Former 4 division world champion Pernell Whitaker was elected into the boxing hall of fame in 2006 and is considered to be one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. He fought all-time great boxers such as Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, and Felix Trinidad. Having been a world champion at welterweight, many fans wonder how Whitaker would match up against the greats of this generation in hypothetical fights.
In part 2 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio classics interview with Pernell Whitaker I talk to him about his decision to retire and about his transition to training fighters. Whitaker also discusses his amateur boxing career and talks about the 1984 Olympic team. Additionally, Pernell shares his thoughts on Manny Pacquiao and talks about how he would like fans to remember him. Here is what Pernell Whitaker had to say.
Jenna J: Pernell, you retired from professional boxing in 2001. Can you let the fans know what the reason was you retired when you did?
Pernell Whitaker: Well my shoulder jumped out of place for some reason and that was just a sign I think that came from above and said enough is enough. Like I said I had to stay out for a year after breaking my jaw against Trinidad so when I decided to come back and tune up after a year layoff and my shoulder went out then that was enough. That was it. I thought that was enough and I thought the time had come. I had no regrets on letting it go. I’m not chasing no glory or anything. I think I had done enough to solidify myself.
Jenna J: You have trained a few fighters since you retired. What was that transition like for you?
Pernell Whitaker: For me, I mean I’m not a fighter or a trainer, I’m a scientist. I know the science of boxing and I don’t have an opinion. I got facts!
Jenna J: How is it for you to be on the other side of things, being in the corner compared to being in the ring as a boxer?
Pernell Whitaker: I mean I haven’t really missed anything. It’s good to be on the other side and to see someone else go out there and present your style and add it to what it is with their own and be successful doing it. I’m not trying to do anything but help fighters to see. You know you can’t be Pernell Whitaker. There are no more Pernell Whitakers in our sport. I can only teach you the things that work for you and you only for your particular body. So you can forget me trying to teach you how to be like Pernell Whitaker because I don’t think I will be able to do that. You just got to be your own fighter and just believe and trust what I tell you.
Jenna J: What would it mean to you to train a fighter and lead him to win a championship?
Pernell Whitaker: Now that’s a good question! I’m looking forward to that because it would be my first time. I’ve been on the boxing side of being a champion, but now being on the other side and winning the world title is just like me being in there and winning the world title. We’ll win it all together. He’ll take the belt home. I’ll just take on the good money.
Jenna J: What are your thoughts on the current state of Olympic boxing and the struggles the USA has had in recent years?
Pernell Whitaker: Hey, it’s taking a lot out of boxing the way they score the amateur boxing now. I guess they do it to try and make it more competitive for other countries. I guess the United States and Cuba were more dominant than all of the other countries and winning all of the Gold Medals and they wanted to find ways for some of these other countries to win and that’s the format they came up with. Now I don’t even follow it. I couldn’t keep up with that computer system so there was no sense in me following it.
Jenna J: You had a great amateur career, what were your thoughts on that period of time for you?
Pernell Whitaker: Oh, that was my best! I think my amateur career was better than my whole professional career and everything else, because amateur boxing is all about having fun. It was just fun. You’d be with your teammates and you get to meet other people from different countries and you’re competing. It wasn’t business. It was just having fun and boxing.
Jenna J: The amateur class of 1984 was considered one of the greatest, what was it like to be around that great crop of talent?
Pernell Whitaker: All of those guys were just fun guys. They were fun to be around. They were just fun guys around other guys looking for fun. They would be eating and sleeping and laughing and joking together. You can’t make that up.
Jenna J: What do you think of the two biggest names of this boxing generation, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Junior?
Pernell Whitaker: Well I think I like Pacquiao the best out of all of them personally myself. He’s more consistent as a fighter fighting good in the ring competing. He’s the one that stands out. I don’t know about a whole lot of other fighters. If you try and bring up names to me I’d have no clue because I really haven’t been following.”
Jenna J: How do you think you would match up with a fighter like Manny Pacquiao?
Pernell Whitaker: Now you want me to go back talking and start sounding crazy? I have no clue. I haven’t watched him that much, but to me he is still a great fighter. If you’re asking me whether Pacquiao can beat me or not obviously I’m going to say no. I don’t think that they can beat Pernell Whitaker. There are no more Pernell Whitakers. Put it that way. That’s all it is.
Jenna J: How would you ultimately like to be remembered by the boxing fans?
Pernell Whitaker: I like the way remember me now, as one of the greatest fighters ever, as the best defensive fighter ever probably. I mean I would say that I’m the best defensive fighter ever. If you got somebody you know that’s better, please! I want to hear somebody tell me a name. Give me a name who could be better?
Jenna J: Any message you would like to pass along to all of your fans and supporters?
Pernell Whitaker: Thank you for all of the support you’ve given me throughout my 30 years. Thank you very much!