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Rocchigiani Tops Nunn for WBC Title

March 22, 1998 GMT

BERLIN (AP) _ Germany’s Graciano Rocchigiani pounded American Michael Nunn over 12 rounds Saturday to win the WBC light heavyweight title in a close fight ruled a split decision by the judges.

Nunn landed far more blows against Rocchigiani, slipping jabs repeatedly through the German’s closed peek-a-boo defense in the bout for the title vacated by Roy Jones Jr.

But it was Rocchigiani, a former IBF super middleweight champion, who rocked Nunn with the harder punches, snapping the faster American’s head back during the in-fighting and on the ropes.

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``I thought I won the fight, but the judges saw it differently,″ said the disappointed Nunn. ``I landed more blows, probably three-to-one.″

The judges ruled the bout 118-111 and 115-113 for the German fighter and 116-113 for Nunn in a high-tempo fight that often had the 10,500 spectators roaring.

The record of Nunn, the former IBF middleweight and WBA super middleweight champion, fell to 52-4 with 34 knockouts. The WBC No. 1 challenger, he has now lost three straight title bouts.

Rocchigiani, the No. 2 challenger with a record of 40-4-1 and 19 knockouts, revived his career by winning the battle of 34-year-old left-handers. He had lost his last four title bouts, three of them controversially.

``This is special for me, being 34, and coming 10 years after my last title,″ said Rocchigiani, who won his IBF crown in 1988.

Nunn’s promoter, Dan Goossen, filed a protest with the WBC immediately after the fight, believing the German commissioners ringside had acted illegally. He said they slipped Rocchigiani’s corner the judge’s scores between rounds.

``It’s unheard of _ that’s an unfair advantage,″ Goossen said.

Rocchigiani, hit by a jab, bled from a cut above the eye during the second round of a match originally scheduled for April 7. The German pulled out of that fight with a flu.

Nunn taunted the German while leaning on the ropes during the round, standing with lowered hands, daring Rocchigiani to hit his head.

But Rocchigiani’s corner closed the cut, and the German began to catch Nunn with both lefts and rights when he forced the American onto the ropes during the middle rounds.

Neither Nunn, with his flurry of punches from outside, nor Rocchigiani appeared in danger of being knocked out.

``My people were telling me I was winning by five or six points,″ Nunn said. ``I just laughed when I heard the decision.″

Both Rocchigiani and Nunn weighed 174 pounds.