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Old Mill grad Nick Kisner steps into ring for first nationally televised fight

Nick Kisner says he's been dreaming of boxing in a title fight ever since he was old enough to toddle along to the gym with his father.

The 24-year-old Old Mill High School graduate will take a big step toward that goal when he fights in front of a national television audience for the first time on May 29. Kisner will be in the featured event on a seven-fight card for CBS Sports Network's "Main Event" in Memphis, Tennessee.

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It's an opportunity Kisner (14-1-1) hopes will push him toward fulfilling the dream that started when he first laced up the gloves as a 5-year-old amateur.

But it's an opportunity that Kisner's camp takes with a fair amount of angst.

He will be fighting unbeaten Lateef Kayode (20-0) in a 10-round bout for the North American Boxing Organization cruiserweight title.

Kisner has never fought beyond six rounds and has yet to step into the ring against this caliber of competition.

"Kayode is definitely a step up for me,'' he said. "It's a big fight, but I'm 100 percent confident.''

His confidence is what persuaded his father, trainer Danny Kisner, to accept the fight despite some severe reservations.

"It's the chance of a lifetime,'' said Danny Kisner. "We got the call in late March, and I wasn't sure Nick was ready. He said, 'Dad take the fight, I'm ready.' Every time I'm not sure about a fight, Nick comes through; so I took it.''

It's easy to see why dad was a little hesitant to send his son into the ring against Kayode even if the fight resulted in Nick Kisner's first five-figure pay day.

The Glen Burnie resident doesn't exactly have the professional resume of a typical prime-time fighter. Nick Kisner, an eight-time amateur national champ, has fought sporadically as a professional since turning pro at 18 and has never slugged it out beyond six rounds. His opponent has gone 10 rounds five times against a couple of one-time world contenders.

None of that bothers Nick Kisner, who is a full-time fitness instructor at Lights Out Gym in Columbia, where he also trains.

He thinks his style gives him a shot to pull off a big surprise.

"I'm kind of at the breaking point in my career," said Nick Kisner, who trains three hours a day six days a week to prepare for a fight. "This is my chance. They don't come along that often. I've worked too hard, and to give up at this point would be a shame. I asked for this fight. I'm ready. I know it's a step up, but I also know I'm going to shock a lot of people.''

His father says Nick's style puts him in prime position to pull off that shocker.

"My only apprehension is that it's a 10-rounder,'' Danny Kisner said. "But Nick isn't apprehensive because he is in the best shape of his life. I told him 'if you promise to bust your butt, I'll take the fight.' He's a gym rat; so the training comes easy to him. Styles make a fight and Nick has the right style to out-box this guy.''

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Nick Kisner might not have too many professional rounds under his belt, but he certainly has one of Maryland's best boxing pedigrees.

His grandfather, the late Max Kisner of Brooklyn Park, virtually revived professional boxing shows in Maryland when he launched Ballroom Boxing at La Fountaine Bleu in the late 1980s.

Danny Kisner kept boxing in the family. After a brief stint as a boxer, he turned his attention to coaching and now coaches a handful of amateur fighters in addition to his son.

"The entire family is real proud of Nick,'' said Danny Kisner, whose other son, Dylan, helps work Nick's corner during fights. "I've always said if my dad were alive, he'd have had Nick three title fights by now. Win or lose, it doesn't matter to our family. Nick is a great kid. He's never given his mother or me an ounce of trouble. This means the world to us.''

Danny Kisner said Nick is more of a pure boxer and his style could give Kayode, a slugger, fits.

"All the pressure is on him,'' Danny Kisner said of Kayode. "We've got nothing to lose. He's been on TV six times; we've never been on TV. I really think Nick is going to shock a lot of people. Sometimes you have to take a chance to make something happen. Nick has been a professional for five years and not much has happened for him. There just aren't that many good fight opportunities out there.''

Nick's last fight was March 28 when he won by unanimous decision. His lone loss was a split decision to Junior Wright in Chicago in July 2013.

Meanwhile, his opponent recently defeated a title contender and is ranked among the world's best cruiserweights.

Danny Kisner, originally thought the fight was a reach.

"If we win, I'll be the smartest guy around. If we lose, I'll be the stupidest,'' Danny Kisner said. "We're taking a chance, but I believe in Nick.''

And Nick certainly believes in himself. He says he's virtually guaranteed a world cruiserweight – one weight group below heavyweight – title shot if he beats Kayode.

"There's no doubt in my mind I can be a world champion,'' Nick said. "My whole dream ever since I can remember has been to be heavyweight champion.''

MAIN EVENT BOXING

May 27, 8 p.m., Memphis, Tennessee

Featured: Cruiserweights Nick Kisner (14-1-1) of Glen Burnie vs. Lateef Kayode (20-0) of Nigeria, 10 rounds in feature bout

TV: CBSSN

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