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Pernell Whitaker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pernell Whitaker
Nickname(s)Sweet Pea
Height5 ft 6 in (168 cm)
Reach69 in (175 cm)
Born (1964-01-02) January 2, 1964 (age 54)
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Boxing record
Total fights46
Wins by KO17
No contests1

Pernell Whitaker (born January 2, 1964) is an American former professional boxer who competed from 1984 to 2001, and has since worked as a boxing trainer. He is a four-weight world champion, having won titles at lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, and light middleweight; the undisputed lightweight title; and the lineal lightweight and welterweight titles.[1] In 1989, Whitaker was named Fighter of the Year by The Ring magazine and the Boxing Writers Association of America. From 1993 to 1997, The Ring ranked him as the best active boxer in the world, pound for pound. He currently holds the longest unified lightweight championship reign in boxing history at 6 title defenses.

As an amateur, Whitaker won a silver medal in the lightweight division at the 1982 World Championships, followed by gold at the 1983 Pan American Games and 1984 Olympics. After his retirement in 2001, Whitaker returned to the sport as a trainer. In 2002, The Ring ranked him tenth in their list of "The 100 Greatest Fighters of the Last 80 Years". In 2006, Whitaker was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Oscar De La Hoya vs Pernell Whitaker 12.4.1997 - WBC World Welterweight Championship
  • Pernell Whitaker - The Defensive Master
  • Oscar De La Hoya vs Pernell Whitaker 12-04-1997



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 other 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 defeated 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 of many boxing observers' lists of the worst decisions in boxing history.[2][3][4]

Undisputed lightweight 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 & The Ring belts 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 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 WBA and vacant lineal lightweight titles,[5] becoming the first Undisputed Lightweight Champion since Roberto Durán. His highlight of 1991 was a win over Jorge Páez and a fight against European Champion Poli Díaz that ended in another win.

IBF light welterweight champion

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

WBC and lineal welterweight champion

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

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"[7] 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[8] and believed that Whitaker had won 9 of the 12 rounds in the fight.[9] 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.[10]

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

WBA super welterweight champion

In his next fight on March 4, 1995, Whitaker added Julio César Vásquez's WBA super welterweight title to his collection. Although Whitaker suffered a "flash" knockdown early on in the fight, he basically faced no real trouble against Vásquez in route to the win. This was a history making fight for Whitaker, as he became only the fourth fighter in history - joining Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Roberto Duran - to have won a legitimate world title in four different weight classes. However, he chose to move back to welterweight.[11]

Return to welterweight

Whitaker 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. 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.[12][13] 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 boxer in the world, 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 and 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.[14] 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.[15][16][17]

For his part, De La Hoya wasn't too pleased with his own performance against Whitaker and had hinted at a possible rematch to prove that he could do better against him. But Bob Arum, De La Hoya's promoter at that time, decided against it. [18][19][20]

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.[21][22] Whitaker was suspended for six months, but the commission lifted the suspension after he agreed to random testing and his title bout with Quartey was to proceed as scheduled, however, the bout was cancelled after Whitaker tested positive for a second time.[23]

Whitaker vs. Trinidad

On February 20, 1999, Whitaker suffered his first convincing 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.[24] 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.[24] In the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds the fighters exchanged combinations.[24] Later in the fight, both boxers fell to the canvas in what were ruled as "accidental slips."[24] 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.[24] 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.[24]

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.

Boxing style

A southpaw, Whitaker was known for his outstanding defensive skills and for being a strong counterpuncher. He was not a particularly hard puncher or knockout artist, but applied a consistent offense while being extremely elusive and difficult for his opponents to hit with a solid punch.


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.

Career as a trainer

As of December 2005, Whitaker became a 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 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. He trained young prospect Joel Julio.

Pernell Whitaker was also the trainer for heavyweight Calvin Brock who, as recently as November 2006, fought for the IBF and IBO titles against Wladimir Klitschko, where Brock was knocked out in the 7th round.

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

Whitaker also became the head trainer of former undisputed welterweight champion Zab Judah,[25] who defeated Kaizer Mabuza in March 2011 to win the vacant IBF welterweight title.

Personal life

Pernell married Rovanda Anthony on December 21, 1985 in the boxing ring at the Virginia Beach Pavilion Convention Center.[26] The couple later divorced. They had four children together: Dominique, the late Pernell Jr., Dantavious, and Devon. Whitaker also had a daughter, Tiara, from a prior relationship.

