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Pat Putnam
August 28, 1989
Pernell Whitaker thrashed Jos� Luis Ram�rez
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August 28, 1989

In Your Face, Jos� Luis

Pernell Whitaker thrashed Jos� Luis Ram�rez

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In Whitaker's corner, in the middle rounds, Duva and Benton worried that their fighter would become frustrated. He was throwing his best stuff, yet Ram�rez was unmarked and seemed unhurt, though his charges had been slowed. "Forget about a knockout," they chorused to Whitaker. "He's got an iron chin. What you are doing is better than a knockout. You're beautiful. Keep the same tempo. Don't change the tempo."

Only in the last round, the 12th, did Whitaker change his approach. There's a performer buried deep inside his fighter's body. "I knew I had the fight won," he said of his 19th victory in 20 professional fights. "And I am an entertainer. I knew the fans would like to see a little show."

Before he went out for the final round, Duva told him, "Don't take any chances with this guy. Keep moving and keep working that jab. Remember, no crazy chances." Whitaker laughed and planted a kiss on the grizzled Duva's cheek. "Don't worry, baby," he said. "Don't worry."

Duva immediately began to worry. "Cut that crap out," he screamed a moment later, his right fist slamming into the ring apron, as Whitaker began his 12th-round performance. In the ring, Whitaker had taken a flat-footed stance in front of Ram�rez, who was firing punches in desperation. With a slight smile creasing his face, Whitaker casually ducked and slipped everything Ram�rez could throw at him. At one point he sat on a lower strand of the ropes; Ram�rez still could not hit him. Tiring of that, Whitaker arose and strolled away from his frustrated challenger, contemptuously turning his back on his beaten opponent.

Obviously annoyed by the champion's antics, judge Syd Nathan gave the last round to Ram�rez, but he gave the fight to Whitaker 117-111. In the opinion of judges Larry O'Connell and Miguel Donate, Whitaker did not lose a round. O'Connell, who scored the last round even, had the fight 120-109. Donate gave the champion a clean slate, 120-108.

Later, someone asked Whitaker what he would have done if the judges had repeated the Paris robbery. "They never would have got out of the building," he said, laughing. "They [his hometown fans] would have locked the doors. Those other guys got away from me in Paris. This time I would have found them."

For much of the week before the fight, there was concern that Whitaker and Ram�rez might be fighting for nothing more than the lightweight championship of the state of Virginia. At different points during the week both the IBF and the WBC said that they would not sanction the fight. For the most part, the two organizations were squabbling over who would name the officials for the fight, the sanctioning bodies or the Virginia Athletic Commission. And there were a few more trivial debates—like which of the two organizations' logos the referee would wear on his shirt (as it turned out, the ref, Chris Wollesen, a Virginian, wore neither).

"For about a day and a half," said Doug Beavers, the no-nonsense Virginia boxing boss, "I actually thought about having three sets of officials. I was going to let the IBF name three judges to determine the IBF championship, and I was going to let the WBC name three judges to determine the WBC championship. And I was going to name three Virginia judges to determine the winner. The whole thing was getting to a point of silliness."

At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, four days before the fight, Beavers and Bill Brennan, the IBF representative, convinced IBF president Bob Lee to sanction the fight. The announcement of the decision was made at noon. Thirty minutes later Beavers got a call from Bob Lee Jr., his father's top assistant.

"Dad changed his mind," said Lee Jr.

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