Brandun Lee’s mother is Mexican, his dad is Korean, and he was born in Yuba City.
If you played all the anthems, you’d probably miss his whole fight.
Lee has 21 pro fights and never has seen a fifth round. His only decisions have come in four-rounders. Thirteen times, Lee has ended things before he has heard a second bell. That’s fine with Bobby, his dad and trainer.
“When he goes with shorter fights, that takes my blood pressure down,” Bobby said.
Lee is yet another one of boxing’s Instagram warriors, a 21-year-old with the pop, the crackle and the click. On Wednesday night, Lee comes to Showtime’s Shobox series against Samuel Teah, 33, with a 17-3-1 record.
“He’s one of those professional veterans who knows the inside tricks,” Lee said. “He can use the shoulder, the head, the elbow. But as far as conditioning, I’m training for 12 or 15 rounds.”
Has boxing ever had so many dynamic, marketable man-children?
Teofimo Lopez is the unified lightweight champion already, demonstrating that all of Vasyl Lomachenko’s years of high-level experience just meant he was closer to his expiration.
Shakur Stevenson isn’t a champ yet, but he is requesting a dance with Oscar Valdez, who just finished pulverizing Miguel Berchelt. Considering both are Top Rank performers, that wish has a chance to come true.
Vergil Ortiz, maybe the best of the kids, goes after ex-champ Maurice Hooker in a juicy fight on March 20.
Edgar Berlanga never has needed to fight a second round. Then there’s Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, Boots Ennis, Elvis Rodriguez, and lots of network time to showcase each one.
A sport whose death has been anticipated for a half-century has a full pipeline, an abundant supply of young talent. Maybe one day, the demand will catch up.
Lee was a national champion when he was nine years old. His brother Jhong boxed until he was 15. Bobby studied every move that the trainers gave Brandun.
“I’m just on this roller-coaster,” he said. “I know it will stop someday.”
Bobby and his wife Laura would put Brandun and Jhong in the van and head to the Coachella Valley, or to Washington and Oregon, or to Las Vegas. They would arrive on Friday night, Brandun would weigh in on Saturday morning, and the van would head back to Yuba City, usually with another trophy or two.
“It’s hard work paying off,” said Brandun, who fights at 140, “but it was funny, the way I’d get named the best boxer in the whole tournament.”
Bobby did a seven-year apprenticeship in San Francisco to become an electrician. “Union local 1877,” he said.
Then he hired other electricians. He founded Thomas Electric, which had 69 employees, 39 vans, two offices and four warehouses.
“Biggest electrician company from Sacramento to Redding,” he said.
When he moved the family to La Quinta, Bobby moved Brandun into the boxing hotbed. But that wasn’t why.
“I’m too old for the cold weather,” Bobby said. “I want to enjoy my life, go to the casino if I want. I sold the company and I retired.
“Neither Brandun nor I have to do this. If he wanted to retire and live on the beach in Hawaii, that would be fine. I was poor growing up. I wanted to go to Berkeley but we couldn’t afford it. That hurt me. Brandun doesn’t have that problem. He has no excuses, but he doesn’t really have to do anything else.”
Still, Brandun takes classes at Cal State San Bernardino. He was a full-time student at College of the Desert. “It’s my Plan B,” he said. Eventually he could see himself as a customs agent.
Lee is tight with former champ Tim Bradley but his lodestar was Floyd Mayweather. “Not Money Mayweather,” Lee emphasized. “Pretty Boy Mayweather.”
Pretty Boy was a genius in the ring who punished featherweights and lightweights. “He was more aggressive, his counterpunching was outstanding, his mouth was outstanding,” Lee said. “He carried himself as if he was a boxer.
“Money Mayweather was more like a businessman. And when Mayweather fought Conor McGregor, that’s when I got off the train.”
Mayweather worked with his dad, too. Sometimes it works and sometimes it leaves the track. Brandun says he has no trouble separating Bobby the trainer from Bobby the dad.
“It’s different in the gym than it is at home,” he said. “Besides, I have been raised to realize that the student should always respect the teacher.”
The teacher wants Brandun to respect the opponent. “This guy (Teah) has been in there with champions, he’s got the grown-man strength,” Bobby said. “But Brandun knows the game.”
Yes. It’s not the stone that matters, it’s the step.
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