Pernell Whitaker, his Magnificent Obsession

“It doesn’t matter who I fight,” he announced in 1994, with an imperial air, “You could have a 900 number and take a poll. Let the people decide.”



Our July issue of CAESTUS (subscribe here) went out this week, and here is just a taste of what you missed.

Here is an excerpt from THE HIT PARADE column by Carlos Acevedo on Hall of Fame legend Pernell Whitaker, who died on July 14:

A pure boxer, Whitaker should not be confused with the spoilers of today who are mistakenly referred to as technicians. Bear hugs, armbars, and headlocks were not essential to his success. At his best, Whitaker used a ruthless finesse, largely improvisational, to make even world-class pros look listless, arthritic. Nor was he much of a runner after his lightweight reign. Most of the time, Whitaker stood in front of his opponent, made him miss with head movement or nifty footwork, and countered with pinpoint shots with either hand. “I’m not a knockout fighter,” he once said. “I’m a performer. I’m here to have fun in the ring. Not everybody can do that.”

As a defensive fighter, few could compare to Whitaker; as a fighting man, perhaps even fewer. That may sound surprising given how Whitaker approached most of his fights as a virtuoso. “Being an artist in the ring is most important,” Whitaker told KO in 1990. “When I get in there, I want it to be art. I work so hard in the gym, and the gym is where the real fight is. I got four and five guys to box. I spar with a guy, get tired, and then I got a fresh man to come. That’s tough. The easy part is in the ring on fight night. I’m a hyper guy. I get the music going, I get to dancing in the dressing room. I get everybody fired up. Because it’s time to party. I did all that work in the gym, and I’m ready to show what I got, to be an artist.”

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