Saturday, May 28, 2011

Career accomplishments of Pernell Whitaker

Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker is arguably the greatest southpaw in the history of boxing. His combination of amazing defense, a nearly unparalleled jab, and an overall very complete and faultless style made him nearly impossible to beat during his prime.

Whitaker's first notable win was no walk in the park, as he went against former super featherweight champ Roger Mayweather. Whitaker went into this fight looking for the kill from the get go, which was unusual to his style, and almost finished the fight in the 1st round after knocking Mayweather down. However, the talented Mayweather survived and was able to drop and hurt a reckless Whitaker in the 9th round with his deadly right hand. Despite this setback, Whitaker continued to punish Mayweather and won a clear decision over 12 rounds. Roger would go on to become champ at 140lbs that same year.

After stopping Miguel Santana, Whitaker got his first title shot against WBC lightweight champ Jose Luis Ramirez. Whitaker would also suffer the first robbery of his career, as he clearly outboxed Ramirez despite being pressured.

After this unjustice, Whitaker quickly sought a fight with the IBF lightweight champ, Greg Haugen, who was coming off of wins over Gert Jacobson and Vinny Pazienza. Whitaker dominated the tough but outmatched Haugen and dropped him with a counter left hand mid way through the fight, but settled for the decision win after a flawless showing. Haugen would go on to win the WBO strap at 140lbs.

Whitaker's first title defense came against top ten Louie Lomeli. Whitaker scored a perfect left hand counter shot with his back against the ropes, flattening Lomeli and leading to the stoppage.

Before closing up 1989, Whitaker sought a rematch against Jose Luis Ramirez. Whitaker avenged his earlier 'loss' by a lopsided 12 round decision, in one of his finest defensive displays of his career.

Next up was Freddie Pendleton, who was rated as one of the top 5 lightweights in the world. Despite Pendleton's deceiving record, he gave Whitaker more trouble than previous opponents Haugen and Ramirez, but Whitaker still decisioned him without much trouble. Pendleton would go on to win the IBF lightweight strap with a decision win over the highly regarded Tracy Spann.

In his next title defense Whitaker was matched against The Great Professor, ATG Azumah Nelson. Nelson was incredibly tenacious and constantly pressured Whitaker, but Whitaker was able to get off his punches too quickly and subdue Nelson with combinations and body shots. Whitaker didn't have any easy night, but he walked away with the clear and impressive win.

Whitaker then unified with WBA lightweight champ Juan Nazario, who was fresh off the fading but still very capable HOF puncher Edwin Rosario. Showing his underrated power, Whitaker took out Nazario with a perfect straight left in the very 1st round.

Whitaker then finished cleaning out the division by beating European champ Policarpo Diaz with a painful body attack, and then lopsidedly outlanding Kronk Gym's Anthony Jones in route to a 12 round decision.

In Whitaker's final title defense at Lightweight, Whitaker took "El Maromero", the erratic and difficult former featherweight champ Jorge Paez. Paez had emerged onto the Lightweight scene with a decision win over Tracy Spann, who was considered by many to be the second best lightweight in the world behind Whitaker. Paez's herky jerky style threw Whitaker off his game for a bit, but without too much trouble Whitaker succeed again with a 12 round decision.

Whitaker then had wins over almost every top fighter at Lightweight, and decided to move up in weight. After easily beating IBF Light Welterweight champ Rafael Pineda, Whitaker went up against the highly regarded James 'Buddy' McGirt, who was fresh off a string of impressive performances against Genaro Leon, Patrizio Oliva and most importantly Simon Brown. McGirt gave Whitaker a difficult night, but ultimately Whitaker's versatility paid off and he was awarded the close but clear decision.

Then Whitaker faced off against the pound for pound best fighter in the world, the legendary 87-0 Julio Cesar Chavez. Unfortunately, Whitaker was robbed of his greatest victory when the judges announced that the fight was a draw. Chavez had fought well, but there was no doubt that Whitaker should have that won. Realistically, this was Whitaker's best win, and possibly the best single win since the 80s.

After a paintjob against Santos Cardona, Whitaker then rematched McGirt and won again more decisively by decision. Having twice beaten the best Welterweight in the world and the pound for pound best, Whitaker decided to briefly move up in weight again to take on WBA light middleweight champ Julio Cesar Vasquez, who was the best 154lb fighter in the world and had only lost once by disqualification. Whitaker won by decision, and moved back down to continue defending his Welterweight belt. Vasquez would win back the WBA strap later that year, and going into the Whitaker match had defended the belt 10 times, including a win over future light middleweight king Ronald 'Winky' Wright.

After an unremarkable title defense against Gary Jacobs, Whitaker would KO southpaw Jake Rodriquez, a top fighter at 140lbs. At this point in his career Whitaker started to slow down and wasn't in his prime condition, as evidence in his next controversial fight against top ten rated Wilfredo Rivera. Whitaker would immediately rematch and beat Rivera more decisively, but it was clear that Whitaker wasn't the same fighter that he was a few years back.

Another scare came in Whitaker's next fight against the rangy Cuban Diosbelys Hurtado. Whitaker would fall behind on the scorecards after being dropped mostly unhurt in the 1st and 6th rounds, but would show his hidden punching power by brutally KOing Hurtado in the 11th round, with Hurtado draped over the ropes.

3 months later Whitaker was back in the ring against the rising, prime and undefeated Oscar De La Hoya, who already had success at 130, 135, and 140lbs. In a controversial and close fight, Whitaker lost his welterweight crown. Many people have either man winning, so I like to look it as a draw, which is how I personally scored it anyways, which is almost like a win considering Whitaker's condition.

This was the last true meaningful fight of Whitaker's very successful career. In his next fight he tested positive for cocaine and ruled a NC, and then he dropped a decision to welterweight destroyer Felix Trinidad, despite hurting Trinidad briefly during the fight. In his final fight against Carlos Bojorquez, Whitaker broke his left clavicle and retired from boxing.

Whitaker's overall prowess in any fighting situation and his oustanding defense helped give him some of the most impressive wins of the last 30 years. At his best there were very few fighters that stood a chance of beating him, and the quality of his wins make him one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Notable wins:
Roger Mayweather
Jose Luis Ramirez(robbery)
Greg Haugen
Louie Lomeli
Jose Luis Ramirez
Freddie Pendleton
Azumah Nelson
Juan Nazario
Policarpo Diaz
Anthony Jones
Jorge Paez
Rafael Pineda
James McGirt
Julio Cesar Chavez(robbery)
James McGirt
Julio Cesar Vasquez
Jake Rodriquez
Wilfredo Rivera
Draw vs Oscar De La Hoya

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