Nunn's Run-and-Gun Piles Up the Points and Makes Him 10-0

Times Staff Writer

When former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali used to start dancing in the ring, the crowd started cheering.

When middleweight Michael Nunn employed the strategy Wednesday night, he made no fans. Not in the crowd and not in the opposing corner.

But Nunn's running-while-gunning defensive strategy brought the unbeaten North Hollywood middleweight his 10th victory Wednesday night at the Showboat Hotel.

And no regrets.

"I fought a defensive fight," the 22-year-old Nunn said of his eight-round victory by a unanimous decision over Jorge Amparo (8-5-1).

It was a victory earned by piling up points, mostly with an effective overhand left, while backpedaling out of the reach of his 31-year-old opponent.

"When I saw I couldn't knock him out," Nunn said, "I figured, why should I expend all my energy on Jorge Amparo? I decided to outbox him."

The strategy worked nearly perfectly. Amparo did not win a round on the card of Judge Paul Smith, who scored it 80-72. Judge Dave Moretti scored it 79-73, giving one round to Amparo. Judge Bill Graham gave Amparo two rounds, scoring it 78-74.

There wasn't much appreciation for the strategy in the Amparo locker room.

"We are going to protest," said Alex Fried, manager for the Spanish-speaking Amparo, a native of the Dominican Republic. "It should have been at least a draw.

"He was running like a chicken. You have to stop monkeying around and fight. This wasn't a fight. For Michael Nunn to prove he is Michael Nunn, he has to fight. What he did tonight was a joke."

Through interpreter Mario Macias, Amparo, who lives in Las Vegas, agreed.

"His style is running," Amparo said of Nunn, "but to win, he has to stop and fight. He no want to fight."

Fried placed the blame on referee Carlos Padilla.

"My fighter pressed as hard as he can," Fried said. "But the referee is supposed to stop the other fighter and tell him to fight."

Padilla doesn't agree this was necessary Wednesday night.

"Nunn's style is like Ali's," Padilla said, referring to the former champ's method of making an art form out of his ability to destroy opponents with long-range punches while dancing out of reach. "Nunn was throwing punches. If he was not throwing punches, then I would have stopped the fight.

"Amparo fought Nunn's fight because he kept chasing him. If he had stayed pat, he would have forced Nunn to come after him."

When Padilla speaks of Ali's float-like-a-butterfly, sting-like-a-bee style, it is with first-hand knowledge. He has been in the ring for 46 world title fights, including Ali's memorable win over Joe Frazier, the so-called Thrilla in Manila.

Not many in the crowd of about 900 would be likely to characterize the Nunn fight as a thrilla.

Although he proved he can float like a butterfly for eight rounds without showing much fatigue, Nunn's stings produced points but not much in the way of dramatic blows.

And that, in turn, produced scattered boos from the sixth round on.

"I can't sit there and worry about pleasing the fans," said Dan Goossen, Nunn's manager. "If we please the fans, maybe we get a draw. We have to please ourselves first.

"I'm sorry we didn't nail Michael's feet to the floor, so Amparo could stand in there and slug it out with him.

"We did what James Kinchen couldn't do."

Goossen was referring to Amparo's biggest claim to fame, his 1984 draw with Kinchen, then ranked second by the World Boxing Council in the middleweight division.

"Michael isn't one to stand and slug it out," said Joe Goossen, one of Dan's brothers who serves as Nunn's trainer. "That's what Kinchen did. That's why he got a draw. We were not going to play Amparo's game.

"If they are filing a protest, it just shows what poor losers they are.

"If you just look at Amparo's face and see the lumps and bruises, it shows the punishment he took. Amparo is a comer. Michael is a boxer. The boxer prevailed. Michael was slipping and moving the last three rounds. That's what a boxer does."

Nunn, who had shown a highly effective jab in knocking out his first eight professional opponents, had it on display for the first few rounds Wednesday night, using it to set up his left.

But the jab seemed to desert him in the closing rounds when he appeared content to protect the big lead he had amassed.

"I was so far ahead," Nunn said, "I figured, why go in and go to war with him? If I had to fight it over, I might throw a few more punches in the final rounds.

"He's a comer, but I won easy. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. I think I fought a perfect fight. I had some perfect moments."

Even if the crowd didn't agree?

"Hey, they've booed some of the all-time greats," Nunn said. "They've booed Ali and a lot of the others. As long as they raise my hand at the end, that's all that matters."

Nunn has had his hand raised quite a bit this year. This was his ninth fight of 1985, with one to follow.

He is scheduled to meet middleweight Billy Robertson on Dec. 10 at the Forum.

In Wednesday's Showboat main event, Sammy Fuentes of New York stopped Roberto Juarez of Stockton in the eighth and final round of their junior welterweight battle. Fuentes is 10-1 with seven knockouts.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World