In a classic matchup, Chavez tries to make Whitaker fight

September 10, 1993|By New York Times News Service

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- He can hide. He can run. He can spin. But at some point tonight, while most of the crowd of 60,000 will be booing his every move, Pernell Whitaker will have to fight.

And that is what his opponent, the almost-mythic Julio Cesar Chavez, does best.

Thus, a classic boxing confrontation awaits one of history's largest indoor fight crowds and a pay-per-view audience that could find one million homes tuned in.

The elusive, sneaky, infuriating Whitaker, possessor of a 32-1 record and the World Boxing Council's welterweight title, will defend that crown against Chavez. Whitaker weighed in last night at 145 pounds, three more than Chavez.

For Chavez, the Mexican with the 87-0 record who is moving up in weight from his super lightweight title, the anger at Whitaker's boasts is palpable.

Repeatedly, Chavez has said in Spanish -- but not in so many words -- that he possesses more courage than Whitaker.

This bout has especially intrigued the experts. Emanuel Steward, the trainer of Evander Holyfield, was so moved in discussing the fight over dinner that he leaped out of his chair.

"See, if Whitaker can do this" -- and Steward started to pummel the air with quick, short punches -- "pow-pow-pow pow, then get out, he's got a chance."

But then, more soberly, Steward sat down and suggested: "But he can't make a mistake. Chavez can make a mistake and still nail him, because we know Chavez can take a punch, but we don't know if Pernell can hurt him."

This is why Chavez will earn $5 million on a championship tripleheader that will take in about $30 million, including a live gate of about $6 million.

Whitaker, who will take home between $2.5 million and $3 million, has knocked out less than half of his opponents, 15.

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