Pernell Whitaker left an unforgettable impact on boxing
The pound-for-pound legend Pernell Whitaker, who tragically passed away at the age of 55 after a car accident, was a remarkable boxer and a defining figure in the sport, especially for his ability to hit-and-not get hit. For those not aware of the verbiage of boxing that is called defense, and Whitaker was one of the best to do it.
Recognized as a defensive wizard without parallel, he reigned as the pound-for-pound king throughout much of the 1990s, what doesn't get talked about is his power. While the defense wowed many onlookers, Whitaker had legit one-punch KO power.
Whitaker's journey began with an Olympic gold medal in 1984, setting the stage for a hall-of-fame professional career that saw him claim six world titles across four weight classes.
During this time, Whitaker became the undisputed lightweight world champion in the three-belt era. This often gets forgotten as we now live in the four-belt era, in which we don't acknowledge past eras as undisputed champions as it is four-belt or bust in terms of marketing. Whitaker would also hold titles at the junior welterweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight divisions.
His flashy style made Whitaker a household name during his pro tenure from 1984 to 2001, as he was one of the fighters that fans who didn't watch boxing would want to see what his fights looked like.
One of Whitaker's most memorable bouts was against Julio Cesar Chavez on September 10, 1993, at the Alamodome in San Antonio. Despite showcasing a masterclass performance and seemingly outboxing Chavez, the judges controversially scored the fight a draw. This unjust decision might be ruled as a win in fight fans' hearts, but it is a glaring moment that robbed Whitaker of a major crowning achievement. As the bout is a sad testament to at times boxing has a political nature - one in which fighters who bring in a lot of money, like Chavez, at th time, will get every bit of the benefit of the doubt. The outcome was so hotly debated that Sports Illustrated ran a headline on the cover of their issue that said "Robbed!"
Whitaker's legacy is marked by his technical mastery, along with legendary moments that defied what we the world thought possible in the sport of boxing. Whitaker was a pioneer, who created his legacy his own way.