After tough loss, Cook looks to finish 2017 in style
United Boxing Promotions’ Tyler Buxton is a little tentative about Saturday, December 16.
On that night his top star, Brandon Cook, returns to the ring for the first time since his punishing loss to undefeated Kazak-Chinese star, Kanat Islam.
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m a little nervous about this fight,” Buxton said. “Some guys never recover from their first loss, we’ve seen lots of guys who don’t come back.”
Across the ring from him will be middling Argentinian fighter Hector Carlos Santana, who has gone 7-6 in his last 13 bouts. For Cook, it’s an opportunity to exorcise some of those demons, prove to himself that he can still be a top-level fighter and ready himself for whatever challenges 2018 is destined to bring.
“He’s excited to be home, he’s had a tough year,” Buxton said. “He has fought two legitimate top-10 guys in their hometown. He’s excited to be back at the Hersey Centre in front of his fans.”
Brandon Cook had the definition of a seesaw year in 2017.
In January, Cook travelled to Montreal to take on rising star Steven Butler in a grueling affair, one that Buxton says was actually harder on Cook physically than the Islam fight. Despite the odds, Cook came away with the knockout victory in that bout, capturing the IBF North American Super Welterweight title and defending his WBA-NABA Super Welterweight title.
Eight months later, he travelled to Kazakhstan to take on Islam in what proved to be another physical, punishing bout. Islam punished Cook often, something Buxton believes was brought on by a series of low blows.
“We knew the deck was going to be stacked against us, but they were paying American dollars and the offer was bigger than anywhere else,” Buxton said. “Did we expect to take so many low blows? No. The problem is when it’s over there and their referee, they’ll call it off as soon as they can.”
Cook was stopped in the ninth round, left to pick up the pieces after a disappointing loss.
With a win on Saturday and a little bit of luck, the route to a world title shot may not be as difficult as one would think. Islam is scheduled to fight Brian Carlos Castano for the WBA Super Welterweight championship in the first quarter of 2018. If Islam is victorious, he’ll be allowed to pick his first challenger from the WBA’s top 10. Among them, of course, is Cook.
“Brandon is ranked seventh in the WBA, with a chance to move up once Castano and Islam fight,” Buxton said. “I just want to see him get back in the win column, put his punches together.”
Cook is expected to win on Saturday night. He’ll want to do so in devastating fashion. A loss, or even a mediocre performance, could erase him from the world title conversation and remove him from the consciousness of boxing fans everywhere.
The loss to Islam could go one of two ways for Cook. It could be his peak, travelling across the world to challenge for a top spot in the WBA and never being the same. It could also be his greatest learning opportunity, something he grows from in his move towards a world championship.
We’ll have a better idea on Saturday which way Cook is going.