It is perhaps a good thing that Brandun Lee did not pursue a career as a soccer player and instead kept up his family tradition by becoming a professional boxer.
At six-years-old Brandun was already getting kicked out of a soccer match for being too aggressive!
“They were playing soccer and I was playing tackle football,” says the 20-year-old Californian who can’t help but laugh at it all.
He wanted to show the other youngsters he was faster than them and stronger than them. An early indicator that the competitive spark was already apparent in him.
“I remember one time I tripped a kid or something and the coach told me, ‘Brandun, don’t do that again’. And then I remember I pushed another kid and he said ‘Brandun, don’t do that again’. And I remember I tripped another kid and he took me out of the game!”
Fourteen years later and Lee, trained by his father and managed by Cameron Dunkin, is carving out a quiet reputation for himself as a super lightweight prospect who is one to watch after 17 successful tests. Fifteen haven’t heard the final bell and while the competition may not have been up to much at times there was something electric about the way he won his last fight, a second round knockout victory over Nicaraguan Milton Arauz. A quick one-two culminated with a right hand that turned the expression of Arauz into one that looked like it had gone much longer than the two rounds on the record.
“I was very happy with it,” Lee says whose win came on a ShoBox: The New Generation telecast which was shown live on Showtime. It was Lee’s television debut, an impressive one too despite his eagerness to exchange wide open at times.
“I was definitely happy with the knockout. Of course there were some flaws in the two rounds that it went. This fight, we definitely fixed those flaws so they won’t happen again.”
The fight he now refers to takes place this Friday night on another ShoBox card, at the WinnaVegas Casino & Resort, Sloan, Iowa, against experienced Mexican Miguel Zamudio (44-15-1, 27 KOs), that’s forty-three fights more than Lee. Zamudio is clearly a step up having fought Javier Fortuna back in 2013 for the WBA Featherweight title. Fortuna got him out of there in one round and had already lost the title on the scales the day before. Zamudio has since mixed with the likes of Sharif Bogere, Will Tomlinson, Jamie Kavanagh and Jose Zepeda and has been fighting at 140lbs for two years.
“I need this [step-up],” says Lee.
“We’re definitely stepping up the competition. I can’t keep on fighting these people who aren’t that good and I can’t step up to the competition in the top ten just yet so we gotta take it one step at a time.”
“This is a long journey,” he added. “I could tell in my first ten fights, that really… my skill level wasn’t there. I was still adapting to the professional game, I was still learning and I’m going to continue to learn as my fights keep going. I think my last two or three fights is where I started to bring out about 20% of my talent. I still have a whole lot more that the world has not seen yet. Hopefully, one of these days, I can get a fighter in there who will bring that out of me and as I get on TV more and more the world will see more and more.”
Lee may only be 20 but the 17 fights he has racked up have come in just under three years since his pro debut as a 17-year-old. Throw in the 195 fights he had as an amateur and by the time the big tests come around he will be well schooled on styles, experience, stamina and rounds boxed.
Outside of boxing Lee, who is something of a food obsessive, is taking classes in criminal justice class and intro to ethics amongst others. Studying and a future career is a plan b that has been in his thoughts since he was 18. Boxing comes first but his studies will take him to one more semester at a community college before transferring to San Bernardino college afterwards. Lee thinks about the consequences of boxing. He’s seen the fighters who retire and end up broke and he knows of the lives lost in the sport, particularly last year. The number of fatalities forced his father to work on Lee’s defensive skills even more than normal. Lee may only be 20 but he’s growing up fast and is a far cry from the teenager who a couple of years ago said, “When I fight its play time” during a YouTube interview with EsNews.
“I was really young but my mentality has changed tremendously,” Lee says looking back on that quote. “I look back at the things I used to say and laugh at it. I think I have taken boxing more seriously because it’s not something to play with. It’s unfortunate with all the deaths that happened in 2019 because of boxing… it’s not something you can play with but I go in there and relax and if I can knock him out I can knock him out.”
At just 11-years-old Lee was described as a boxing prodigy by RING magazine after he had won three National Junior Golden Glove championships. Lee was extremely grateful for the compliment at the time but he wants to be known as a champion, or a title holder of a fringe belt that will see him move on to the steep ascent that awaits him inside the top ten at 140lbs.
“Slowly but surely everything will pay off.”