Nick Kisner knew his first nationally televised fight was a bit of a reach.
The 24-year-old Glen Burnie cruiserweight lost a unanimous decision to unbeaten Lateef Kayode of Nigeria on Friday night in Memphis, Tennessee.
But Kisner and his trainer, father Danny Kisner, don't see the loss as a setback, but rather a step toward becoming a top professional fighter.
"Sort of my biggest fear came to fruition,'' said Danny Kisner of his son who was making the jump to a 10-round bout after having not fought beyond six rounds. "The first four rounds it was pretty clear that Nick held his own. But he was really gassed after the fifth round.''
Kisner showed his confidence, often taunting his more-experienced opponent in the first few rounds. He also showed his ability to take a punch, continuing his streak of never being knocked down despite taking some ample punishment in the middle rounds.
The Old Mill High graduate stuck with his plan to try to out-box Kayode (21-0). But Kayode dominated the mid and late rounds.
Kisner (14-2-1) lost on all three judges cards — 100-90, 100-90 and 99-91 – in the 10-round bout.
"We look at this as a good experience,'' Danny Kisner said. "It was a loss and a win because Nick got more experience from this one loss than he did in all of his 14 victories combined.''
Nick Kisner said he gained a good deal of confidence from the bout.
"It helped me mentally,'' Nick Kisner said. "Now I know I can go 10 rounds and I gained a lot of respect. I never had so many compliments in my life after a fight. From what I understand, I impressed a lot of people.''
Danny Kisner said the plan is to have Nick fight a few more mid-level contenders in 10-round bouts as early as September with an eye toward another prime-time fight.
"I'll come back in the fall,'' Nick Kisner said. "I've still got a heck of record, 14-2, with two respectable losses. If I were in my 30s, I might be discouraged or a little worried. But most cruiserweights don't hit their peak until their late 20s. I think I still have a huge, huge future.''
Kisner showed flashes of that future on Friday night.
"A lot of people thought he was going to knock me out by the fifth round,'' Kisner said. "There's no doubt he won the fight, but I thought I gave him a good fight.''
Kayode consistently stalked Kisner, who showed his Baltimore colors by wearing an Orioles baseball cap into the ring before the fight.
"After the fourth round, Nick was really exhausted,'' Danny Kisner said. "He was trying to save some energy knowing he had to go 10 rounds. I'm real proud of him and how he persevered. He sort of regained his wind after the seventh round; so he definitely was in good shape. There aren't any excuses. It's just tough to make that jump from six rounds to 10.''
Neither fighter landed a significant blow in an uneventful first round and Kisner stepped it up in the second round with an opening salvo and a good combination.
In the third, Kayode landed a big right and Kisner used his jab effectively.
Kayode picked up the pace significantly in the fourth with some effective hooks.
In the fifth, Kisner, who had never fought beyond six rounds before, had to shake off a low blow by Kayode.
Kayode scored with a big right hand in the sixth, continued to stalk Kisner in the seventh and scored with a strong over-hand right in the eighth.
In the ninth Kayode continued to press the action, scoring with several hooks and a right cross. The 10th was more of the same with Kayode also scoring with a couple strong body shots.
"Nick's in great spirits,'' Danny Kisner said. "The TV people say they definitely want to have him fight for them again; so all in all it was a great experience.''