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Nunn Can Run, but He Also Can Pack a Punch

Associated Press

He’s a bit of a dancer, considers himself an entertainer and likes his boyish, unmarked face just the way it is.

Let the ringside critics taunt him with yells of “Quit running, you coward.”

Michael Nunn feeds off it.

“I consider myself like Michael Jackson, on stage,” undefeated the International Boxing Federation middleweight champion said. “I enjoy my job, I live it.

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“The people on the outside, the people who have never laced on boxing gloves, their sitting out there booing me has helped me,” Nunn said.

“I don’t get any extra money for getting in there and taking shots. All I do is do my job with a passion, be successful and win,” said Nunn, whose agility and long reach allow him to stay out of most opponents’ range before he finally moves in to finish them off.

“My reach and height allows me to get punches in on guys, dictate the fight, do what I want to do. The other guy’s gotta worry about what Michael Nunn’s doing,” said 6-foot-1 champ with a reach of 77 inches, a span some six inches longer than average for his division.

The 25-year-old Nunn, who’ll defend his IBF title against Sumbu Kalambay of Italy next Saturday night at the Las Vegas Hilton on HBO, has knocked out 22 of his 32 pro foes, including a ninth-round technical knockout to take the IBF title from Frank Tate last July. He then scored an eighth-round knockout of the brawling Juan Domingo Roldan in a title defense on Nov. 4.

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“People have said I can’t punch. Let my opponents be the judge. My opponents aren’t saying that,” Nunn said.

Although Nunn has a perfect record and has moved into the $1 million-per-fight class, he has not gained the fame of a Sugar Ray Leonard, whom he figures someday to face, nor even a Thomas Hearns.

“I can’t worry about Leonard, (Roberto) Duran, Hearns,” Nunn said. “I’m just going to keep getting in the ring and being successful. . . . People who don’t know me will know me. The whole world’s going to know me.”

Unlike some boxers who have led less than exemplary personal lives, Nunn, who now lives in North Hollywood, says that he believes responsibility comes with fame.

“You’re under a microscope,” he said. “You’ve got to conduct yourself properly in public. I want to try to be a great role model for children.”

Dan Goossen, Nunn’s manager, doesn’t think Nunn will have any problem being a good role model.

“He’s a level-headed kid,” Goossen said. “The more time I’ve spent in his hometown (Davenport, Iowa), the more I understand the key ingredient to Michael is outside the ring. He got an excellent foundation from his mom. I think the first thing he thinks is how his mom is going to react to something.”

Immediate on Nunn’s mind at present, of course, is getting past Kalambay, who has a 46-3-1 record with 26 knockouts. Their match was supposed to be for both Nunn’s IBF title and Kalambay’s World Boxing Assn. crown, but the WBA recently stripped Kalambay of the title because he is not defending against the WBA’s No. 1 contender, Herol Graham of England.

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“The WBA title would have been nice to have,” Nunn said. “But I’m not really concerned (about the title being taken away from Kalambay). I don’t want to get caught up in all the titles. I just want to reach my potential and make money. I’ll prove I’m the middleweight champion.

“He’s going to be tough; once you’re a champion, all your fights are tough. It will be an interesting fight . . . but I’m the better man.”


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