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.[27]

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 keep the house afloat financially. Pernell's lawyers said that he is 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 in order to prevent the property from being seized and put into foreclosure. Outside of the Virginia courtroom where the eviction proceedings took place, Whitaker called the ruling in his favor "a beautiful moment."[28]

Professional boxing record

Professional record summary
46 fights 40 wins 4 losses
By knockout 17 1
By decision 23 3
Draws 1
No contests 1
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
46 Loss 40–4–1 (1) Mexico Carlos Bojorquez TKO 4 (10), 0:27 Apr 27, 2001 United States Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S.
45 Loss 40–3–1 (1) Puerto Rico Félix Trinidad UD 12 Feb 20, 1999 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. For IBF welterweight title
44 NC 40–2–1 (1) Russia Andrey Pestryaev UD 12 Oct 17, 1997 United States Foxwoods Resort Casino, Ledyard, Connecticut, U.S. Originally a UD win for Whitaker, later ruled an NC after he failed a drug test
43 Loss 40–2–1 United States Oscar De La Hoya UD 12 Apr 12, 1997 United States Thomas & Mack Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Lost WBC and lineal welterweight titles
42 Win 40–1–1 Cuba Diosbelys Hurtado TKO 11 (12), 1:52 Jan 24, 1997 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained WBC and lineal welterweight titles
41 Win 39–1–1 Puerto Rico Wilfredo Rivera UD 12 Sep 20, 1996 United States James L. Knight Center, Miami, Florida, U.S. Retained WBC and lineal welterweight titles
40 Win 38–1–1 Puerto Rico Wilfredo Rivera SD 12 Apr 12, 1996 Netherlands Antilles Atlantis World Casino, Sint Maarten, Netherlands Antilles Retained WBC and lineal welterweight titles
39 Win 37–1–1 Puerto Rico Jake Rodríguez KO 6 (12), 2:54 Nov 18, 1995 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained WBC and lineal welterweight titles
38 Win 36–1–1 United Kingdom Gary Jacobs UD 12 Aug 26, 1995 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained WBC and lineal welterweight titles
37 Win 35–1–1 Argentina Julio César Vásquez UD 12 Mar 4, 1995 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Won WBA super welterweight title
36 Win 34–1–1 United States James McGirt UD 12 Oct 1, 1994 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. Retained WBC and lineal welterweight titles
35 Win 33–1–1 Puerto Rico Santos Cardona UD 12 Apr 9, 1994 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. Retained WBC and lineal welterweight titles
34 Draw 32–1–1 Mexico Julio César Chávez MD 12 Sep 10, 1993 United States Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas, U.S. Retained WBC and lineal welterweight titles
33 Win 32–1 United States James McGirt UD 12 Mar 6, 1993 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Won WBC and lineal welterweight titles
32 Win 31–1 United States Ben Baez KO 1 (10), 0:37 Dec 1, 1992 United States Convention Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
31 Win 30–1 Colombia Rafael Pineda UD 12 Jul 18, 1992 United States The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Won IBF junior welterweight title
30 Win 29–1 United States Jerry Smith KO 1 (10) May 22, 1992 Mexico El Toreo de Cuatro Caminos, Mexico City, Mexico
29 Win 28–1 United States Harold Brazier UD 10 Jan 18, 1992 United States Pennsylvania Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
28 Win 27–1 Mexico Jorge Páez UD 12 Oct 5, 1991 United States Convention Center, Reno, Nevada, U.S. Retained WBA, WBC, IBF, and lineal lightweight titles
27 Win 26–1 Spain Poli Díaz UD 12 Jul 27, 1991 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. Retained WBA, WBC, IBF, and lineal lightweight titles
26 Win 25–1 United States Anthony Jones UD 12 Feb 23, 1991 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Retained WBA, WBC, IBF, and lineal lightweight titles
25 Win 24–1 United States Benjie Marquez UD 10 Nov 22, 1990 Spain Palacio de Deportes de la Comunidad, Madrid, Spain
24 Win 23–1 Puerto Rico Juan Nazario KO 1 (12), 2:59 Aug 11, 1990 United States Caesars Tahoe, Stateline, Nevada, U.S. Retained WBC and IBF lightweight titles;
Won WBA and vacant lineal lightweight titles
23 Win 22–1 Ghana Azumah Nelson UD 12 May 19, 1990 United States Caesars Palace, Paradise, Nevada, U.S. Retained WBC and IBF lightweight titles
22 Win 21–1 United States Freddie Pendleton UD 12 Feb 3, 1990 United States Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S. Retained WBC and IBF lightweight titles
21 Win 20–1 Mexico Martin Galvan TKO 3 Dec 11, 1989 France Les Pyramides, Le Port-Marly, France
20 Win 19–1 Mexico José Luis Ramírez UD 12 Aug 20, 1989 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. Retained IBF lightweight title;
Won vacant WBC and The Ring lightweight titles
19 Win 18–1 Mexico Louie Lomeli TKO 3 (12), 2:37 Apr 30, 1989 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. Retained IBF lightweight title
18 Win 17–1 United States Greg Haugen UD 12 Feb 18, 1989 United States Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia, U.S. Won IBF lightweight title
17 Win 16–1 United States Antonio Carter TKO 4 (10), 2:37 Nov 2, 1988 United States Convention Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
16 Loss 15–1 Mexico Jose Luis Ramirez SD 12 Mar 12, 1988 France Stade de Levallois, Levallois-Perret, France For WBC lightweight title
15 Win 15–0 United States Davey Montana TKO 4 (10), 2:14 Dec 19, 1987 France Paris, France
14 Win 14–0 Puerto Rico Miguel Santana TKO 6 (12), 1:02 Jul 25, 1987 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. Retained NABF lightweight title;
Won vacant USBA lightweight title
13 Win 13–0 United States Jim Flores TKO 1 (10) Jun 28, 1987 United States Las Americas Arena, Houston, Texas, U.S.
12 Win 12–0 United States Roger Mayweather UD 12 Mar 28, 1987 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S. Won vacant NABF lightweight title
11 Win 11–0 Panama Alfredo Layne UD 10 Dec 20, 1986 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
10 Win 10–0 Mexico Rafael Gandarilla UD 10 Oct 9, 1986 United States Felt Forum, New York City, New York, U.S.
9 Win 9–0 Panama Rafael Williams UD 10 Aug 16, 1986 United States Sands, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
8 Win 8–0 United States John Montes UD 10 Mar 9, 1986 United States Coliseum, Hampton, Virginia, U.S.
7 Win 7–0 United States Jesus De la Cruz TKO 1 (8), 2:22 Nov 12, 1985 United States Country Connection, Pasadena, Texas, U.S.
6 Win 6–0 United States Teddy Hatfield KO 3 (8), 2:42 Aug 29, 1985 United States Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
5 Win 5–0 United States John Senegal TKO 2 (8), 1:29 Jul 20, 1985 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
4 Win 4–0 United States Nick Parker UD 6 Apr 20, 1985 United States Memorial Coliseum, Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
3 Win 3–0 United States Mike Golden TKO 4 (6), 2:54 Mar 13, 1985 United States Scope, Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
2 Win 2–0 United States Danny Avery TKO 4 (6) Jan 20, 1985 United States Broadway by the Bay Theater, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.
1 Win 1–0 United States Farrain Comeaux TKO 2 (6), 2:50 Nov 15, 1984 United States Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S. Professional debut

