New Faces: Brandun Lee
Hometown: Coachella, California
Weight class: Junior welterweight
Height: 5-foot-10 (178 cm)
Amateur record: 196-5
Turned pro: 2017
Pro record: 10-0 (8 knockouts)
Trainer: Bobby Lee
Manager: Cameron Dunkin
Promoter: Now Boxing Promotions
Best night of pro career and why: Lee is most pleased with his performance, two fights ago, out-boxing Stephon McIntyre en route to a four-round unanimous decision.
“I felt like it looked like I matured a lot from my first fight, my second fight. It took me nine fights for it to show I’ve adapted to the professional fight game,” Lee told The Ring. “That (fight) did go the distance. The opponent was running around but I did drop him in the second round with a body shot.”
Worst night of pro career and why: Lee is open and honest with his assessment to the start of his career and feels it’s only recently when he’s stepped up to the next necessary level.
“I would say probably my first seven fights,” he said, “especially the first fight. I thought I’d just knock this guy out with one punch. I did knock (Christopher Johnson) out within (one round) but it’s the way you knock an opponent out that makes a difference.
“I went in there and just threw punches and I just looked like another regular fighter and that’s not who I am. I’m a Korean-Mexican fighter. How many of them do you see every day? I like to stand out.”
Next Fight: Lee makes his fourth start of 2018 when he faces veteran club fighter Jorge Luis Munguia, at the Mountaineer Casino Ballroom, New Cumberland, West Virginia, on Sunday, over six scheduled rounds.
Munguia (13-13, 5 knockouts) turned professional in 2012 and won 10 of his first 11 fights. However since then, the 29-year-old Honduran has lost several, including his last two.
Munguia has faced Zab Judah, Teofimo Lopez and Thomas Mattice, all of whom stopped him. Lee figures to do the same.
Why he’s a prospect: Lee had over 200 amateur fights, though never fought in the open division. He won the Junior Golden Gloves on four occasions, the Junior Silver Gloves three times and the Junior PAL five times.
He fought internationally in Mexico on a couple of occasions and was due to represent his country in Russia after winning the world tournament, which earned him a spot on the U.S team.
“My parents never let me go,” he said. “They didn’t want me to miss school, so I never got the chance to compete in St. Petersburg, Russia.”
Lee elected to sign a pro contract with well-respected talent spotter Cameron Dunkin in the fall of 2016 and debuted shortly afterward at just 17 years old.
“In the senior divisions at the national tournaments, they weren’t having headgear, so my father and I figured, if we’re gonna fight without headgear, I might as well turn pro and get paid for it.”
Lee has sparred a host of top fighters including Tim Bradley, Mikey Garcia, Maurice Hooker, Mauricio Herrera, Felix Diaz, Joel Diaz, Vergil Ortiz, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia.
He shook out with four-division beltholder Mikey Garcia for six rounds, while Garcia was on his hiatus from boxing.
“I feel like I hung in there with Mikey,” Lee said. “I’d barely turned 17. At the time he was probably 160 pounds; it was when he took a break. I did what I wanted to do and he did what he wanted to do.”
Lee also got useful work with the hugely talented prospect Haney.
“(Haney’s) one helluva fighter,” he said. “It was explosive sparring because he likes to throw fast punches and I like to throw fast punches. It was good work.”
Lee feels he has three key attributes as a fighter: “I’d probably say my defense is my number one aspect, then my foot movement second and then my jab, my left hand overall.”
His father Bobby trains him and feels there is a long way to go in their father-son journey.
“He’s real quick on learning things. Don’t get me wrong; he still has a lot to learn and I have a lot to learn. We’re learning every day; overall he’s doing pretty well,” said Bobby. “His strength is his straight punches and he has a great straight right hand; that’s his punch.”
Dunkin, who first saw Lee when he was 13 years old, believes his young charge will have huge potential, both as a fighter and at the gate.
