The Sweetest Pea: Boxing mourns defensive genius Pernell Whitaker

Pernell Whitaker Oscar De La Hoya


The sudden death of Pernell Whitaker has hit boxing hard following the untimely passing of the four-weight champion on Sunday night.

‘Sweet Pea’ was fatally struck by a vehicle in Virginia Beach and sadly is no more at the tender age of 55.

Tributes have come from far and wide for one of the greatest defensive fighters of all time.

Whitaker’s skill was legendary and took him to the pinnacle of the sport following an Olympic gold in 1984.

Leading the way was former opponent Oscar De La Hoya.

“It was an honor to share the ring with him. In terms of his defense and ring generalship, Pernell Whitaker was the best fighter that I ever fought.

“On behalf of everyone at Golden Boy, we send our prayers and condolences to his family and friends.”

De La Hoya’s company, Golden Boy released their own statement.

Golden Boy is saddened by the death of one the greatest fighters to ever lace a pair of gloves, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker. The legendary boxer passed away late Sunday night at the age of 55.

The native of Norfolk, Va. was one of the best defensive fighters of all time.

He began his journey in the sport with a tremendous amateur career. He completed it by capturing a Gold medal in the 1984 Olympic Games.

Whitaker represented the United States as part of an all-star team that included Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, Meldrick “The Kid” Taylor, Mark Breland and other great fighters.

Whitaker then began a historic professional career where he captured world titles in the lightweight, super lightweight, welterweight and super welterweight divisions.

In his journey to becoming a four-division world champion, Whitaker faced the likes of Jose Luis “El Zurdo” Ramirez, Azumah “The Professor” Nelson, Julio Cesar Chavez, James “Buddy” McGirt, Felix “Tito” Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya.

Whitaker completed his career in 2001. In 2006, he joined the International Boxing Hall of Fame. The legacy of this great fighter will not be forgotten.


Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and ’84 Olympic team-mate Evander Holyfield added their condolences.

“I’m truly lost for words to hear Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker is no longer with us. He was a flawless fighter. Condolences to his family,” said Tyson.

“Rest in Love King! – Pernell Whitaker 1964-2019,” stated Lewis.

A heartbroken Holyfield said: “I am saddened to learn of my good friend and Olympic teammate Pernell Whitaker’s untimely passing last night.

“We share so many great memories. He was small in stature, but yet so big in heart and skills inside the ring, there will never be another like him, he will truly be missed.”


“Pernell Whitaker was beautiful — both as a fighter and as a human being.  An artist in the ring, “Sweet Pea” appeared on our World Championship Boxing platform for a decade (1990-1999), giving fans many unforgettable moments.

“His is a Hall of Fame legacy, which we are forever grateful to call our own heritage. Pernell’s passing is a great loss. We send our condolences to his family. As well as his extended family at Main Events and throughout the boxing community.” – HBO Sports