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Brandun Lee: Ingredients

Brandun Lee was likely one of the most active fighters in 2020, having fought four times.

The quartet of contests never saw the 21-year-old super-lightweight contender go beyond the third round. But to be so busy while others never made it to a boxing ring because of the Coronavirus makes Lee extremely thankful to his manager, one of the best in the business, Cameron Dunkin.

Lee’s 2021 campaign kicks off tonight at the Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, against Liberian-born Samuel Teah. Both Lee and Teah have fought the same number of times. Lee is unbeaten in 21 starts while Teah has lost three times (one draw) in his seven-and-a-half-year career. It is thought that the 33-year-old will test Lee, which is something that the Californian needs.

“I know he’s a veteran. I know he’s beat several prospects. I know he’s beaten the odds several times and I expect him to bring the best out of me,” said Lee during a Zoom call with Boxing Social last week.

“I believe he’s going to bring out all my abilities, all my skills, my defence because the boxing world has only seen one side of Brandun Lee – the punches. They haven’t seen the other side so I’m looking forward to that.”

If you were to compile a list of up-and-coming contenders who would eventually make the grade, then Lee would be on most. It’s long been thought that the food obsessive (Korean, Thai, Mexican etc) who one day plans to make a second career for himself in criminal justice will win a world title sooner rather than later. His fight against Teah is for a fringe title. It will be the first ever bout in Lee’s four years as a pro that a belt will be on the line. However, the reward will come from the International Boxing Organisation (IBO) rather than from the usual governing bodies. Boxing Social asked Lee why he is going down this route that may be of surprise to some.

“Just because all the greats have had the IBO in the past. James Toney, Anthony Joshua, GGG among other people. I feel like it’s a belt that’s kind of been forgotten about unfortunately because once upon a time it was a praised belt.”

That is an answer which would likely bring up debate amongst some fans, but Lee has to get his foot on a ladder and aims to win the full IBO title at 140lbs by the end of the year. Just three months ago another leading contender, at welterweight, Jaron Ennis fought for an IBO world title against Chris Van Heerden. And while the fight ended in a no decision because of an accidental headbutt in round one there appears to be a desire to win IBO titles nowadays.

Many more titles may fall Lee’s way in the future. He told Boxing Social that next year he plans to go after “Mario’s WBA title”. Mario Barrios, that is. A 26-0 super lightweight who holds the WBA’s ‘Regular’ title at the weight. And, in 2022, Lee plans to be holding one of the four recognised titles that we are more accustomed with.

Lee’s motto is to take one fight at a time. A familiar phrase if you read boxing features or watch interviews. But his views on what happens once a fighter does become a world champion reveals a young man with a brain between his ears and who has watched how the sport has developed over the years outside of the ring.

“I feel like once you get to a certain level it’s not about the belts any more it’s more about money. Unfortunately, that’s what it is. It’s business,” said Lee. “I believe that when you become top dog like Canelo you become more of a businessman than a boxer. It’s like [Floyd] Mayweather transitioned from ‘Pretty Boy’ to ‘Money’. Once he became ‘Money’ Mayweather he became a businessman and everything had to make sense, the dollar had to make sense. You can fight four times if the dollar makes sense.”

The four times he refers to is because Boxing Social asked him if there is a responsibility on the star names to fight more than once or twice a year. Lee, who is at contender status, fought on four occasions last year as we know and hopes to repeat that feat this year.

“I think after this fight I may have two or three more fights so four fights are possible. But what I do know is I fought in October, I fought in December and now I’m fighting again. I’ve really been in camp, camp, camp. So, I may take two weeks off after this fight rather than the normal one week like I usually do just to let the body rest and heal and recover because, like I said, I’ve been in camp, camp, camp.”

Lee speaks like a man beyond his years. He knows what the fans expect of him, what he expects of himself and the sacrifices that come with it. Camp life means no life outside of it. It’s not a burden, it doesn’t bother him, he signed up for this experience a long time ago and doesn’t have any regrets. But he did give an insight into what can happen when a fighter is just starting out as a child like he did.

“I know for a fact that when you’re a child and you’re boxing you don’t really have a childhood. Halloween, you’re very limited [to what you can eat]. Personally, one year, I had a tournament that started in November. Halloween is in October so I could only eat five pieces of candy when I had this whole big bag of candy. Only five pieces! Christmas, of course, we did gifts but Christmas dinner… well, there was no Christmas dinner because I needed to make weight. Even now with my girlfriend of six years we have to skip downtime because I’m in camp. I missed her Senior Prom so there’s a whole lot of sacrifices, but it comes with the sport. This is the sport I chose. This is what I chose to do for a living. It comes with the sport.”

And as far as tonight is concerned, his fight against Teah, this is what we can expect according to Lee.

“You should expect fireworks. Like I said, this guy should bring out the best in me. I’ll give the people what they want. People want knockouts, that’s what I’m here for and they’re saying he’s a veteran, so I want to see it.

“There’s a whole lot more still to come. Like I said, they’ve only seen one side, my punching power and somewhere in the safe I have all the secret ingredients in the back.”