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De La Hoya takes on Pernell Whitaker

1995 Bowe-Golota I Ended With Mayhem

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De La Hoya takes on Pernell Whitaker

Melina Pizano/Matchroom Boxing USA

De La Hoya takes on Pernell Whitaker

On April 12, 1997, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NevadaOscar De La Hoya took on one of the all-time greats in Pernell Whitaker for the WBC welterweight title.

The fight for Whitaker would be his 9th title defense of the WBC title he had won since winning it from James “Buddy” McGirt back in 1993.  For De La Hoya, this was him making the weight class jump from lightweight and was going to be his debut at 147.

This debut for the younger De La Hoya ( who was 24,  as Whitaker was 33), however, made him going into the bout a definite 3 to 1 favorite for the contest that took place on pay-per-view courtesy of TVKO (later known as HBO PPV).

In the third round of the fight, De La Hoya suffered a cut under his right eye from an accidental headbutt. As a result, Whitaker had a point deducted. WBC rules at the time stated: “When a boxer suffers a cut, abrasion, or excessive swelling due to an unintentional/accidental head butt…A point will be deducted from the uninjured boxer. This point deduction will compensate the advantages acquired by the uninjured boxer.”

Such a ridiculous rule in a fight that the point would’ve been in to play.

The case was made more valid in the ninth round when De La Hoya suffered a knockdown when he was caught by a left which had De La Hoya’s right gloved hit the canvas. At the end of the contest, it looked like Whitaker had done enough to win. Whitaker landed 232 of 582 punches to 191 of 556 for De La Hoya. Of Whitaker’s punches that connected, 160 were jabs to 45 for De La Hoya.

Then the scorecards came out.

All three judges came out and gave the bout 115-111 and 116-110 twice in favor of De La Hoya to crown him the new champion at welterweight. Needless to say, Whitaker, after the fight, felt more robbed in this contest than the fight he had against Julio Cesar Chavez back in 1992, which was ruled a draw.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to let the fans start judging fights,” Whitaker said to the Associated Press after the fight.

The decision was pretty split to those at the time at ringside the fight could’ve gone either way. This contest for Whitaker would be the last one holding a belt as drug problems and injuries forced him to retire in 2001.  Whitaker would be named a Hall of Famer in his 1st year of eligibility in 2006 before passing away from a car accident in 2019.

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Marquis Johns is a unknown humorist and avid boxing fan. His love for the sweet science goes back to when matches were 15 rounds and has been covering fights since closed-circuit pay-per-views. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth is not only a quote by Mike Tyson, it's also a pretty good reminder to keep your guard up.

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