In the Aftermath, Fighting Words


Pernell Whitaker put a full-page ad on Page 3 of my newspaper’s sports section, offering Oscar De La Hoya $12 million for a Sept. 13 rematch of their fight last weekend in Las Vegas.

“Hey Oscar,” Sweet Pea wrote. “Now you have 12 million reasons for us to fight again. I just have one, I was robbed Saturday night. A true champion would not be able to accept such a tainted victory. You claim you call the shots. Stop hiding behind your promoter. It’s time for the ‘Golden Boy’ to start acting like a man.


“Pernell Whitaker”

Well, isn’t that sweet?

I believe Oscar should run a full-page ad of his own.

“Hey Pernell,” he could say. “Thank you for your generous offer of April 17. I am very busy counting all the money I won off you Saturday. My hands are so tired, from counting my money and from punching you in your head. I obviously shook something loose in there. Man, this championship belt sure is tight. Adios, Sweet Pea. Write when you find work.



“Oscar De La Hoya”

And then Pernell could place another ad.

“Hey Oscar,” he could write. “What will it take to get you back in the ring? Twelve million reasons? Thirteen? Let go of Bob Arum’s apron, you big baby. Hey, Mr. Arum! Can Oscar come out and play? A true champion would admit that I’m the true champion. You’re a false champ. You used to be true, but now you’re false. True good, false bad. Fight me, you falsie.

“Yours truly,

“Pernell Whitaker”

Whereupon, Oscar could again reply.

“Hey Pernell,” his next ad would go. “You write better than you fight. Maybe the newspaper can give you a job covering my next fight. You can sit down there at ringside, with your notebook and your little Bic pen. I will even grant you an interview. Or, maybe Mr. Arum will agree to have you introduced before my next fight, along with all the other former ‘true champions.’

“Your conqueror,

“Oscar De La Hoya”

Which would really make Sweet Pea mad.

“Hey De La Hoax,” he might write. “You aren’t Golden Boy. You’re Yellow Boy. I think you should apply to El Pollo Loco, for work as a chicken. Bawk, bawk, bawk. And that goes for your little promoter too. I was robbed in Las Vegas. Those judges must have been your father, your brother and your uncle. I knocked you down. I won every round. I even won the referee’s instructions. I demand either a rematch or a refund!



Well, the war of words wouldn’t end there.

“Hey Sub-Parnell,” the next ad would begin. “The only thing you can hit in Las Vegas is a 12 at the blackjack table. Me, you hardly touched. I slipped once. I must have stepped in some of your flop sweat. Go back to your pod, Sweet Pea. The only man you’re ready to rumble with is Michael Buffer. He could beat you in his tuxedo. I don’t need your $12 million. Save it for your retirement needs.

“Affectionately not,


Infuriating Whitaker, so that he would write:

“Dear Readers of This Newspaper,” in very large type. “As you know, I have placed several ads now, attempting to dare De La Hoya into a fight. (I also sold my car and an antique lamp, in this paper’s excellent Classified section. Ads available at reasonable rates. Call now, operators standing by.) Oscar’s only reply is to duck, which he tried to do against me in Vegas, unsuccessfully. I appeal to you, his public. Tell this chicken to stop ducking.


“Pernell Whitaker”

That would be the last straw.

“Dear Readers of This Newspaper,” Oscar would respond. “Pernell Whitaker runs more ads in this paper than the hair-replacement people. I will consider his offer and get back to you. Now, turn the page, for last night’s baseball scores.”