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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

Pound For Pound


By Fred Wallace

 Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire. "


Retired boxer Pernell " Sweet Pea " Whitaker died last week, struck by a car in Virginia Beach at age 55.

It's funny how events in your life can intersect

On Saturday April 12, 1997, I was the host for the Sunday Mourning Hockey League Playoff Hockey Pool.

While being a good host, and trust me it was a memorable night, I also was highly interested in a boxing match that same night, and so for the first and only time in my life, I ordered " Pay Per View " to watch Oscar De La Hoya meet Pernell " Sweet Pea " Whitaker.

Naturally, the Pay Per View feed didn't function properly in the beginning- ever try to talk to a Rogers employee on the phone with a dozen SMHLPA guys screaming in the background ?

Eventually the picture was restored and using my trusty VCR, I recorded Sweet Pea & De La Hoya in order to watch it the next day.

Here's what made the boxing match so intriguing....

Whitaker was among the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport from 1989 onwards.

De La Hoya was 23 & 0 and also was considered the best " pound for pound " in many circles.

The next day on tape, I watched De La Hoya win the bout by unanimous decision

Personally, I felt Whitaker won the fight as he outpunched De La Hoya, he never got tagged by De La Hoya- Whitaker was a master at slipping punches, & Whitaker scored a knockdown in the 9th

Afterwards, both fighters felt a rematch was in order, but De La Hoya's promoter, Bob Arum, claimed a rematch wouldn't be good business.

It certainly wasn't good for Whitaker who later failed drug tests with cocaine in his system, went to rehab and even though he returned to the ring later, he was never quite the same, never quite as good.

But on April 12, 1997 there was very little difference between Oscar De La Hoya & Sweet Pea Whitaker in a pound for pound matchup that has been rarely matched in the last 2 decades.


I'm Fred Wallace


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