Nunn May Hold Title but His Nickname Lacks Punch

Times Staff Writer

There's little doubt anymore that Michael Nunn is a good fighter. Perhaps a very good fighter. Oh, he still may lack the power necessary to command worldwide audiences, but in defending his North American Boxing Federation welterweight championship Saturday, he landed enough stinging punches to turn Kevin Watts into Kevin Welts.

Nunn has a swift jab, a lightning right hand and quick feet.

But his problem is that he has a really bad nickname.

Rocky Marciano was The Rock. Joe Louis was The Brown Bomber. Thomas Hearns is The Hit Man. Marvelous Marvin Hagler liked his nickname so much that he made it his legal first name.

And then there's Nunn. His nickname is so, well, let's see if boxing fan Albert Froehm of Tarzana can explain this:

"I think everyone kind of laughs when Nunn's introduced because of that nickname," Froehm said. "I mean, it's supposed to be a nickname, but it just sounds like the middle of a sentence."

Still wondering what Nunn's nickname is? OK, we'll give you a big hint. His nickname is contained in the following sentence. We'll give you a second to figure it out.

Still can't latch onto it? OK, let's break the sentence down for you.

Is he Michael "We'll Give You A" Nunn? " No.

Is he Michael "Figure It Out" Nunn? Wrong again.

That leaves us with Michael "Second To" Nunn, now doesn't it?

Michael "Second To" Nunn. How clever. Such a dandy play on words. It's stitched onto his fighting robe and even onto the back of one pair of his boxing trunks. (The front of his new trunks is spoken for, having been sold as an advertising spot for a brick company, complete with a stack of bricks.)

Can't you just see the scene some day in the lobby of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas as now-famous Michael Nunn strolls through the lobby?

"Look, honey," an excited husband says to his wife. "Over there. It's him. It's Second To."

It's time Nunn and his managers and trainers at the Ten Goose Boxing Club in North Hollywood think of something else to cram between Nunn's names.

For starters, he is currently introduced as the No. 2-ranked welterweight in the world, which he is according to the World Boxing Council. And then a voice from the ring booms, "Michael Second To Nunn." Now is this confusing? He's ranked second in the world, which means another challenger and the champion are ranked ahead of him, but he's second to none? And the World Boxing Assn. ranks Nunn third, which means there are three fighters they consider better than Second To Nunn.

He should be introduced as Michael "Second To Just A Few" Nunn.

But if he insists on incorporating some sort of play on words for his nickname, here are some suggestions:

Michael "Top Gunn" Nunn. His contracts would stipulate that he only fight outdoors, and just as the first round begins he would have a squadron of jet fighters buzz the ring at an altitude of about 50 feet. That will get an opponent's attention.

Michael "This Is Fun" Nunn. With this nickname Nunn enters the ring for his fights with a fake arrow piercing his head and puts a whoopie cushion on his opponent's ring stool. The first time he takes a punch to the head, he drops a set of those chattering false teeth and lets them hop around the ring. This gets him on every 11 o'clock sportscast in the nation.

Michael "I Like to Run" Nunn. For this one he enters the ring wearing spiked track shoes instead of the usual boxing boots. And his trainer carries a pair of metal sprinter's starting blocks that he drapes over the ropes. And instead of a bell, each round is begun and ended by a shot from a starter's pistol.

Michael "I'd Like You to Meet My Son" Nunn. For this attention-grabber, Nunn fights with his young son draped over his shoulders. The youngster occasionally puts both hands over his father's eyes during a round and shouts, "Guess who?" If you think this is dangerous and might result in severe injury to the young boy, you haven't seen most of Nunn's opponents.

Michael "I Weigh a Ton" Nunn. For this nickname Nunn leaves the welterweight division and eats his way into the heavyweight division where he becomes the fattest professional boxer ever. To get from his current weight of 160 pounds to the required 2,000 pounds, Nunn must gain 1,840 pounds. He immediately hires Raymond Burr as his trainer and nutritionist.

The first bout on the four-fight undercard ended in explosive fashion 19 seconds into the third round of a scheduled four-rounder. Tony Olivas (2-1) of Pasadena put down Joey Esquivel (1-2) of Van Nuys with a shattering right hand. Esquivel twice staggered to his feet before finally collapsing into the ropes.

Both of Olivas' victories have come by knockout.

Lightweight Felipe Ortiz (2-2-1, one knockout) of Los Angeles won a unanimous five-round decision over Oscar Ornelas of East Los Angles. Ornelas fell to 5-5-3.

Junior welterweight Robert Smith of San Diego improved his record to 2-3-1 with a unanimous four-round decision over Steve Lewis (2-2) of North Hollywood. Lewis was floored in both the second and fourth rounds.

In the day's final preliminary, welterweight Ray Taylor of San Diego improved to 8-3-2 with a unanimous decision over Derrick Hudson (7-14-2) of Bakersfield in a four-round bout.

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