By Perry Lefko
Champion boxer Brandon (Bad Boy) Cook is set for the biggest bout of his career, which has meant quitting his full-time job as a glazier working primarily in Mississauga, where he has been a fan favourite fighting at the Hershey Centre.
The 31-year-old Ajax resident is undefeated in 18 pro fights, 13 of them at the Hershey Centre, and will leave on Tuesday for Kazakhstan for a fight September 9 against two-time Olympian Kanat Islam, who is 32 and has fought 24 times, 14 by knockout.
The Kazak is rated number two in the world by the World Boxing Association in the Super Weltweight division (154 pounds). Cook is rated fifth.
In his last fight, Islam won the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Light Middleweight title and the vacant WBO-NABO Light Middleweight title.
In Cook’s last fight in January in Montreal, he won the vacant IBF North American Super Welterweight title 154-pound title while also retaining his WBA-NABA Super Welterweight title.
“This is the first fight I quit my job for,” Cook told Peel Region Review.
He had been working at Pro-Tech Glass Windows And Doors Limited, which is based in West Hill and does a good amount of its work in Mississauga.
“My boss is dying for me to come back and after the fight I might even go help him out a little bit working a couple days here and there for him because he’s been so good to me since I started out there,” Cook said
“After my last fight, we realized it’s only a matter of time before I got a really big fight…This is it: I win this fight I think we’re pretty much the number one contender for the world title. This is a big shot for me. I’m getting paid a pretty good amount of money for this fight, and if I win this that’s where the real money begins.”
This is Cook’s first fight outside of Canada, which has been good to him, but the prospect of bigger paydays required him to leave his home country.
“For professional boxing the real money is in the United States and other places obviously like Kazkhstan,” he said.
The event will take place in a stadium that could potentially have an audience of 15,000, at least three times the crowd in which Cook has fought. Proof of the magnitude of this fight is that Jimmy Lennon Jr., one of the top announcers in boxing, has been booked to be part of it.
“Everybody is usually screaming and yelling for me, but I figure they’re going to be screaming and yelling for (Islam),” Cook said. “To me, it’s not going to make a difference because they’re just yelling and screaming, especially because I won’t know the language. I’m not sure what’s going to happen. These guys just want to see a good fight and that’s what I’m ready to give. This is good exposure for me. People around the world will finally know who I am. No one knows who I am. The people who know who I am are in Canada. That’s why I’m going halfway around the world. It’s an opportunity to get a world title shot after this. That’s my plan. Hopefully somebody calls us out after. I’m not supposed to win because he’s ranked higher and they’ve put tons of money into this guy. They’re looking to get a world title shot for him. He’s got more experience, but when it comes down to who trains harder, that’s what’s I’m going to have to go through. I don’t think he trains as hard as I do. Especially now that I don’t work, I think that’s going to play a big part in this fight.”
Cook leaves with an entourage that includes manager Tyler Buxton, who along with partner Don McDonald own and operate Mississauga-based United Boxing Promotions.
“They were looking for someone who was willing to go to Kazakhstan to fight, and a lot of American guys don’t like leaving the U.S., but Brandon is willing to fight anybody anytime anywhere,” Buxton said. “The offer came to us and we were able to make it worthwhile going over there. It’s (Islam’s) backyard and the cards are stacked against us, but we were in Montreal in January and the card was stacked against us also and Brandon knocked the guy out. Going outside the Hershey Centre doesn’t bother Brandon.”
In addition to Buxton, Cook’s group will include his cut man, head trainer, strength and conditioning coach and a cameraman to record daily footage. It will be posted to Cook’s Facebook page Brandon “BadBoy” Cook.