1980sABCBoxingJim LampleyLightweight BoutsWide World of Sports

Boxing – NABF Lightweight Title – Pernell Whitaker VS Roger Mayweather


This is a really good fight…..for I am a huge fan of both fighters knocking the other down with one punch…..plus it is really rare when the referee takes a fully loaded left hook and doesn’t even blink an eye…..and how often have you seen one fighter pull-down the other boxer’s trunks…..not to mention, an advertisement with Father Guido Saraduci….for this fight has all of that and much more….and have you ever noticed how the lightweights just throw tons of punches….it is always an action fight….and this one is that.  Both of these boxers have had long and hugely successful careers inside the ring as a boxer and inside the ring as a trainer….with Sweet Pea Whitaker being one of the vast array of legendary boxers during the golden age of boxing.

Roger Mayweather is a retired professional boxer….who won two major world titles in two different weight classes….fighting against many other boxing champions of the 1980’s and 1990’s….a goodly part of the golden age of boxing….who is a part of the Mayweather boxing family….with two brothers…. Floyd, a former welterweight contender and Jeff, a former IBO super featherweight champion….plus his nephew, Floyd “Money” Jr., a five-division world champion….whom Roger eventually became Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.’s trainer.

Roger was 64-4 as an amateur….making his pro boxing debut on July 29, 1981 against Andrew Ruiz….winning by 1st round TKO in round 1….and In his thirteenth fight beat Ruben Muñoz Jr. for the USBA lightweight title…..who earned a titleshot on January 19, 1983 against WBA super featherweight (130 lb) champion Samuel Serrano….as Serrano entered the bout with a record of 49-3-1 while having lost only once since first winning the title in 1976. Nonetheless, Mayweather led on all three judges’ scorecards before he beat Serrano by TKO in round 8 and effectively ended Serrano’s career….then made two successful title defenses (against Jorge Alvarado and Benedicto Villablanca)….but then his first loss came when he was knocked out in round 1 by future world champion Rocky Lockridge on February 22, 1984.  Mayweather won the USBA super featherweight title when he gave Kenny Baysmore his first loss by TKO in round 3. Thus, Mayweather earned the opportunity to fight against WBC Junior Lightweight champion and future legend Julio César Chávez on July 7, 1985. Although Mayweather won the first round on the judges’ scorecards, he was knocked down twice in round 2 and lost by TKO.

On November 28, 1986, Mayweather beat Sammy Fuentes for the WBC Continental Americas lightweight title. In his next bout, on March 28, 1987, as seen in this video fighting against Pernell Whitaker for the NABF lightweight title. Mayweather was knocked down in round 1….but he knocked down Whitaker in round 9.

Whitaker was a “southpaw” (left hand dominant) boxer, known for his outstanding defensive skills and for being a strong counter puncher. 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.  Known as Sweet Pea….Whitaker had an extensive amateur boxing career….having started at the age of nine….finishing his amateur career with 214 fights….while winning 201 with 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 other times, notably in the final of the Pan American Games 1983 in Caracas….as he crowned his amateur career with an Olympic Gold Medal in 1984 Los Angeles Games….where Bone Daddy got to see Sweet Pea work his magic in L A.

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, VA 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 of many boxing observer’s “worst ever boxing decisions” lists. 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 1990’s. In 1990….as he defended his lightweight title against future champion Freddie Pendleton and Super Featherweight Champion Azumah Nelson of Ghana. On August 11, 1990, he knocked out Juan Nazario in one round to win the vacant The Ring and WBA titles, becoming the first Undisputed Lightweight Champion since Roberto Durán. His highlight of 1991 was a win overJorge Páez and a fight against European 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…..then on March 6, 1993…. he won by decision over James (Buddy) McGirt to become the Lineal and WBC Welterweight Champion.  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….so the two met in a welterweight super fight simply named “The Fight” on September 10, 1993 in San Antonio, Texas. In the eyes of many of the spectators, Whitaker out-boxed 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 and believed that Whitaker had won 9 of the 12 rounds in the fight. 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.

Whitaker continued on to dominate for the next few years, defending his welterweight title in a rematch against McGirt on October 1, 1994. 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…..where he successfully defended 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….as Hurtado gave Whitaker all he could handle and then some….having the Whitaker down on all the judges scorecards going into the 11th round….as Hurtado scored flash knockdowns against Whitaker in rounds 1 and 6….then 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 and power….unleashing a barrage of left-handed power shots while pummeling Hurtado into the ropes…then 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. The win set up a showdown with undefeated 1992 Olympic gold medalist Oscar De La Hoya.

He met Oscar De La Hoya on April 12, 1997, in Las Vegas, Nevada….while 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 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 and connect percentage….by using the jab as his primary weapon….but De La Hoya threw and landed almost twice as many power punches…..having 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.….as most boxing people felt  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 wasn’t seen as a blatant robbery like the Ramirez or Chavez fights.

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.  On February 20, 1999, Whitaker suffered his first sound defeat against the much bigger, much fresher Félix Trinidad….taking the Puerto Rican the distance in an attempt to win Trinidad’s IBF welterweight title  

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.

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