BOXER PERNELL WHITAKER DEAD AT 55, HIT BY CAR IN VIRGINIA

EXCLUSIVE

REMEMBERING PERNELL "SWEET PEA" WHITAKERLAUNCH GALLERY

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8:56 AM PT-- TMZ Sports just spoke with boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. -- a long time friend of Pernell -- who tells us how much Whitaker meant to boxing ... and to him personally. 

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ROY JONES JR. REMEMBERS PERNELL

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7:26 AM PT-- Pernell took a photo withFloyd Mayweatherat an autograph show they were both appearing at in Virginia on the day before he died. 

Floyd paid tribute to Pernell on social media saying, "R I P champ, one of the best fighters to ever do it."

Boxing legendPernell Whitakerwas killed Sunday night after he was hit by a car in Virginia Beach,TMZ Sportshas learned. He was only 55. 

We're told officials received a call around 10:04 PM in response to an accident at the intersection of Northampton Boulevard and Baker Road. 

When cops arrived, they located the man who had been hit by a vehicle who was in really bad shape -- and our sources tell us that man was Pernell Whitaker. 

Emergency medical personnel at the scene tried to resuscitate Whitaker -- even performing CPR on him -- but unfortunately, Whitaker succumbed to his injuries and died. 

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Cops are investigating. Unclear if the driver of the car was arrested but he did stay on the scene to speak with police. It's NOT a hit and run situation. 

By the way, we're told the area where Pernell was hit is NOT a popular nightlife area -- in other words, it's not like he was out partying. 

Whitaker (who's from Virginia) was a BEAST in the ring ... winning world titles at 4 different weights -- lightweight, light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight. 

Sweet Pea was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006 -- and is considered by many to be one of the greatest fighters of ALL TIME. 

He fought everyone fromOscar De La HoyatoJulio Cesar Chavez-- and even though he lost to Oscar and Julio was a draw ... many people believe he was ROBBED in both decisions because he clearly won the fights. 

His pro career began in 1984 and spanned all the way through 2001, with an amazing 40-4-1 record including 17 knockouts.

He also won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in L.A. 

From 1993 to 1997 he was considered the #1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Ring Magazine named him the Fight of the Year in 1989. 

Whitaker is survived by his 5 children. RIP

Ex-NFL starMichael Vick, who's also from Virginia, tweeted about Whitaker's passing -- saying, 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker was our hometown legend and the greatest of all time. My prayers are with his family and loved ones."

Magic Johnsonadded ... "Pernell 'Sweet Pea' Whitaker was in the class of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard as one of the most entertaining fighters in my lifetime. I’m praying for his family."

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Originally Published -- 5:59 AM PT 

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