29 years ago Sunday “Sweet Pea” Whitaker got it done again
He was one of the great fighters of the lightweight and welterweight divisions in the 1980s and 90s. And almost 30 years ago Sunday, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker continued on his roll with another impressive win.
When he stepped through the ropes in Las Vegas on May 19, 1990, Whitaker made the latest defense of his WBC lightweight championship with a 12-round domination of Azumah Nelson.
Whitaker was a former US Olympic gold medalist from the 1984 Los Angeles games and rose to prominence as a pro before losing to Jose Louis Ramirez in his first title fight in March of 1988. He regrouped 11 months later and won the WBC lightweight Championship defeating Greg Haugen by decision.
Nelson was an amateur star from Ghana, who turned professional and rolled off 13 straight wins before legendary lightweight champion Salvador Sanchez stopped him in July, 1982. However, from that night until the night that he got in the ring with Whitaker, Nelson had won 19 fights in row, including World Featherweight and Super Featherweight titles.
By the time he got in the ring with Nelson, it was Whitaker’s fifth title defense.
Whitaker did nothing to disappoint with his southpaw right jab and his straight left hand behind it. Plus, his elusiveness Nelson could not figure him out for 45 minutes of boxing.
Whitaker’s roll would continue has he moved up to Junior Welterweight, and eventually Welterweight, winning world titles in both and accumulating a record of 40-1-1 with another 17 title defenses before he was finally beaten by Oscar De La Hoya in a World welterweight unification fight in April of 1997.
Whitaker would fight only three more times, including a 12 round loss to Felix Trinidad, and ended up with a career record of 40-4-1. His storied career included the legendary Ring Magazine naming him the best “pound for pound” fighter in the world each year from 1993-97.
His decorated career finished with World Titles in three different weight divisions and Whitaker was eventually inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.
And almost 30 years ago, he notched another big win against a quality opponent.