To Pack Forum for Fight Is Newest Goal for Nunn

Times Staff Writer

Having put to rest the notion he doesn’t hit very hard, Michael Nunn has a new goal.

He’d like to fill up the Forum, something no boxer has done since Reuben Olivares in the late 1960s when the Mexican bantamweight once drew over 18,000 to the Forum for a title fight. It’s a worthwhile challenge, since Nunn has some time to kill. If he ever fights Sugar Ray Leonard for a multimillion-dollar payday, it won’t happen for about a year, and not unless Leonard beats both Tommy Hearns (June 12 at Caesars Palace) and then Roberto Duran.

In the meantime, Nunn’s manager, Dan Goossen, is talking to Forum owner Jerry Buss about a Forum fight in May, against an opponent to be named later.

“We feel Mike can sell out the Forum, and Mike really wants to fight in his hometown,” Goossen said.


Nunn, the International Boxing Federation middleweight champion, lives in North Hollywood. Originally from Davenport, Iowa, he turned pro in 1984 after failing to make the Olympic team that year.

In what was supposed to be his stiffest test yet, Nunn knocked out Sumbu Kalambay in 88 seconds Saturday night at the Las Vegas Hilton, with one punch.

He raised his record to 33-0, and Goossen said afterward that Nunn will fight any middleweight, while he waits for bigger game, meaning Leonard.

“We haven’t done any business on it (a Forum fight) yet, but Jerry Buss was at the fight, and wants to have Mike fight there,” Goossen said.


One oft-mentioned possible Nunn opponent is former World Boxing Council champion Iran Barkley, who knocked out Tommy Hearns last year but was upset by Duran in February. Goosen says he told Bob Arum, Nunn’s promoter, that any top-10 middleweight Arum selects is fine.

Meanwhile, Nunn is making believers of some who dismissed him as a slap-and-run fighter. Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali’s former trainer, said before the fight that he was sure Kalambay would not only hit Nunn, but would hurt him, too.

The HBO punch computer said Kalambay was 0 for 9 when he went down. That was incorrect--Kalambay landed at least two punches.

“That shot was the perfect punch,” Dundee said by phone from Miami.

“Kalambay never saw it comin’, he was half-turned. The punch came right down the pike, like a left-handed pitcher throwin’ a curve. . . . Am I impressed with the kid? No, I’m astounded.”