IBF light welterweight champion
In 1992, Pernell Whitaker began his ascent in weight, winning the IBF light welterweight title from Colombian puncher Rafael Pineda on July 18.
WBC and lineal welterweight champion
On March 6, 1993, he decisioned Buddy McGirt to become the Lineal and WBC welterweight champion.
Whitaker vs Chavez
Whitaker was gaining momentum and boxing experts and fans felt that he needed to win against the pound-for-pound best boxer in the world: Julio Cesar Chavez. the two met in a welterweight superfight simply named "The Fight" on September 10, 1993 in San Antonio, Texas. In the eyes of many of the spectators, Whitaker outboxed the Mexican legend. However, 2 of the 3 judges saw an even bout with the other judge scoring in favor of Whitaker, resulting in a majority draw.
WBA super welterweight champion
In his next fight on March 4, 1995, Whitaker added Julio Cesar Vasquez's WBA super welterweight title to his collection. Although Whitaker suffered a flash knockdown early on in the fight, he basically faced no real trouble against Vasquez en route to the win. This was a history making fight for Whitaker, as he became only the fourth fighter in history, joining Thomas Hearns, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Roberto Duran, to have won a legitimate world title in four different weight classes. However, he chose to move back to welterweight.
Return to welterweight
Whitaker successfully defended his WBC belt against Scotland's Gary Jacobs on August 26, 1995. In January, 1997, Whitaker put his title on the line against Cuban fighter Diosbelys Hurtado. Hurtado gave Whitaker all he could handle and then some. Hurtado had Whitaker down on all the judges scorecards going into the 11th round: Hurtado scored flash knockdowns against Whitaker in rounds 1 and 6, and Whitaker landed a left hook that hurt Hurtado and, in a rare display of aggression and power, unleashed a barrage of left handed power shots, pummeling Hurtado into the ropes, knocking Hurtado out and almost completely out of the ring before referee Arthur Mercante Jr. stopped the fight at the 1:52 mark, giving Whitaker the come from behind TKO win. The win set up a showdown with undefeated 1992 Olympic gold medalist Oscar De La Hoya.
Whitaker vs De La Hoya
He met Oscar De La Hoya on April 12, 1997, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Whitaker, defending his WBC championship and the mythical status as the best boxer in the world, pound-for-pound, succeeded in making De La Hoya look bad through his crafty defense, but he was unable to mount a sufficient offense to convince the judges. Whitaker was awarded and official knockdown in the 9th round and, according to CompuBox stats, outlanded De La Hoya in overall punches and connect percentage, using the jab as his primary weapon; but De La Hoya threw and landed almost twice as many power punches and had a slightly higher power punch connect percentage than Whitaker, which may have been the key factor in De La Hoya winning by a disputed unanimous decision. At the end of the fight, the judges' scores were 111-115, 110-116, 110 -116.