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.