It is hard to believe that the year was 2007 when I first met with Tyrone “Young Gun” Brunson, a then 22-year-old Jr. Middleweight from North Philly who was on a mission to break the world record for scoring most consecutive first round knockouts. Read the 2007 interview here http://phillykeith.com/?p=112
A year later, Brunson surpassed former world champion Edwin Valero on March 8, 2008 when he quickly dispatched Francis McKechnai in a Michigan ballroom to become the first fighter in boxing history to score 19 consecutive 1st round KO’s.
It can be said that breaking this mark brought more harm than good. Becoming the KO king did not bring in big time promotional offers or large figure sponsorship opportunities. Instead, Brunson was criticized for the quality of opponents after the his name was etched in to the record books.
After “the well went dry” people started to disappear and Brunson considered walking away from the sport he picked up as a 9-year-old at the ABC Gym on 26th & Master Streets,
In 2016, Brunson (22-6-1, 21 ko’s) says he is focused again and seems honest in his desire to become a world champion. This time around, he speaks of earning the money, power and respect that comes along with being a champion, and aims to do it the proper way.
It has been a long, interesting journey for the now 31-year-old Philly fighter. Take a couple of minutes to read and drop a comment when complete.
Philly Keith: Thanks for joining us Tyrone, let’s get into telling the people what you have coming up next.
Tyrone Brunson: I’m fighting this Saturday July 9th at the Sun Bank Arena in Trenton, New Jersey. I’m fighting Joshua Okine who is 28 – 7 – 1 with 17 knockouts.
I’m ready to go put on a show for the fans, I’m in great shape, had a great camp and I am ready to go out and perform now. It’s an ESPN show.
[Editors Note: the fight was cancelled at the weigh-in. Sources say Okine did not pass the physical.]
PK: What do you know about your opponent?
TB: Not too much, he is a last-minute replacement. I was supposed to fight someone else but he didn’t accept the fight so Joshua was up next. I know he has a pretty good record, he fought Christopher Pierson and a couple others with good records. This will be a good fight for me to step up to show that I can beat the guys on that level.
PK: Who does Team Brunson consist of these days? Where are you training, who is your trainer?
TB: Zahir Justice from Fast Lane, I’m with those guys. I have a good team around me, good conditioning coach, good everything now. I am more mentally focused again and got my hunger back for the game again.
PK: Last time I saw you on TV was the Dennis Hogan fight. Many thought you won but the decision didn’t go your way. What are your thoughts on that fight?
TB: I thought it was 6 rounds to 4 my way. I think I boxed his brains out. I didn’t have a promoter or manager backing me then so I was going against the odds. I pretty much knew if I didn’t know him out that they would rob me.
PK: I think the public point of view you came out ahead. Everyone knew who won. What is your mentality after you put your heart and soul into preparing for a fight to have it turn out like that?
TB: I’ll take the bitter with the sweet, man. It is what it is. I have to thank God because he gave me the opportunity to come back and show that I’m still here after all of these years. Even with the losses that I have, I haven’t lost to anyone that wasn’t .500.
My last fight was Caleb Plant. Nobody wanted to fight him, I’m a natural 54 pounder, he walks around at 68-70 and I did great with him. He was knocking guys out.
PK: What weight is the fight this weekend?
TB: It is at 156
PK: You have been at this weight naturally for a long while – do you still feel comfortable there?
TB: I feel great at this weight, man! I walk around at 65, maybe 70 but I come right back down. Making weight has never been a problem because I’m not a big eater like that.
PK: So you’re down at Fast Lane Boxing Club (54th & Jefferson St, West Philly) now. They are developing a nice team down there.
TB: Oh Yeah! Ice Cold, Naim Nelson, you have to watch out for Zahir Justice little son who is only 15. He is a monster.
PK: Brooker has been doing good, Philly Fats has done a good job. It seems like you are a veteran presence down there. Do any of these young guys ever lean on you for advice at all?
TB: Oh Yeah. They always asking me questions and look up to me because I’ve been on the big stage before. My last 6-7 fights have been on TV. They ask for advice and I always give it.
I like helping the younger guys out who are coming up and not to make the mistakes I made in the game.
PK: What is a piece of advice you would give to a young fighter coming up who might think he is the biggest thing in boxing because he is undefeated and coming up through the ranks?
TB: Don’t get too big-headed.
PK: Do you see that a lot?
TB: Yeah, and I tell them – I was 21- 0 and on top of the world. Then when I lost everything and everyone around me vanished. You can have it one minute but it can be gone in a second.
PK: You’re still a young man but you’ve experienced more than most. There is also still a lot left for you to do. With that in mind – how do you look at your division and are there any specific fights that appeal to you?
TB: Right now I’m just working my way back into the mix and starting Saturday is a piece to that. As far as who am I looking at now? No one is on my radar, I want to get a couple of good, competitive fights, get back on the winning side then step up to a nice contender or fight for a USBA or NABF title.
It’s my time now and I’m mentally focused again. When I’m like this I don’t think anyone can beat me.
I want to shout out J-Rock (Julian Williams) because is holding the division down right now for Philly and he is next up. He has a bright future, him and Breadman.
PK: What do you think of the Philly boxing scene as a whole these days?
