Pernell Whitaker and the Jab


pernell whitaker jab

How Pernell Whitaker Utilised the Jab

So yesterday was one year since the passing of Sweet Pea Pernell Whitaker, one of the greatest boxers of all time and unquestionably one of the very best in my lifetime since I have been following boxing. I have made four short videos on Whitaker and its ironic that despite Whitaker being so well known for his defence, counter punching and as perhaps the greatest southpaw ever – all four of my videos have revolved around his use of the jab. The more you watch Pernell Whitaker box the more you realise he actually had one of the greatest jabs of all time, there was nothing he wouldn’t do with the jab. In this article I am going to include all four videos I have made and how he used the jab, no doubt in future there will be more tricks of the jab I will see when watching film of Sweet Pea.

The Blinding Jab

Whitakers use of the blinding jab against Julio Cesar Chavez was perfect. The blinding jab is used to obscure the vision of the opponent so they cannot see what is coming behind it. I’ve said before in other articles that the punch which hurts the most is the punch you don’t see coming so using the blinding jab and following it up with a power shot such as the rear cross is the perfect way to set up a punch your opponent cannot see. What is more outrageous about this move from Whitaker is the poise he performs it with – he is up against another legend of the sport who was 87-0 at this point in his career yet Whitaker remains calm as it pulls off multiple jabs followed by the cross.

The Bait

This is a super move from Whitaker. Sweet Pea now uses his jab as a bait by jabbing at his opponent, here he is trying to bait the opponent into countering his jab. Whitaker will jab and step back anticipating the counter punch. When his opponent eventually bites on the bait, Whitaker has stepped out and throw the left cross. Not only has his opponent fallen for the bait and walked forwards but by stepping in to counter he has magnified the power of Whitakers cross, Sweet Pea has successfully walked his opponent into the punch – excellent ring IQ from Pernell Whitaker and an excellent trap.

The Up Jab

The up jab is a jab which is delivered with the lead hand low, this is dropped slightly in order to tempt the opponent to throw a punch in. The upward trajectory of the jab comes from under the eye line which can catch a boxer out if they aren’t alert and the up jab is excellent against an overly aggressive fighter as they will walk into the up jab which is aimed at stopping the opponent in their tracks. Another use for the up jab is that the upwards angle sets up the cross behind the jab, the up jab knocks the head up from below ready for the cross coming behind it. Again we see Whitaker using this against Chavez Sr who was stalking him the whole fight so the up jab was an excellent change of jab.

Different Bait Same Outcome

Here we will see Pernell Whitaker first using the jab to bait his opponent. Whitaker will jab and step out to the left – by stepping to the left he is stepping right in the line of the opponents power hand. Whitaker is doing this because by touching with the jab he is trying to get his opponent to counter punch and when he does Whitaker is ready for it by simply blocking and countering with the left cross. Now in the same round Whitaker jabs and steps to his right – away from the opponents power hand. Whitaker then uses his footwork to bait the counter by stepping back out to his left and again into the line of his opponents right hand. Whitaker knows his opponent will bite and throw a punch and his opponent having just missed a lead right instead tries to land the stiff jab hoping to catch Whitaker out by throwing the jab not the cross. Whitaker, known for his defence and reactions is able to slip the shot and again counter with his left cross.

About the author 


Boxing Coach
Strength and Conditioning Coach
Boxing Author of:

The Boxing Cheat Sheet - Your Ultimate Guide to Ring Survival

Strength and Conditioning for Boxing - Work out Hits to get you Fighting Fit!

Forgotten Legends of the Ring - Ten Past Masters of the Squared Circle

*Any videos or images used on this site to support my articles that are copyrighted are used for educational purposes and in accordance to the fair use act and are not my own - all credit is due to the respective owners. No copyright infringement intended.


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