center, Miami, Florida Retained Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 38-1-1 Wilfredo Rivera SD 12 1996-04-12 Atlantis Casino, Cupecoy Bay, St Maarten, Netherlands Antilles Retained Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 37-1-1 Jake Rodriguez KO 6 (12), 2:54 1995-11-18 Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 36-1-1 Gary Jacobs UD 12 1995-08-26 Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 35-1-1 Julio Cesar Vasquez UD 12 1995-03-04 Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey Won WBA light-middleweight title.
Win 34-1-1 James McGirt UD 12 1994-10-01 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia Retained Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 33-1-1 Santos Cardona UD 12 1994-04-09 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia Retained Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Draw 32-1-1 Julio Cesar Chavez MD 12 1993-09-10 Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas Retained Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 32-1 James McGirt UD 12 1993-03-06 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Won Lineal/WBC welterweight titles.
Win 31-1 Ben Baez KO 1 (10), 0:37 1992-12-01 Virginia Beach, Virginia, Virginia
Win 30-1 Rafael Pineda UD 12 1992-07-18 Mirage Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada Won IBF light-welterweight title.
Win 29-1 Jerry Smith KO 1 (10) 1992-05-22 El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos, Mexico City, Distrito Federal
Win 28-1 Harold Brazier UD 10 1992-01-18 Pennsylvania Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Win 27-1 Jorge Paez UD 12 1991-10-05 Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno, Nevada Retained IBF/WBC/WBA/The Ring lightweight titles.
Win 26-1 Policarpo Diaz UD 12 1991-07-27 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia Retained IBF/WBC/WBA/The Ring lightweight titles.
Win 25-1 Anthony Jones UD 12 1991-02-23 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained IBF/WBC/WBA/The Ring lightweight titles.
Win 24-1 Benjie Marquez UD 10 1990-11-22 Sports Palace, Madrid, Comunidad de Madrid, Spain
Win 23-1 Juan Nazario KO 1 (12), 2:59 1990-08-11 Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada Retained IBF/WBC lightweight titles.
Won WBA & The Ring lightweight titles.
Win 22-1 Azumah Nelson UD 12 1990-05-19 Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, Nevada Retained IBF/WBC lightweight titles.
Win 21-1 Freddie Pendleton UD 12 1990-02-03 Convention Center, Atlantic City, New Jersey Retained IBF/WBC lightweight titles.
Win 20-1 Martin Galvan TKO 3 (?) 1989-12-11 Paris, Paris, France
Win 19-1 Jose Luis Ramirez UD 12 1989-08-20 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia Retained IBF lightweight title.
Won vacant WBC lightweight title.
Win 18-1 Louie Lomeli TKO 3 (12), 2:37 1989-04-30 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia Retained IBF lightweight title.
Win 17-1 Greg Haugen UD 12 (12) 1989-02-18 The Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia Won IBF lightweight title.
Win 16-1 Antonio Carter TKO 4 (10) 1988-11-02 Virginia Beach, Virginia, Virginia
Loss 15-1 Jose Luis Ramirez SD 12 1988-03-12 Stade de Levallois, Levallois-Perret, Hauts-de-Seine, France For WBC lightweight title.
Win 15-0 Davey Montana TKO 4 (10), 2:14 1987-12-19 Paris, Paris, France
Win 14-0 Miguel Santana TKO 6 (12), 1:02 1987-07-25 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia Retained NABF lightweight title.
Won USBA lightweight title.
Win 13-0 Jim Flores KO 1 (10) 1987-06-28 Las Americas Arena, Houston, Texas
Win 12-0 Roger Mayweather UD 12 1987-03-28 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia Won vacant NABF lightweight title.
Win 11-0 Alfredo Layne UD 10 1986-12-20 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia
Win 10-0 Rafael Gandarilla UD 10 1986-10-09 Felt Forum, New York, New York
Win 9-0 Rafael Williams UD 10 1986-08-16 Sands Casino Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 8-0 John Montes UD 10 1986-03-09 The Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia
Win 7-0 Jesus De la Cruz KO 1 (8), 2:22 1985-11-12 Norville, Texas
Win 6-0 Teddy Hatfield KO 3 (8), 2:42 1985-08-29 Georgia
Win 5-0 John Senegal TKO 2 (8), 1:29 1985-07-20 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia
Win 4-0 Nick Parker UD 6 1985-04-20 Memorial Coliseum, Corpus Christi, Texas
Win 3-0 Mike Golden TKO 4 (6), 2:54 1985-03-13 The Scope, Norfolk, Virginia
Win 2-0 Danny Avery TKO 4 (6) 1985-01-20 Harrah's Marina Hotel Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Win 1-0 Farrain Comeaux TKO 2 (6), 2:50 1984-11-15 Madison Square Garden, New York, New York Professional debut.

