Pernell "Sweetpea" Whitaker, showing no ill effects of a twice-broken left hand that slowed his professional rise, won the International Boxing Federation lightweight title Saturday with a 12-round unanimous decision over Greg Haugen.
Whitaker, fighting before a crowd near his hometown of Norfolk, improved to 17-1. His only loss came in March 1988, when he broke his left hand for the second time while fighting Jose Luis Ramirez for the World Boxing Council lightweight title.Whitaker was in control throughout, taking the role of the aggressor in the first two rounds by setting up Haugen with a series of right jabs before moving in with left hooks.
Haugen tried to take the aggressor's role in the third round, but Whitaker came back late with a series of combinations to the head. In the fourth and fifth rounds, Whitaker continued to work Haugen along the ropes, scoring repeatedly with strong left hooks.
The only knockdown came midway through the sixth round, when a left hook by Whitaker sent the champion down. Haugen jumped up quickly, shaking his head to indicate he was not hurt by the punch, but Whitaker moved in on him again late in the round and appeared to hurt him again with another hard left hook.
Whitaker kept working away at Haugen in the later rounds, keeping the chmapion against the ropes and fighting off his advances. By the end of the fight, a small scrape had been opened under Haugen's right eye, and both eyes were swollen nearly shut.
Haugen tried to make up for his deficit in the final round, but Whitaker, appearing much fresher, easily fought off the advances and ended the fight with a flurry of combinations to Haugen's head.