Brandun Lee drew worldwide attention with his highlight reel stoppage in his last bout. Jack Hirsch tells his story
THE spotless record of Brandun Lee only tells half the story. The son of a Korean father and Mexican mother has been perfect in his career to date, winning all 20 of his contests, 18 inside the distance. However, the way Lee has been protected is extreme even by the standards of moving a young boxer along carefully.
None of the Californian super-lightweight’s first 16 opponents had a winning record. Lee’s last four opponents Milton Arauz (10-1-1), Miguel Zamudio (44-15-1), Camilo Prieto (15-2), and Jimmy Williams (16-3-2) represented a substantial upgrade but were not exactly recognisable names.
However, when you consider that Lee is just 21, having turned pro at 17, it can be argued that he is progressing just fine.
Cameron Dunkin, who promotes Lee, certainly shares that thinking. “I have known him since he was 13 years old,” Dunkin tells BN. “I handled the career of Timothy Bradley and he used to rave about Brandun. The thing about Brandun is that he’s so young. We wanted him to get used to different styles and his dad just wanted him to learn.”
Bobby Lee trains his son but is also smart enough to not overextend his influence. He leaves all the business decisions to Dunkin who he has known for 20 years. Don Majeski rounds out the team as an advisor. “Everything goes through Cameron Dunkin,” he says. “It would be disrespectful of me to tell him how to do his job. We had many offers for Brandun to turn pro, but going with Cameron was the best move for us. Brandun was 17 when he started and was a boy fighting men. That is why we were unconcerned about the records of his opponents.”
Bobby idolised legendary martial artist Bruce Lee so much that he named his son after his (though the spelling of Brandon is different). The path to glory for Brandun was originally intended to have started in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but after consulting with Dunkin, the Lees scrapped those plans. The family’s discontent with the amateur programme also played a role. “We were number one in the USA when AIBA decided to eliminate the headgear” Bobby says. “That meant we might have to be forced to compete with cuts. Anyway, the purpose of the amateurs is to prepare you for the pros.”
Considering the delay to the Tokyo Games, Lee’s move might turn out to be a shrewd one. Young Lee is maintaining a hectic schedule as both a full-time fighter and college student while at Cal State San Bernardino, majoring in criminal justice.
“Ideally I would like to become a world champion, then when I retire work as a customs agent or for the FBI,” Brandun explains. “I want to be a role model, make a statement for Asian youth who I feel are being discriminated against.”
Lee is fully aware that having the platform of being a world champion is imperative for him to get the influence he craves. Lee’s potential to achieve that goal was on display in his most recent outing in October. At Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, he blitzed New Haven veteran Williams in one round of a fight that was televised on ShoBox.
The stoppage was sensational. The footage of it went viral. Williams’ motivation was questioned, but the bottom line is that It was only the second time in 22 fights that he had been halted.
Negotiations are currently taking place to bring Lee back to the ShoBox platform again against an opponent who can provide sterner opposition. Lee says he is more than ready for the task: “I have gotten great sparring in the gym against outstanding fighters like Thomas Dulorme, Omar Figueroa, and Israel Madrimov. It had me focused for the Williams match. Mentally my plan is not to start too fast or slow, but to destroy what is in my way.”
Because the plan thus far has been for Lee to perform under the radar while he gains experience, he’s been fighting in numerous venues in America and Canada but the long-term goal that father and son have is to honour their heritage by boxing in South Korea, hopefully with a title on the line.
“We are now ready to box anyone in the top 20,” says Bobby.
It was spoken like a dad who acknowledges that his son is now grown up and ready to chase his dream without a curfew in place.