Michael Nunn won his first title Friday night.
Respect may take a little longer.
Nunn dominated Alex Ramos at The Country Club in Reseda, winning a unanimous 12-round decision and taking Ramos' California middleweight championship.
Ramos was given only one round on one of the three judges' cards while losing the title he had won in August by knocking out Fred Hutchings.
There were no knockdowns, nothing even close to one in a fight nationally televised by ESPN. This looked more like a bullfight as the 160-pound Ramos would charge Nunn again and again, only to wind up flailing away at the smoke-filled air.
Yet, before the evening was over, Nunn, fighting out of North Hollywood, was booed by some in the sellout hometown crowd of 900.
What gives? Nunn, ranked 10th by the World Boxing Assn., is 20-0 with 12 knockouts. He proved a master at dancing around the ring while peppering his opponent with enough shots to win every round.
Indeed, the 160-pound Nunn has won almost every round of every one of his fights with these tactics. So what did the crowd want?
Action. Punches. Blood. They wanted Gene Tunney, not Gene Kelly.
"We are not going to change his ability to move," said Bob Surkein, who discovered Nunn and put him in the ring back in Davenport, Iowa. "He's got to use what God gave him. He boxed beautifully."
Nunn's trainer, Joe Goossen, admits there is room for improvement.
"You're not going to find anybody stronger than Ramos," Goossen said. "Michael has proved he can beat them all. What the crowd was saying was that they want him to knock somebody out. I think he has proven he can beat anybody in the world. Now they want him to beat somebody up. We're working on it."
Said Nunn: "I'm working on getting more power into my shots. But believe me, if I was ever to get into trouble, I'd fight like a wild horse in a barn fire if I had to."
In the Ramos dressing room afterward, there was frustration. Ramos, who lives in Bell, fell to 26-5-2 with 20 knockouts.
"Alex tried to knock him out," said Jimmy Montoya, his manager. "About the eighth round, he got frustrated. He didn't give a damn. He told me, 'I told all my friends I'd knock him out, so now I have to knock him out.' That's what happens when you try to impress your friends."
Goossen shrugged off the criticism.
"There are a lot worse problems," he said. "The guy is 20-0 and just won a title. Who am I to argue with that?"
Ramos earned $12,500 for the bout, Nunn $7,500.
In the night's other fights: Featherweight Dino Garza of North Hollywood won his pro debut by taking a unanimous four-round decision over Russell Mosley (4-2) of Campo; middleweights Tino Leon (3-0-2) of Fresno and Tony Holt (1-1-1) of Long Beach fought to a four-round draw; lightweight Frankie Fazio of Mountain View improved his record to 11-4 with 3 knockouts by stopping Jorge Cazares of Blythe at 2:52 of the third round of a scheduled six-rounder, Cazares falling to 9-2-1.
Also: super-welterweight Terry Norris (4-0) of Campo won a unanimous four-round decision over Carlos Gutierrez (0-3-1) of Venice; middleweight Lang McGowen (3-1) of Los Angeles got his first knockout by stopping Mike Galarza (0-3) of Santa Maria at 55 seconds of the first round of a scheduled four-rounder, and heavyweight Orlin Norris (6-1) of San Diego won a unanimous four-round decision over King David Smith (13-27-5) of Los Angeles.