It Was Fifteen Years Ago Today - The "Draw!"

Julio Cesar Chavezby James Slater - Exactly fifteen years ago today, one of the most controversial fights in lower weight history took place inside The Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas. Well, the fight itself wasn't controversial, in that there were no unforgivable fouls, infringements or anything out of the ordinary like that - but the fight's official scoring offended many. The fight I'm talking about is the WBC welterweight bout the great Pernell Whitaker and the also great Julio Cesar Chavez put on on September 10th, 1993.

How bad was the drawn verdict the bout was given? Boxing Illustrated magazine were so incensed with the scoring of two of the three judges - judges who both agreed the fight should have been scored 115-115 - had a bold headline on their issue that followed the fight. "Do Not Buy This Magazine If You Think The Fight Was A Draw!" they bellowed. The magazine and its editors, like practically everyone else in the boxing world, felt very strongly that the boxing master class Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker put on against the hitherto unbeaten and invincible-looking Julio Cesar Chavez should easily have earned him a victory. Sports Illustrated went even further and a single world headlined their next issue - "ROBBED!" is all they said underneath a picture from the bout.

And the supremely gifted Whitaker left The Alamodome with a bad taste in his mouth to be sure, as the 87-0 Chavez was allowed to go home with an 87-0-1 record. At least Whitaker kept his WBC title. One judge, Jack Woodruff, scored the fight as a Whitaker victory at 115-113. He was out-voted by Mickey Vann and Franz Marti, however, who both scored a tie. Just how these two officials came to reach their scores caused much debate and there later circulated a story that British judge Vann had taken it upon himself to deduct a point from Whitaker due to a low blow, when referee Joe Cortez had not taken a point. This story appeared in a London newspaper, and Whitaker and his team lodged a protest.

However, this protest was later withdrawn when it was ruled that Whitaker had no legitimate complaint. Later on, Vann denied that he'd taken away a point from the defending WBC champion. Regardless of all this, was the undeniable fact that "Sweet Pea" had completely and utterly out-boxed the great "J.C Superstar." Even the loyal Mexican fans in attendance had been all but silenced by the majestic, almost flawless performance the 29-year-old former Olympic medallist put on against their hero. Chavez, quite simply, could not hit Whitaker, whereas "Sweet Pea" connected with his own fast punches again and again. Sure, Chavez pressed the action in coming forward, but he was made to suffer incredible frustration as he did so.

Afterwards, when raising his arms in expectance of being given a win courtesy of the soon-to-be announced verdict, Whitaker's body language altered dramatically as the result reverberated around the huge arena. Pernell could only hold his head in his hands and grin ruefully at what he'd just heard. For his part, Chavez, in a move that saw him lose some of his popularity in the eyes of many, refused to be gracious and accept that he'd lost. Indeed, when Frankie "The Surgeon" Randall followed in Whitaker's footsteps and made Chavez an official loser the following year, Chavez again refused to accept he'd been beaten. In yet another memorable headline, Boxing Illustrated declared how Chavez had gone from "Winner to Whiner!"

It's quite amazing that fifteen full years have gone by since the most infamous draw in boxing in the last 20 years or so (at least until the even more shocking Lewis-Holyfield draw in 1999). Fight fans still talk about the September 1993 fight, but in this case there isn't much debating going on. Unlike in some controversial fights (Leonard Hagler and Leonard-Hearns II, for example), the result makes for good bar side discussion and friendly argument. But not in the case of Whitaker Vs. Chavez.

Simply because NO-ONE puts forth the argument that anyone other than Pernell Whitaker won the fight! What should have been "Sweet Pea's" defining moment actually became a travesty.

Article posted on 10.09.2008

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