Graciano Rocchigiani vs. Michael Nunn
1998-03-21 : Michael Nunn 175 lbs lost to Graciano Rocchigiani 175 lbs by SD in round 12 of 12
- Location: Max Schmeling Halle, Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin, Germany
- Referee: Daniel Van de Wiele 111-118 113-115 116-113
- WBC Light Heavyweight Title (Vacant)
In early 1998, the WBC light heavyweight title was relinquished by Roy Jones Jr., who planned to move up to heavyweight. Jones signed to fight former heavyweight champion James (Buster) Douglas for the International Boxing Association heavyweight title on May 2, 1998 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
On March 21, 1998, WBC #1 contender Michael Nunn fought #2 contender Graciano Rocchigiani for the vacant light heavyweight title. Rocchigiani won by a split decision and was declared the new champion.
Meanwhile, Jones changed his mind and backed out of the Douglas fight. His father convinced him to stay at light heavyweight, telling him he was "risking his life" by fighting Douglas.
In June 1998, the WBC stated that Jones was the "champion in recess" and Rocchigiani was the "interim" champion. The WBC said its references in promotions and contracts to the Rocchigiani-Nunn fight as a championship bout, and to Rocchigiani as the champion, had been typographical errors.
Jones and Rocchigiani were scheduled to fight in Biloxi, Mississippi on November 6, 1999. However, promoter Murad Muhammad called off the bout because Rocchigiani didn't attend a press conference in New York. Muhammad said he couldn't promote a bout with Rocchigiani if he didn't cooperate. The WBC subsequently stripped Rocchigiani outright.
Rocchigiani sued the WBC and was awarded $31 million in lost earnings and other damages by a New York court in April 2003. The court also retroactively restored Rocchigiani’s official WBC light heavyweight championship status, but only from March 28, 1998 (when he defeated Nunn) to April 15, 2000 (when he lost to Dariusz Michalczewski).
The WBC filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after the judgement. A year later, the WBC announced they planned to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, which usually leads to the liquidation of a company. They withdrew plans to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy when they reached an agreement with Rocchigiani in August 2004. Terms were not disclosed.