Boxing legend Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker dies after being struck by vehicle

By Sports Desk July 15, 2019

Four-weight boxing world champion Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker died on Sunday after he was struck by a vehicle in Virginia Beach.

The Virginia Beach Police Department confirmed on Monday that the 55-year-old had succumbed to his injuries at the scene after emergency services received a call at 10:04pm (local time) on Sunday to an accident at the intersection of Northampton Boulevard and Baker Road. 

Whitaker was a world champion in the lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight, and light middleweight divisions. He won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in the lightweight division.

His career spanned 1984 to 2001 and he faced the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Greg Haugen, Jose Luis Ramirez and Julio Cesar Chavez.

When Whitaker retired in 2001, he had a 40-4-1 record as a professional, with one no contest and 17 knockouts.

Regarded as one of the best defensive fighters of all time, Whitaker was inducted in to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006, his first year of eligibility.

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    Eddie Hearn believes the money offered to host a fight in Saudi Arabia between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury or Deontay Wilder will be too good to turn down.

    Joshua regained his WBA, IBF and WBO belts from Andy Ruiz Jr in December in a heavyweight rematch contested in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.

    While Joshua's next fight is set to be against Kubrat Pulev, the Briton's promoter Hearn has talked up the possibility of a meeting with the victor of Fury-Wilder II, which takes place in Las Vegas on February 22, later in 2020.

    On Wednesday, Fury's promoter Frank Warren dismissed Joshua's claims that talks between his camp and Wilder's had already taken place, though he claimed a fight between his client and Joshua should be held towards the end of the year.

    Now, Hearn has suggested Saudi Arabia would again prove to be a viable venue for such a fight, claiming the money on offer would ensure a bout would happen.

    "You have new players in town that are willing to spend money never seen before in this sport. It's there, we've had the conversations," Hearn told Sky Sports.

    "We did it once, in December. I know the money that they're willing to put in for this fight at the back end of the year and it's why I'm so confident of making it, because there's just too much money.

    "There comes a time in the sport where money talks too much and, when it does, there's no going back. Even if the other guys didn't want it, they can't ignore the numbers.

    "Everybody's lucky that the numbers we were talking about a year ago, they've doubled, trebled. Don't agree? You've spun it up on that roulette wheel, now take your chips and leave."

    Hearn also suggested Joshua – who could also face Oleksandr Usyk – would be willing to scrap his planned fight with Pulev should the Bulgarian not agree to a venue in Britain.

    "AJ's going to call the shots here and he may end up having to let the Pulev fight go if he won't fight in the places we'd like him to fight and that is in the UK," Hearn said.

    "We're looking at dates around the end of May, beginning of June for the Pulev fight. Everywhere's in play – Emirates Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the London Stadium.

    "We've also reached out to Twickenham as well and the Millennium Stadium have got some dates for us. In an ideal world, AJ's next fight will be against Pulev in London."

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    Joshua regained the WBA, IBF and WBO belts from Andy Ruiz Jr in December, while Fury is set to meet WBC champion Wilder in a rematch on February 22.

    Brit Joshua has recently suggested his camp has held discussions with Wilder's management over a potential meeting this year, which would come instead of a possible third bout between the American and Fury.

    Warren, though, is adamant no talks have been held.

    "I spoke to [Wilder's co-manager] Shelly Finkel [on Tuesday] and he denied it," Warren told ESPN.

    "There's a rematch clause in the contract and the loser has the right to invoke that not long after the fight.

    "That will determine what happens, not what [promoter] Eddie Hearn or Joshua says.

    "It seems every time they mention these discussions they never think about the possibility of Tyson winning the fight with Wilder."

    Joshua is reportedly set to face Kubrat Pulev, who is the IBF mandatory challenger, while a bout between the Briton and Oleksandr Usyk has been also been mooted.

    But Warren is hopeful of bringing Joshua and Fury together for an-all British encounter, though he cited the "ego" of Hearn as a potential stumbling block.

    "I would like to see Tyson in with Joshua straight away after February 22," Warren said.

    "I don't think it's a difficult negotiation – we have just seen that with two networks in the United States agreeing to work with each other for Wilder-Fury II. The only thing that stops it is all of the ego with Eddie Hearn.

    "I don't see why it should be a problem at all. It's a fight for the good of the sport that everyone wants to see. As long as Tyson wins his next fight, and Joshua wins his mandatory fight next, it can happen.

    "It seems like everyone is looking for reasons why it shouldn't happen. Nearly every big fight we have got over the line. 

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    UFC president Dana White has compared Conor McGregor to boxing greats Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray Leonard after the Irishman made his return to the Octagon.

    McGregor needed just 40 seconds to defeat Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in Las Vegas on Saturday, as the 31-year-old marked his comeback after 15 months away from the Octagon in style.

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    "[Conor] is such a huge superstar. I put him up there with Tyson, Leonard," White told a media conference.

    "All of them," he added when asked if McGregor could be compared to Ali, considered to be the greatest fighter in boxing history.

    "He's got the biggest pay-per-view in pay-per-view history. How many of the top 10 does he have? I don't even know. He's one of the biggest stars out there.

    "A lot of the times coming in his career he's been doubted for his talent and he proves everybody wrong every time."

    White was also asked how much McGregor was worth to UFC, with a figure of $2billion suggested by a reporter.

    "Two billion dollars? Sounds like a good number, I'll take that," White joked. "I don't know what he's worth to the company but it's big.

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    "This is one of those fights that people who normally don't buy [do] buy, right? So, the number is always massive.

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    McGregor's previous fight came in October 2018, when he was defeated by Khabib Nurmagomedov.

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    "We're at a place right now where Conor was saying that, going into the Khabib fight, he had lots of personal stuff," said White.

    "Some stuff [was] self-inflicted. He had injuries. He had all these things going on. He has been obsessed with getting that rematch because he knows that he wasn't 100 per cent right.

    "We're looking at like Ali-Foreman, Ali-Frazier. This is a massive fight with global appeal. It's the fight you make, it's the fight that makes sense. It's for the 155-pound title.

    "It's huge for Khabib’s legacy, too. If he beat McGregor, then he beats Tony Ferguson, then he beats McGregor again, I mean, this is how this kid, when he retires, he's 30-something and, oh, he's beaten all of the best."

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