Some fans say it was the worst robbery in boxing history. Others say we have seen worse, but not, thankfully, too much. It was today in San Antonio, Texas, inside a crammed full Alamodome, that welterweight greats Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez (Chavez’ greatness really coming two divisions lower than 147) boxed THE most controversial draw of recent memory (aside from the heavyweight debacle between Lewis and Holyfield).
“Robbery,” screamed the headline on the cover of Sports Illustrated that month in 1993. “Do Not Buy This Magazine If You Think The Fight Was A Draw,” the headline on the cover of the excellent and much missed Boxing Illustrated demanded. Indeed, Chavez did not get too much support from anyone, anywhere when it came to the decision that saw him hang on to his astonishing unbeaten record – Julio now holding an 87-0-1 ledger.
Around 90 percent or more of those fans who watched the fight felt strongly Chavez had been beaten for the very first time. The scores were as follows, however: 115-115 twice, and 115-113 for Whitaker. “Sweet Pea” retained his world title and he was now 32-1-1, yet he had been denied victory in the biggest, most defining fight of his entire career.
There would be no rematch.
Chavez, at the time a seemingly unbeatable, unstoppable force of a Mexican fighting machine who had beaten excellent fighters such as Meldrick Taylor (Pernell’s buddy and former Olympic team-mate), Roger Mayweather, Edwin Rosario, Jose Luis Ramirez and Hector Camacho, was expected by many to run right through Whitaker, to prove too strong and aggressive for him; perhaps even give him a beating similar to the one “J.C Superstar” had administered to Taylor in that incredible yet also controversial super-fight from three years earlier.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, slicker than slick southpaw Whitaker gave Chavez absolute fits. Unable to ever hit his man with any more than one shot at a time, and this poor level of success only coming every once in a while during the bout, Chavez was Frustrated with a capital F!
Not everyone liked Whitaker’s approach, his dipping at the knees and presenting Chavez with a head target that was at his belt-line annoying some, yet there could be no denying Whitaker’s defensive genius, his brilliant timing and his swift punching. Chavez may have edged, just, around two or three rounds, maybe even four, but he was the beaten man, no doubt about it.
As fans know, Pernell left us way too young, at age 55, just under two months ago. All these years after the Chavez fight, and his trainer Ronnie Shields says the world saw Whitaker at his very best that night 26 years ago.
For despite what the three judges said, Whitaker had proven he was the very best fighter on the planet.