Exclusive Interview With Burley Brooks: “None Of My Favourite Fighters Went Undefeated”

By James Slater - 07/31/2023 - Comments

Burley Brooks of Dallas, trained by Derrick James, turned pro back in March of 2019. Brooks won his first six fights, yet he was carrying a hand injury. Two close decision losses followed (Brooks dropping a split decision to Marco Delgado and a UD to Cameron Sevilla-Rivera), before Brooks, after boxing a return draw with Sevilla-Rivera, endured a 22-month layoff.

The 27 year old return in style in June of this year when he won a wide decision over former IBF super-middleweight champ Caleb Truax. Now injury-free and feeling “new” and “fresh,” Brooks is looking to build on his momentum with another step up fight in September.

Here, Brooks, 7-2-1(5) kindly takes the time to speak with ESB, telling us why an unbeaten record is not the most important thing in the sport.

Q: First of all, belated congratulations on the big win over Caleb Truax. I know it’s a month ago now. That was a big upset you scored.

Burley Brooks: “Yeah, I felt good. I was happy about the win. My performance, I didn’t really have too much time to prepare, but I was definitely happy with the win. I know I’m definitely gonna come back [even] better next time.”

Q: You had been out of the ring for 22 months prior to the win over Truax. How did that affect you?

B.B: “With the layoff, I was also having hand trouble, that was a big part of the layoff. And the Covid, too. It was tough coming back, it felt like it was all new again. And the fight was in his home town, with everybody booing me. And it was my first time fighting a ten rounder.”

Q: You’re still a young guy at age 27, and you potentially have a whole lot ahead of you. You’ve already had an up and down pro career, with a couple of close/debatable decisions going against you. Do you feel like you are an unbeaten fighter in a sense?

B.B: “Yeah, I feel like I’m undefeated. Those fights that I lost, those were just experience fights and I feel I beat myself in those fights. Even though I think I was robbed, I always look at myself like I could have done better. And I was fighting those guys with one hand, I had a broken hand. I had my pro debut with a broken right hand. So I was limited. I was knocking everybody out with my left hand. Going into the Truax fight, I was saying to myself, ‘I’m 0-0 right now. This is supposed to be my first fight.’ [For the first time] I came in with no injuries, everything felt good, I had no shoulder trouble or hand trouble. Going into the fights I lost, even though I was injured, I believed I’d win because the guys I’d beaten in my amateur career, they were better fighters. I felt I could come in and still be a lot better than those guys even with the hand injury.”

Q: Do you feel like too much is made of unbeaten records in boxing today?

B.B: “Yeah, and it takes a lot of pressure off now, with me having lost. At first, I had a lot of pressure, with people putting me on a pedestal. Now, I feel like I’ve learnt a whole lot, not just in boxing, but outside the ring. Now I know what to accept and what not to accept. I feel like I have an old-school style of fighting. None of my favourite fighters went undefeated. And I feel like my record may make some fighters overlook me. I like having the underdog instinct coming in.”

Q: And who are some of your favourite fighters?

B.B: “Well, Bernard Hopkins, who lost his pro debut. James Toney, Gerald McClellan – he lost two on the way up – Lamont Peterson, Riddick Bowe, Lennox Lewis, Zab Judah. I can go on.”

Q: Is there any news yet on your next fight?

B.B: “I think it’s September. It might be a step up, it might be a step up after the win over Caleb Truax. I’ve been in the gym every day since that fight. I was back in the gym working on the Monday after the fight. I feel like I’m just getting started. I feel new, I feel like I’m still learning. I feel fresh. But at the same time, I also feel kind of like a veteran already, but with a new chapter; a new chapter with a lot of experience.”

Q: You are in a kind of unique position, being, say, a veteran but also a young, fresh guy at the same time…...

B.B: “Yeah, I feel that way.”

Q: Can I ask you about your amateur record.

B.B: “My record was 73-8, I was ranked number-four in the country. I fought all manner of styles. I seen all styles. During that time, I was also one of the main sparring partners for Errol Spence and Jermell Charlo. I came into the amateur game and they wanted me to stay amateur and fight in the Pan Am Games and try and make the Olympic team in 2020. But I talked to Errol and we decided I wanted to turn pro. But I came into the amateur game taking guys out by surprise. A lot of my amateur fights were knockouts. I was knocking guys out and I made a name for myself just out of nowhere. I know I’m tough, I know I’m strong, and I know I’m a good inside fighter.”

Q: It must be great working in the gym with Spence and all the guys, with Derrick James training you all?

B.B: “It’s great discipline. I’m real disciplined, being around Errol and Jermell. I’ve never seen Errol miss weight; I’ve never seen Jermell miss weight. Derrick’s a real smart guy, he teaches us a lot. I always want to represent the whole team, so I come in always disciplined.”

Q: I’ve got to ask you, who wins the big one? And will you be there at Spence-Crawford?

B.B: “Yeah, I’m flying in the morning of the fight. I am picking Errol. I see him winning by decision. I see Errol becoming overwhelming later in the fight, maybe around the eight round he’ll get a knockdown. I see a decision win for Errol.”