For Ajax, Ontario’s Brandon Cook, however, it’s clear after just one professional fight, he already has the heart of a champion.
Cook (1-0) made his pro debut this past Saturday night at Mississauga’s Hershey Centre, against tough Quebecer Francis Lafreniere (0-2-1), and came away not as a fresh-faced rookie with an already bloated resume and everything still to prove, but rather as a battle-tested warrior clearly willing to truly fight his way to the top.
The fight couldn’t have started any better for Cook, whose first professional punch – a right hand high on Lefrenier’s head – resulted in a knockdown, and, as it turned out, the final margin of victory.
What ensued, however, was more a crash course in perseverance and guts than the
gentle first step of a lengthy matriculation.
After Cook controlled the first round, it was Lafreniere – trained by former world champion Otis Grant – who took charge, battling back hard in rounds two and three, scoring well repeatedly to Cook’s body and head.
But in the fourth round, with the fight up for grabs, a bloody but unbowed Cook dug-in. The junior middleweight – who sold more than 400 tickets to the event on his own – spent the fight’s final three minutes in beast mode, rocking Lafreniere repeatedly with both hands to earn the 39-38, 38-37, 37-38 split decision win.
“Lafreniere was a tough way to start a pro career. With Otis in his corner, you know he’s well schooled. And he came here to win,” said Cook’s promoter Tyler Buxton.
“But it’s easy to see how Brandon sold so many tickets. He’s super exciting in the ring, and he clearly won’t be denied. And who doesn’t love those attributes in a fighter?”