The winner of The Contender series intends to graduate to champion when he takes on Jermell Charlo in a middleweight showdown Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
This Saturday, June 29, Brandon “The Cannon” Adams (21-2, 13 KOs) faces WBC Interim World Middleweight Champion Jermall Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs) at the NRG Arena in Charlo’s hometown of Houston, Texas, live on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“When I was offered the fight with Jermall Charlo, I accepted it,” Brandon said. “I didn’t care if it was in his town.”
Adams, 29, returned to the ring last year after a three-year hiatus to compete in the television reality series, The Contender. When he stepped back between the ropes, Brandon’s performances wowed audiences as he swept the tournament.
In perhaps the most entertaining bout of the season, Adams faced the volume-punching Eric Walker in a hotly contested action fight. Part of what earned Adams the win was the way he used his physicality to control Walker on the inside.
“The shoes I was wearing, I was slipping and sliding. I never had good traction,” Adams recalled. “He was moving at angles—he was moving good. I can take absolutely nothing from him. I said to myself, ‘The only way I’m gonna be able to do anything is if I use my body.’
“I was always told that I hit real hard. I figured if I was able to break him down with body punches and with my power, I could win the fight.”
Back under the lights, Adams’ skills looked so sharp it appeared he’d never spent a day out of the gym. Even more impressive, his craft had improved since he last fought in 2015. Brandon is highly athletic in the ring and utilizes high-level ring intelligence to keep his foes unbalanced and guessing at his next move.
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“I know it might sound crazy, but I got a lot of the way I fight from watching martial arts movies and Dragon Ball Z. I’d watch it and think, wow, I want to try that. I’d go out there and try it and do it in different ways until I could turn it into ‘Brandon.’”
Adams opened up about being shelved and what went down behind the scenes of his last fight before the layoff, his loss to John Thompson in 2015.
“I was going through a dispute with my [former] manager,” Adams said. “I didn’t have nobody to protect me on the business side of boxing. I was told I wasn’t fighting, so I didn’t train like it. Then at the last minute I was told I would be fighting. I didn’t make weight and ultimately, the weight cut killed me.
“After that fight, I was destroyed. I didn’t want to look in the mirror. I felt I let my family down. I noticed everybody pretty much disappeared. The only people that were there were my wife, my trainer Dub [Huntley]…the circle around me got extremely small. I didn’t feel like I could rely on anybody. I was told by the promoter, ‘Stay ready, we’ll give you a call.’ I waited for two years.”
Once Adams agreed to participate in the fifth season of The Contender, he had a talk with himself about his motivation for doing it.
“I thought this would be a way for me to speak out about what happened to me [on the business side]. That way I can be a messenger to whoever needs to hear, to be cautious and alert and figure out as much information as they can.”
Growing up in Watts, California, near Compton, young Brandon was surrounded by gangs and poverty.
“The gangs were pretty hectic. Fortunately, I didn’t fall victim to it, but my older siblings did. It was a territorial neighborhood. My relatives, they all [wore] a different color: it was Bloods [gang] in that neighborhood and my family was wearing the blue [Crips gang].”
Brandon’s mother took care of the Adams children as well as other kids who were on their own. She was the glue that held the rest of Brandon’s family together and helped ensure he and his two younger siblings had a future.
“I saw her struggle my whole life and overcome it. She’s my hero. Other people I saw on TV, I didn’t see any of their struggles. With my mom, I lived it.”
Adams always had a different way of looking at things and found motivation to do better through a variety of interests.
“I was always trying to figure out ways to channel what was going on around me into something positive. I always wanted to be some kind of hero. I wanted to be a Power Ranger. Then I was inspired watching wrestling. I thought I was gonna grow up to wear tights and flex in front of people. I thought I was gonna be the next Ultimate Warrior or The Rock.”
As a child, Brandon had a periodic heart murmur. That and his family’s financial situation prevented him from playing sports, including his first love, football. Adams began to train to box when he was 18, working with a neighbor who went by Big Al.
“I didn’t box for a whole year because I had to make sure my body was in great shape. Big Al told me, ‘You’ve got to be in phenomenal shape, because these guys have been boxing since they were six. You waited till you’re grown to start doing it? You gotta make sure you’ll never get tired because these guys will have experience over you.’
“When I turned 19, he introduced me to the man who’s my trainer today, Dub Huntley. Big Al used to focus on strength and conditioning for me and Dub taught me how to box.”
For the Charlo fight, Brandon is working with Dub and has also added the famed Freddie Roach to his coaching team. Roach and Adams worked together with excellent results on The Contender.
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On fight night, all fighters get pumped up or focused in different ways. Brandon pulls from some of his favorite forms of entertainment.
“I prepare by watching something with Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, or Dragon Ball Z. Something with martial arts, where the main protagonist is whooping butt.”
And Brandon’s favorite fictional character?
“Goku from Dragon Ball Z.”
As far as his favorite superhero, it was a bit tougher for Brandon to pick one.
“I like Ryu from Street Fighter. And there’s Goku. Those are the guys I’ve always been up on.”
Adams’ favorite movies are in the same genre:
“Kung Fu Hustle,” Brandon said. “Or Rumble in the Bronx.”
When it comes to food, Adams isn’t picky.
“I eat anything as long as I know it’s healthy. I am a California guy, so sushi’s up there.”
Adams has a message for fans ahead of his fight with Jermall Charlo.
“Stay tuned. Watch it. I’m gonna bring it and I hope he comes with his best, because I plan to.”
For a closer look at Brandon Adams, check out his fighter page.