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Whitaker Says He Was the Best : Boxing: Few dispute his assertion after welterweight champion fights Chavez to a draw.


SAN ANTONIO — Nobody won, but nobody shouted down Pernell Whitaker on Saturday when he claimed victory over Julio Cesar Chavez after their fight at the Alamodome on Friday night.

Whitaker (32-1-1) spoke about the majority-decision draw calmly, saying that everyone who saw his 12-round defense of his World Boxing Council welterweight title knows that he is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

Whitaker said he didn't see any immediate need for a rematch, because he wanted to enjoy his "sweet victory" for as long as possible.

In contrast, an hour after the fight, early Saturday morning, Chavez was still angrily defending himself against those who said he clearly lost the fight. Chavez insisted that he deserves another chance at Whitaker, to avenge the only blot on an otherwise perfect 88-fight record.

"Remember, I went into the ring a challenger," Chavez said through an interpreter, "and remember, I am not a welterweight.

"I tried to achieve something historical for myself. I am fighting at 142 pounds, although I am a 140-pounder, naturally. I certainly deserve a rematch. Now I can represent myself better."

Chavez said that the left-handed Whitaker fought on the edges of legality, locking him in clenches to avoid body shots and hitting him with below-the-belt punches, one of which was ruled unintentional and caused Chavez to dance around the ring in pain for about 30 seconds.

Whitaker used a strategy of landing body shots, then slipping away before Chavez could retaliate, and then landing shots to Chavez's face when Chavez lunged at him.

Chavez said he was not quite ready for the style, and was not able to use his dangerous left hook as much as he wanted to.

Then, in a defensive tone that Chavez has never had to use before, he said: "I continue to be a world champion," referring to his WBC super-lightweight belt, which was not being fought for Friday.

The fight was ruled a draw when two judges scored it 115-115, overriding the American judge, who gave the fight to Whitaker, 115-113.

In an earlier fight on the card, WBC super-featherweight champion Azumah Nelson retained his title against hometown favorite James Leija by a draw.

Terry Norris was the only champion who retained his title by actually winning his fight, with a devastating first-round knockout of James Gatti. But Norris might wind up the unluckiest fighter of the night.

Norris, the WBC super-welterweight champion, badly wants a big-money matchup with Chavez, but probably saw that possibility slip away.

Norris couldn't fight Chavez at a weight any lower than 147, and Chavez said after the fight that he was uncomfortable fighting at a 145-pound limit. He weighed in at 142.

"Terry will probably have to move to middleweight," said his manager, Joe Sayatovich, "since there's not a welterweight who can survive a round with him. And we didn't see anybody in that last fight who can last a round with Terry, I'll tell you that."

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