Boxer Brandun Lee started boxing at a young age, and his talent in the ring and with his fists made him a winner early on, and he’s only getting better.
You might not know it, but undefeated professional boxer Brandun Lee has one thing in common with Stevie Wonder, Pablo Picasso, and Bobby Fischer.
Like them, Lee was a child prodigy, but instead of playing piano, using a paintbrush, or mastering a chessboard, Lee excelled as a pugilist.
Growing up in the southern California town of La Quinta, Lee was immersed in boxing early by his father, Bobby, who still trains him today. Boxing wasn’t forced on Lee, but he took a natural liking to it. It wasn’t the aggression of it that appealed to Lee, but the process of mastering an art.
“So at the time, I was just a little kid eager to learn everything,” Lee told FanSided. “I was like, like a sponge ready to soak in all the information. And, you know, my dad was a real strict trainer. So whatever he said, I did.”
Bobby had a young, dedicated, and exceptionally bright pupil in his son. He built Lee up as a boxer piece by piece. Lee had his first amateur bout as an 8-year-old. He has shared a specific anecdote of his boxing start with numerous sources, but it’s fascinating to hear it every time.
When Lee started to competitively box, his father would only allow him to use his left lead hand. His right was off-limits. He shared his father’s training rationale with Boxing Social.
“Once I got the left hand down, then we got the right hand down,” Lee told Boxing Social. “It’s like putting a puzzle together, one piece at a time. Once that one piece is solid, then we move onto the next piece.”
It’s an unorthodox practice to carry into competition, but it worked. Lee won his first national title at 9 years old. Lee never questioned his father’s training methodology, but he hypothesizes that it did leave an odd lasting impact.
“Because, you know, for some odd reason, my left bicep is like three times the size of my right bicep,” laughed Lee while talking to FanSided. “I think just from the beginning, working my left arm nonstop this permanently made my muscle triple the size.”
Eventually, Lee’s right arm caught up with his left, at least in terms of proficiency. Lee won more national titles as a youth and the 2015 U.S. Jr. National Championship in his teens, amongst various other titles.
Lee finished off his amateur career with an impressive record of 181-9. Since his first triumph as a 9-year-old, winning in the ring became an addiction for Lee. He loved the feeling of being a winner. The crowds cheering his name and praising his performance added to his victorious euphoria.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID, the crowds aren’t at fights,” described Lee. “When hearing people cheer your name, hearing people scream the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs,’ that’s really something. It’s an experience that doesn’t describe words.”
Today, Lee is 21-0, with 19 knockouts as a professional in the junior welterweight division. With his 90 percent KO rating, it would be easy to attribute his success to a single element such as power, but that oversimplifies Lee’s talents.
Brandun Lee might be the biggest future threat to the current top-tier boxers in the junior welterweight division.
What made Lee a prodigy at 9 has evolved to make him a threatening prospect at 21 years old. His intelligence in and out of the ring sets him apart from other boxers. Even as a child, boxing with one hand, Lee learned the art of strategy and how to make calculated improvisations. He mapped out a mode of combat in his mind in a way that most fighters can’t.
“This sport, you need to play chess, not checkers,” said Lee. “You always need to be on your toes. You always need to predict what’s coming next. And you always need to be one step ahead of your opponent. So definitely, the ring IQ has played a big factor.”
Lee puts his skills on display on Wednesday, March 10, against Samuel Teah in the main event of Showtime’s series ShoBox: The Next Generation. His star is on the rise, and losing isn’t something he’s accustomed to. The last time he lost was in 2014, and that experience motivated him ever since.
“The last time I lost was back in 2014 at the National Junior Olympics, and that only made me push harder,” declared Lee. “I was going three times as hard in the gym. And every time I was doing conditioning or anything, I just kept thinking about that moment where my opponent’s hand was raised, and mine wasn’t.”
Teah (17-3-1, 7 KOs) is a solid veteran opponent, but there’s a good chance that he will be Lee’s 13th knockout win in a row when they fight at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Lee is working toward a world title shot and is keeping his eye on the entire division.
On May 22, undefeated champions Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez fight to fully unify the junior welterweight division. Lee will be watching as a fan but used his boxing intellect to predict the winner.
“Between those two, Josh Taylor,” predicted Lee. “He’s a southpaw, a good boxer. Has speed, good power. Light on his feet, good defense, and Jose Ramirez is one-directional with those body shots. He throws the same punches over and over. Left hook to the body, left hook to the head. One, two, one, two. So it’s kind of predictable.”
While Lee says he’s watching the fight as a fan, he knows that they have the titles he wants.
“Between the two, I think both will work with my style just fine,” said Lee. “Because you know, I box, and I can punch.”
Lee was a prodigy as a child, but he’s working towards completing the transition from prodigy to legend as a young man. He’s partway there, and with his focus, diligence, and intelligence, it’s not hard to imagine him as a future world champion.
Watch Brandun Lee vs. Samuel Teah in the ShoBox main event on Wednesday, March 10, on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.