History | Feb 20 2019

On This Day: Defensive genius Pernell Whitaker beaten clearly for the first time

Felix Trinidad beats Pernell Whitaker to put himself in prime position for a unification clash with Oscar De La Hoya, writes Sam Corbishley
Pernell Whitaker
Whitaker fights Trinidad at Madison Square Garden Action Images/Reuters

1. BOTH Felix Trinidad and Pernell Whitaker were coming back after lengthy lay-offs in this February 20, 1999 Madison Square Garden clash for Trinidad’s IBF welterweight title before 13,822 fans.

2. TRINIDAD, 33-0-0 (28), had been out of the ring for 10 months due to a lengthy battle in the courts to free himself from Don King – a battle he lost. King promptly presented Tito with a new long-term contract which included this fight with Whitaker.

3. ‘SWEET PEA’, 41-2-1 (17), had not fought for 16 months due to drug problems. After first testing positive for cocaine following his win over Andrei Pestriaev in October 1997, he vehemently denied taking the drug. However, a trip to rehab was soon on the cards after a second positive test scuppered a bid for Ike Quartey’s WBA strap. “It cost me a year of my career. It was something that happened and is over,” he said.