“Brandun is a terrific fighter. He’s coming into his own now; he’s getting better with each fight,” said the manager-turned-promoter. “I think Brandun will be one of the figureheads of our company, Now Promotions, in the coming years.
“He’s extremely popular in the valley, where he’s from, and we’re planning to do events there in the coming months that will help make him a star.”
Why he’s a suspect: Lee appears well-rounded but lacks professional experience. He’ll certainly get that under the stewardship of Dunkin, who has guided 34 world champions in the past.
Lee appears ready to step up in class and move into six-round fights. It will be interesting to see how he continues to develop but he isn’t focusing on improving in just one area.
“Overall I need to improve everything,” said Lee. “I just turned 19 a few months ago. I’m still learning boxing, as the days go on. In boxing I found out early you never stop learning. There is always something you can improve and work on.”
The youngster is pleased with his transition from amateur to pros.
“Cameron Dunkin has done one helluva job guiding my career,” he said. “He’s given me all the right opponents to get used to the pro game. He’s building me up nice and slow but active at the same time and I just need to take one fight at a time and I feel the transition has taken me a while but once the training starts rolling, it rolls. The training’s rolling now, so I shouldn’t have a problem.”
Bobby Lee feels gaining experience is key to his continued development but is pleased with how his son’s career is mapping out overall.
“Right now everything is possible. Right now the only thing holding him back is his age,” explained the elder Lee. “He’s still a baby; he just turned 19 years old. Man strength compared to a kid, there’s no comparison. He can hit; he has power in both hands. He just needs to grow and become a man.
“Cameron is being patient with him becoming a man. Without Cameron, none of this would have been possible. We’ve been with him for a year-and-a-half or so and everything Cameron says is happening is happening. We’re very thankful and very loyal and humble for what Cameron’s done so far.”
Storylines: Lee was born in Yuba City, in Northern California, 30 miles north of state capital Sacramento. He is of Korean decent. His father was born in South Korea, while his mother is from the Bay Area.
Lee’s maternal grandfather was a trainer to two of Lee’s uncles, who boxed at a high level on the amateur scene in the 1970s and ’80s.
His father built a gym, which Brandun first visited when he was two years old. He spent much of his formative years there watching his older brother, whom, at one time, boxed. He had entered his first tournament when he was eight years old. By the time Lee was 13, he struggled to get fights.
“We used to go out on the weekend to fight and, in Northern California, boxing wasn’t as popular. There was only one or two shows on a Saturday,” he explained. “It took me about a month to clear out Northern California and nobody would want to fight me.
“Eventually we went to Central California and the same thing there. It took me a little longer because it’s bigger; it probably took me three months. We’d go down there every Saturday to fight and, after so long, nobody wanted to fight me.
“Then we went to Southern California and that took awhile. Southern California is the capital of boxing, worldwide. Since I look Chinese, the Mexicans used to tell my father, saying, ‘We’ll fight the little Chinese kid.’ I used that to my advantage, so I could get a fight and learn and use my skills.
“After a year or two, eventually I wouldn’t be able to get a fight, then we headed out to Arizona and, so long, couldn’t get a fight, Nevada, so long, couldn’t get a fight. Even went up to Washington and, so long, couldn’t get a fight. After so long, there was only national tournaments.”
Lee’s boxing hero is Floyd Mayweather Jr.: “I think he has an incredible story. He had I don’t know how many siblings sleeping in one room to becoming this almost-billionaire. That just shows hard work can get you anywhere in this world.”
Lee a girlfriend; he likes to go hiking and is a fan of limited edition sneakers.
June 22 – Rey Trujillo – KO 2
May 19 – Stephon McIntyre – UD 4
February 23 – Matt Murphy – RTD 3
December 15 – Kevin Cooper – TKO 1
September 23 – Anthony Crowder – KO 1
August 12 – Roy Garcia – TKO 2
July 29 – Donovain Battle – UD 4
June 1 – Jack Grady – TKO 3
March 31 – Seth Basler – TKO 1
January 28 – Christopher Johnson – KO 1
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