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'BELT THE BODY'
Pat Putnam
February 27, 1989
Pernell Whitaker followed that sound advice and won a title from Greg Haugen
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February 27, 1989

'belt The Body'

Pernell Whitaker followed that sound advice and won a title from Greg Haugen

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The snow began falling in Virginia on Friday night. By Saturday morning a half foot lay on the ground, and at least that much more would fall before the snow turned to rain. Still, by the time Whitaker began Phase One of the Duva-Benton plan, more than 6,000 fans were in place, just what the promoter needed to break even. As it turned out, Phase One was all Whitaker needed. No toe dancing this time. He came out flat-footed and stayed that way, right in Haugen's face. He used jarring double and triple jabs to turn Haugen and to confuse him, then he ripped into Haugen's body, digging in hooks from both sides. The fight started badly for the champion, then got worse; he was never able to mount a counterattack.

With Whitaker in command, each round seemed a rerun of the last and a preview of the one to follow. The pattern was broken only in the sixth: Haugen threw a right hand, which Whitaker took on his right shoulder. Then Whitaker, a southpaw, fired a straight left hand to Haugen's head. It caught the champion flush, and as he started to fall forward his rear foot was snagged by Whitaker's leg. Haugen fell to his knees. Rising quickly from the first knockdown of his career, he shook his head in disgust as he listened to referee Al Rothenberg count off the mandatory eight. Haugen later said he had tripped.

Whitaker won every round, although one judge, Paul Gibbs of Washington, scored it only 118-109. Jim Traylor of Virginia and Mike Glienna of Illinois gave Whitaker a shutout, 120-107.

A few minutes after the fight, Haugen sat in his dressing room while a trainer held a cold Endswell iron under his swelling right eye. His face was a quilt of tiny cuts and bruises. "My timing was off," Haugen said in disgust. "He wasn't that much quicker. I couldn't get no punches off. I can't win if I don't punch. He's a real tough kid. He deserved to win. He kept throwing me off with the jab; I never could counter it. I knew what I had to do, I could see what I had to do; I just couldn't do it. I don't know if it was him or me. One punch. One freaking punch at a time. That's all I threw. Awful. Just awful. I'm a better fighter than that. They told me he was good. Now I know."

Whitaker said that for his first title defense, he would like to fight Ram�rez, who has since lost his WBC title to Julio C�sar Ch�vez. This time Whitaker won't run, and it won't be pretty.

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