TB: I’m the type of guy if you see me on Facebook I try to give Philly their credit even if they can’t fight I still give them credit. If you can make it out of this city, doing something other than sell drugs or robbing, that is a blessing. I wish everybody the best.
I also know that not everybody is going to make it. As long as you keep grinding and pray, you will be ok. That and work hard.
PK: I see Philly turning the tide a bit. There was a long funk but now Sosa got a big win, J-Rock is on the verge of some big things, I think better days are to come.
TB: I love Tevin Farmer, him and Ice Cold (Christopher Brooker) motivate me. Tevin motivates me in the sense with the record that he has, with the losses, he still can do it. He turned it around.
Ice Cold motivates me in the gym because he works so hard. He pushes me to work the extra mile too.
PK: I know you’ve been around all of the gyms in the city since you were young. What would you say Fast Lane brings to the table that might be new or different from what you’ve seen in your years?
TB: That conditioning! They have a hell of a conditioning system.
PK: That is interesting. I’ve seen and heard debates on the how relevant the strength and conditioning coach is in boxing. What are your thoughts on that?
TB: Back in the day they didn’t use them – but times have changed. These guys come up with new methods to make the athlete breath longer, expand his wind up and get stronger. I think it is good.
I love what Danny Davis is doing, I love what Zahir is doing. I love what Fats is doing because they are helping athletes push their bodies to the extra step. That is what some fighters need. Like me, I never lifted weights a day in my life. Now they got me on the weight program and I’m feeling much stronger and much more aggressive.
PK: Do you feel that you have to make a statement in this fight or is any win a good win here?
TB: No, no, no – I gotta make a statement here! A lot of people have counted me out and don’t think I can do it on this level. They gotta to remember that I come from a gym of nothing but world champions.
Fred Jenkins has more champions than anyone in this city. He is a Hall of Fame trainer. That is who taught me my craft.
Me, coming up poor and not really having nothing, being undefeated, I had gotten a little big-headed. God had to humble me. As he humbled me I took some losses because I wasn’t focused.
Now I’m back, ready to show the world and get rated and fight for one of these titles.
PK: To rewind a bit, how did you first get into boxing? How did it all start?
TB: It started at the age of 9 at ABC. It came from my cousins who were top amateurs in the city. I used to tell everybody I boxed but I wasn’t really boxing. But then I got in trouble at school and my step dad put me on punishment. He said the only way I can get off punishment is if I go to the gym every day and work out.
I went to ABC gym, worked it out and it stuck with me. I was under Fred’s guidance until I turned pro. Fred is still there for me if I need anything like advice, he is still there.
PK: What was your biggest challenge as a young guy coming through the ranks knocking everybody out and had everybody was kissing your butt? Anything in hindsight you could have done differently?
TB: If I could do it differently I would have gotten more rounds in instead of going for them knockouts. I would have gotten more rounds in.
I was thinking that I was getting my experience in the gym. I came up boxing guys like Randy Griffin, Anthony Thompson, Zahir Raheem, Willie Gibbs, Rasheem Brown, David Reid, Robert Allen, guys like that.
PK: That was an incredible group of talent at that time
TB: I was around to soak it all up. I was watching those guys and boxing those guys. Like Rockin’ Rodney Moore. At the tail end of his career I was just coming in the gym. I got a chance to see how he trained and how he worked. Same with Calvin Davis and a lot of other guys. Saeed Hawkins, we had a hell of a team.
PK: That’s a name I haven’t heard in a while. He was good.
TB: I don’t think Saeed lost in Philadelphia in 10-11 years before he retired.
PK: The talent in this city could make your head spin. How many years have you been a pro now?
TB: 11 Years, I’m 31 and how I feel now – it is my time now. God don’t make no mistakes. Everything that happened in my career happened for a reason to get me where I am today. I could have retired and said forget boxing, but every time I had that thought God brought me back.
There were times when I was upset at how my career was going but I kept my faith. That’s why I am here today and fighting on this level again.
PK: How close were you to hanging them up after all that happened in your career?
TB: Plenty of times, plenty of times. I tried to get a job but nothing was ever coming through for me so I went back to what I know and that is boxing.
PK: Now here you are again, big fight, Trenton New Jersey, big stage on ESPN – you’re still in there, man. I was happy to see your name pop up I just heard of this fight the other day.
TB: Oh yeah. I may not fight for a while because I’m the type of guy who waits for those phone calls to come in. I don’t have a manager or nobody backing me so I gotta wait for a phone calls. It is my pick to take the fight or what not.
Now I just deal with Marshall Kaufmann and Kings Promotions. This is my debut on his card.
PK: Kings Promotions seems to be taking over. It is like they have fights three, four times a month all over the country
TB: And they are all on TV like SPIKE and Bounce. He is doing his thing, shout out to Marshall.
PK: I’m glad to see you landed on your feet, it seems like a good situation. Anything you want to say to wrap it up?
TB: I want to thank everyone who did stick with me and support me when the well went dry because there were some people who did stick around. I appreciate them. I appreciate the fans who are still rockin’ with me.
Come out on July 9th, if you can’t you will definitely hear about it. I’m not going out with a loss – by any means necessary. I’m bringing home a win.
PK: There you have it from Tyrone Brunson, I really appreciate your time.
TB: Thank you very much Keith!