The sport of amateur boxing as we know it is changing, and Parksville’s Brandon Busby is part of a new wave of up and coming fighters who are benefiting from a shift in philosophy that by all accounts has raised the bar.
On May 11 Busby, 21, climbs through the ropes for an elimination bout. The winner earns a shot at the B.C. super-middlewight title.
The event is hosted and sanctioned by COMBSPORT, the new face and the new direction for amateur boxing, and not only in B.C. Started in this province in 2009, COMBSPORT (Comb being short for combat) has been accepted by Washington State amateur boxing, by Ontario amateur boxing, and it looks like Boxing Canada is going to take them on.
COMBSPORT has invited Boxing BC to join forces, but Boxing BC has declined.
Brandon, six feet, 168 pounds, goes into the fight as the top-ranked super-middleweight amateur in B.C. His opponent, Kalic Taylor from Surrey’s Ocean City Boxing, is undefeated at 6-0 and the current middleweight champion, moving up a class.
Busby’s record going in is 5-1 and he’s unbeaten in his last three bouts since joining LeStage Boxing.
According to local boxing trainer/manager Richard LeStage, the B.C. super-middleweight title became vacant, so COMBSPORT decided to take the top four boxers in that class and have a fight-off for the provincial title. The two winners were supposed to meet in June, but that changed when one of the boxers backed out, leaving three.
The winner of this weekend’s fight will face Dave Robinson out of North Burnaby Boxing for the title in June.
As for the obvious question, which is why are the top two seeded fighters squaring off in the elimination bout, LeStage said it was “because I wanted the first fight in May. We didn’t want the bye,” he said, adding, “it’s getting harder and harder to find fights for (Busby) anyway, so we’re going to take any opportunity.”
Busby fights this Friday at Cascades Casino in Langley as part of a 12 fight card in a 7 p.m. start.
“Brandon’s been doing really well — he’s improving fast,” LeStage said of the lone amateur on the team, pointing to the benefits of sparring with pro stablemate Aubrey ‘Bam Bam’ Morrow.
“Bam Bam being in the same weight division has him … it’s been good for Brandon,” said LeStage. “He’s learning a lot being in there with Aurbrey. Aubreys a very solid super-middleweight. He’s got a lot of speed and a lot of power, and that’s what Brandon’s been sparring with for this fight, and improving quickly.”
Morrow, who is 5-1 as a pro with four KOs, has his sights set on another fight down the road, but the focus this past month “was to help Brandon get ready for his upcoming fight. That was the focus.”
As an amateur, Bam Bam sparred with some big names from the local scene.
Former Canadian super middleweight champion Mark Woolnough, and an up and coming young heavyweight named Shane Andreesen, have all sparred with Morrow.
“Aubry did the same thing,” chuckled LeStage, conceding, “it’s not easy, but I think there’s a bit of confidence that comes with knowing the guy you spar with three nights a week nobody else in B.C. can touch him.
“The calibre you’re sparring with is so much higher then the opponent you’re facing … you know you’re going into these fights ready for whatever they throw at you.”
Brandon, said LeStage, “doesn’t train like an amateur fighter anymore, he prepares himself like a professional. He fights a professional style and he spars with professionals.”
And that, he said, “is the one thing about COMBSPORT over Boxing BC is that they’re letting the guys box like professionals. It’s not just based on a points system, not computer scoring, it’s based on the way boxing should be scored, and fought the way boxing should be fought.”
COMBSPORT, he pointed out, has had 14 shows this year to Boxing BC’s “what, one or two … It’s teaching these guys to be boxers, not to be fences with gloves on.”
“Absolutely,” Genesis Boxing and Fitness head trainer Rick Rae confirmed when asked if the new direction of amateur boxing has raised the bar for young boxers.
“It is and it isn’t,” he said when asked if that’s good news for the dedicated young boxers that turn out regularly at his gym, “because if you touch COMBSPORT you’re out of Boxing BC for a year … as coaches, we’re hoping to see them come together.”
In the meantime, how serendipitous for the sweet science that LeStage and his boxers are now training at Genesis.
Either way, the mood around the gym is upbeat as the journey of another talented local boxer unfolds.
“I’m very confident in Brandon going into this fight,” said LeStage. “I don’t see this fight ending any other way than with Brandon with his hand raised, whether this guy is laid out on the canvas or weather he’s still standing, at the end of the fight Brandon’s got his hand raised.”
IN OTHER NEWS
‘Shotgun’ Shane Andreesen is booked to bang on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights June 29 against an opponent to be named.
ACCORDING TO www.fightcity.ca.,the word COMBSPORT is an amalgam of the official name ‘The British Columbia Combative Sports Association.’ The association has been put together by a group of individuals, boxing clubs and martial arts clubs that are looking for a new pathway that recognizes the diversity of combative sports.