See also


  1. ^ "The Lineal Boxing World Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  2. ^ Ranking the 15 Worst Judging Decisions in Boxing History
  3. ^ 5 More Of the Worst Decisions in Boxing
  4. ^ The List: The 10 Worst Decisions in Boxing History
  5. ^ "The Lineal Lightweight Champions". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  6. ^ "The Lineal Welterweight Champs". The Cyber Boxing Zone Encyclopedia.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Robbed": Whitaker-Chavez bout, September 1993 Cover - Sports Illustrated 
  9. ^ The Whitaker-Chavez fight, September 1993 Article - Sports Illustrated "Beaten To The Draw"
  10. ^ [1] Boxing Illustrated: Chavez-Whitaker cover
  11. ^ | Whitaker vs. Vasquez
  12. ^ Whitaker, Knocked Down, Comes Back to Knock Out Challenger
  13. ^ Whitaker vs Hurtado
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ A Look Back At Whitaker v De La Hoya, And A Bitter End To "Sweet Pea's" Time At The Top Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ De La Hoya Proves He Can Win Ugly
  18. ^ "Oscar Time". CNN. 1997-04-21. Archived from the original on 2013-10-29.
  19. ^ [
  20. ^ De La Hoya Camp Says No Rematch Fighting Whitaker Again Would Not Be "good Business," The Boxer's Promoter Claims.]
  21. ^
  22. ^ Ex-champ Whitaker Could Face 6-month Suspension For Drugs
  23. ^
  24. ^ 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.
  25. ^ Velin, Bob (March 4, 2011). "Zab Judah continues his personal road to redemption". USA Today. Retrieved March 6, 2011.
  26. ^ "Sports Shorts". Associated Press. December 6, 1985. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  27. ^ Wallechinsky, David (2012). The Book of Olympic Lists. London: Aurum Press Ltd. p. 233. ISBN 9781845137731.
  28. ^ Fields, Liz (February 27, 2014). "Ex-Millionaire Boxer 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker Says Evicting Mom Is 'Beautiful Moment'". ABC News. Retrieved November 11, 2015.

External links

Sporting positions
Amateur boxing titles
Joe Manley
U.S. lightweight champion
Clifford Gray
Regional boxing titles
Title last held by
Greg Haugen
NABF lightweight champion
March 28, 1987 – October 1987
Title next held by
Primo Ramos
Title last held by
Terrence Alli
USBA lightweight champion
July 25, 1987 – September 1987
Title next held by
Freddie Pendleton
World boxing titles
Preceded by
Greg Haugen
IBF lightweight champion
February 18, 1989 – January 1992
Title next held by
Freddie Pendleton
Title last held by
Julio César Chávez
WBC lightweight champion
August 20, 1989 – January 1992
Title next held by
Miguel Ángel González
The Ring lightweight champion
August 20, 1989
Title discontinued until 2002
Title next held by
Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Lineal lightweight champion
August 11, 1990 – January 1992
Preceded by
Juan Nazario
WBA lightweight champion
August 11, 1990 – January 1992
Title next held by
Joey Gamache
Title last held by
Roberto Durán
Undisputed lightweight champion
August 11, 1990 – January 1992
Preceded by
Rafael Pineda
IBF junior welterweight champion
July 18, 1992 – December 1992
Title next held 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 super welterweight champion
March 4, 1995 – June 1995
Title next held by
Carl Daniels
Julio César Chávez
The Ring Pound for Pound #1 boxer
September 10, 1993 – April 12, 1997
Roy Jones Jr.
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