THOMAS HEARNS vs PERNELL WHITAKER
Damn, what a fantastic, fantastic dream match between two of my all time favourite fighters. The Hitman vs Sweet Pea, the killer vs the dancer, or "Can lighting strike what can't be touched?"
Let's see what happens!
Quick info about Tommy Hearns:
- At 6' 1'' and with a 78" was really really big for 154 and huge for 147. He would have had important advantages over the likes of Austin Trout or Erislandy Lara, Hearns being quite a bit taller than them and with a few inches of reach on them too. A good one to compare to Hearns in terms of size is Paul Williams, they are more or less the same.
- As he was, Tommy had tremendous, murderous power. Not much needs to be said about it, he definitely had the power to put anyone to sleep if he caught him the right way. Plus, some of his KO punches (like the Durán one) were some of the fastest I've ever seen, too. In the offensive department, Tommy was surely a Hitman.
- We can't say the same about his chin. Tommy's chin has been regarded as his worst weakness, and it was shown to be a definitely breakable chin.
- As a boxer, he was very skilled. His size, reach, speed and technique, made it so, as far as I know, he was never outboxed over a full fight. You either stopped him, or he stopped you, or he beat you up and decisioned you.
Quick info about Pernell Whitaker:
- At 5' 6'' and with a 69'' reach, I think Pernell was well sized for 140, maybe he was a normal sized welterweight too. I honestly see him as average for the category. Now, which weight was his best? 140, 147?
- He was the definition of an almost impossible to hit fighter. He's an all time great defensive master, and his reflexes and body movement have been the standard to which other defensive fighters are compared. There's little else to say about his evasion. For anyone that has not watched him fight, his evasion was probably better than you would expect. He was that good.
- He didn't have thunderous power. His speed, technique, timing and accuracy made it so he definitely had the power to keep people honest, but you wouldn't expect him to dominate any fight with his power or put any decently resilient fighter to sleep.
- He knew his tricks, he was technical, he had plenty of tools and he was experienced.
- He was basically undefeated for most of his career, since his only losses and draws were highly debatable, even to the point of him being robbed.
- Whitaker definitely has the edge in defense, reflexes and speed (at least in the footwork and body movement speed department).
- While I don't think Whitaker had an awesome chin, he definitely got hit from time to time, and since Tommy's chin has always been talked about as weak, I give a decent edge to Whitaker on this one.
- It just happens that the differential in power is much greater than the one in chin, this time clearly in Hearn's favour. There's probably not many boxers I can think of that would enjoy a clear p4p power advantage over The Hitman.
- I won't make a judge in things like stamina, ring IQ, general smarts or ability to adapt. I'm not comfortable judging that, but as a work hypothesis, I'll take them as equals. Tell me what you think about this.
Setting up the fight:
Since Whitaker fought for many years at welterweight, and he was comfortable there, and Hearns also fought at welterweight, we are having them fight at welterweight. There's one thing, though. Pernell was probably a bit small for welterweight, while Hearns was huge for the category.
So, for this exercise, we will make them converge a bit more in terms of size that it would actually have happened in reality. So we will give Pernell a couple of inches and take a couple from Hearns. I want Tommy to still be quite bigger than Pernell, just not to the same degree as their actual sizes suggest. Kind of, imagine Williams vs Floyd, taking away 1 or 2 inches from Floyd's reach, maybe. That's our fight.
My own pick:
This is quite a difficult pick. I guess most people would ask themselves the same question: Can Pernell avoid getting tagged by Tommy for long enough to win rounds and decision him? Can he sustain getting hit by Tommy, regain control and keep doing his thing? Or maybe the first time that Tommy gets to Pernell cleanly, the power will be too much for Pernell, leading him to get hurt and/or unbalanced and seriously putting himself at risk of stoppage?
My humble opinion on this one, and I'm starting to feel a bit bad about modern fighters, since I have picked the older one to win in all 4 matchups, is that Tommy had such reach, and he hit so hard and fast, that not even a defensive genius like Whitaker would be able to nullify him completely. And being smaller than The Hitman, I think Pea would really need to not get hit cleanly at all in order to survive.
Thus, my vote goes to Thomas Hearns, by stoppage.