Boxing great Azumah Nelson has paid glowing tribute to former opponent Pernel ‘Sweet Pea’ Whitaker who passed away after he was knocked down by a vehicle.
Widely regarded as the best defensive fighter of all-time, Whitaker fought as a professional for 17 years and held titles at four different weight classes. He retired in 1997 with a record of 40-4-1 with 17 knockouts.
The Ghanaian legend described Whitaker as a great champion and professed admiration for his fighting style. “He’s a good fighter. I liked the way he moves. I like the way he boxed. He’s a great champion.”
Azumah lost to Whitaker in 1990, one of two defeats the professor didn’t get the opportunity to avenge. The other was against the great Salvador Sanchez, who passed away less than a month after the fight.
He revealed that he tried to get a rematch against Whitaker but the American declined, saying“It is only a fool who will give you (Nelson) a rematch”.
According to him, Whitaker didn’t want to endure another encounter with him in the ring, the reason a rematch never happened.
He said he was shocked when news of Whitaker’s passing broke, adding it is regrettable he was unable to pass on his (fighting) style to another boxer to immortalize his memory.
“He’s a nice person who comes to you and asks how you’re doing. I can’t take anything from him. It was shocking to learn of his passing. I would have hoped he had trained someone to inherit his style so his name would live on. God knows best. My sympathy is with the family.”