See also


  1. ^ Ranking the 15 Worst Judging Decisions in Boxing History
  2. ^ 5 More Of the Worst Decisions in Boxing
  3. ^ The List: The 10 Worst Decisions in Boxing History
  4. ^ http://eyeonthering.coms/default/files/whitakerchavez.jpg
  5. ^ "Robbed": Whitaker-Chavez bout, September 1993 Cover - Sports Illustrated
  6. ^ The Whitaker-Chavez fight, September 1993 Article - Sports Illustrated "Beaten To The Draw"
  7. ^ [5] Boxing Illustrated: Chavez-Whitaker cover
  8. ^ | Whitaker vs. Vasquez
  9. ^ Whitaker, Knocked Down, Comes Back to Knock Out Challenger
  10. ^ Whitaker vs Hurtado
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ A Look Back At Whitaker v De La Hoya, And A Bitter End To "Sweet Pea's" Time At The Top
  14. ^ De La Hoya Proves He Can Win Ugly
  15. ^ "Oscar Time". CNN. 1997-04-21. 
  16. ^ [[6]
  17. ^ De La Hoya Camp Says No Rematch Fighting Whitaker Again Would Not Be ``good Business, The Boxer's Promoter Claims.]
  18. ^
  19. ^ Ex-champ Whitaker Could Face 6-month Suspension For Drugs
  20. ^ a b c d e f Luis Escobar (1999-02-20). "Trinidad Outduels The Master". The Boxing Times. Archived from the original on 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2007-08-13. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ Velin, Bob (March 4, 2011). "Zab Judah continues his personal road to redemption". USA Today. Retrieved March 6, 2011. 

External links

  • Amateur record (incomplete)

Datos y curiosidades sobre Pernell Whitaker en espanol

  • Professional boxing record for Pernell Whitaker from BoxRec
Preceded by
Mike Tyson
Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year
Succeeded by
Julio César Chávez
Preceded by
Mike Tyson
BWAA Fighter of the Year
Succeeded by
Evander Holyfield
Preceded by
Riddick Bowe
BWAA Fighter of the Year
Succeeded by
George Foreman
Preceded by
Greg Haugen
IBF Lightweight Champion
February 18, 1989 – 1992
Succeeded by
Freddie Pendleton
Preceded by
Julio César Chávez
WBC Lightweight Champion
August 20, 1989 – 1992
Succeeded by
Miguel Ángel González
The Ring Magazine Lightweight Champion
August 11, 1990 – January 14, 1992
Succeeded by
Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Preceded by
Juan Nazario
WBA Lightweight Champion
August 11, 1990 – 1992
Succeeded by
Joey Gamache
Preceded by
Rafael Pineda
IBF Light Welterweight Champion
July 18, 1992 – 1993
Succeeded by
Charles Murray
Preceded by
Buddy McGirt
WBC Welterweight Champion
March 6, 1993 – April 12, 1997
Succeeded by
Oscar De La Hoya
Lineal Welterweight Champion
March 6, 1993 – April 12, 1997
Preceded by
Julio César Vásquez
WBA Light Middleweight Champion
March 4, 1995 – 1995
Succeeded by
Carl Daniels
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Julio César Chávez
The Ring Pound-for-Pound #1 Boxer
September 10, 1993 – July 29, 1994
Succeeded by
James Toney
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