Last Friday night, says Duva, a number of WBC officials approached him with strange expressions of condolence. "They said to me, 'What arc you complaining about? This is the perfect result. Everyone wins,' " says Duva. "That's just sickening. On the day of the fight everyone who knows me knows that I had one fear: that Pernell would get robbed. That these people, for their own political interest, would deny him his victory."
In the end, of course, it is the fighters who suffer the most. The Chávez record now bears a tainted gift that is far worse than any defeat. No one in the spoil has lived a more definitive life between the ropes than Chávez—it is all there, in black and white, in black and blue—and now there is this nettlesome ambiguity, this grayness that will never go away. Better that he should have lost and gone on. So the events of last Friday night were as unfair to him, and all he has meant to the sport, as they were to Whitaker.
"I feel a little bit beat up," Chávez said quietly, laughing, the morning after the fight and a night of partying. "It was a difficult fight. Unfortunately, I couldn't do anything better. I still think that I forced the fight, I kept going forward. There was something I kept doing wrong...." It was nothing more than meeting the first man in his life that he could not handle.
That man was left treading the same murky waters. Whitaker knew he had won, but the record books will say he didn't. He was left talking to the world beyond the balcony, as though trying to convince himself of something of which he was sure yet not quite sure. "Deep down I know I won it," Sweet Pea said. "Deep down you know it. Deep down...."
Just where those judges left it.