Pernell Whitaker, a four-weight world champion, was one of the best defensive boxers of his era. Fight fans from around the world are joined in mourning after news that the man known as Sweet Pea was struck by a vehicle Sunday night (July 14) in his native Virginia, dying from his injuries.
The Virginia Beach Police Department said that the incident remains an active investigation but that Whitaker was apparently hit by a vehicle at around 10 p.m. Sunday when he was walking at an intersection.
“When officers arrived on scene they located an adult male victim who had been hit by a vehicle. The victim succumbed to his injuries on the scene,” Virginia Beach Police Department spokesman L.M. Bauder said in a statement. “The driver of the vehicle remained on scene with police.”
Known as “Sweet Pea,” Whitaker, a southpaw from Norfolk, Virginia, was revered as perhaps the best defensive fighter in history as his slick moves confounded opponent after opponent.
In his time, Whitaker embarrassed his opponents with bob and weave skills that only Floyd Mayweather Jr. has come close to mastering. While his fists didn’t pack knockout power, he stood toe to toe with some of the most feared punchers ever and never once backed down from a challenge.
On Twitter, Whitaker’s name appeared atop the trending topics with reactions from fans all over the world. We’ve collected some of those responses below.
Rest Powerfully In Peace, Sweet Pea.
Boxing Legend Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker Dead At 55, Twitter Reacts #PernellWhitaker was originally published on hiphopwired.com
On my NY public access TV show “Max on Boxing” (1989-1998), I talked Pernell Whitaker more than any other fighter; it was basically the Pernell Whitaker show. He was the pound for pound best for half a decade, and one of the 3 greatest pure boxers who ever lived. RIP Sweet Pea.— Max Kellerman (@maxkellerman) July 15, 2019
RIP Pernell Whitaker 😢. Rest up Champ. 🥊— Skinny Suge (@FreddieGibbs) July 15, 2019
This man was one of the greatest boxers ever to lace up gloves, loved watching him growing, defensive savant and as brave as they come. This is insanely sad. https://t.co/OzPUCeBmgK— NOT VAN JONES BUT VAN LATHAN (@VanLathan) July 15, 2019
Rest In Peace Pernell Whitaker.— PHAROAHE MONCH (@pharoahemonch) July 15, 2019
RIP Pernell Whitaker. He was majestic. He had the rare ability to stand toe to toe without getting touched. Always at punching distance but never getting punched. Watch him on YouTube. It’s lightning in a bottle.— Andrew Schulz 👑HEZI (@andrewschulz) July 15, 2019
R.I.P. Pernell Whitaker, one of the most talented boxers of all time. pic.twitter.com/mn1USQuAHD— Bruce Blitz (@BruceBlitz) July 15, 2019
Before there was Floyd Mayweather— Undefeated Podcast (@undefeated_pod) July 15, 2019
There was Sweet Pea
R.I.P Pernell Whitaker pic.twitter.com/FRGDPNMyun
Rest In Peace Pernell Whitaker😔 what a terrible way for a legend to go out pic.twitter.com/t0D2K6n7MV— Sean Tiernan (@ForaClass97) July 15, 2019
“Sweet Pea” held me as a baby. I’m always reminded of how truly sweet he was to my grandparents, who sold him suits for years. Sad day. crushed I never got to meet him, and thank him for the love he showed my grndparents. Bet Gigi’s happy to see him. Rest easy, Champ. @WAVY_News pic.twitter.com/8pcEOWun5r— Nathan Epstein (@Nathan_Epstein) July 15, 2019
So sad to hear of the passing of the GREAT Pernell Whitaker. For a huge portion of his Hall of Fame career, “Sweet Pea” was untouchable.— 2 More Connors (@kevconnorsespn) July 15, 2019
RIP to a legend. 🥊🥊 pic.twitter.com/Y8uLifGJCN