Pro Boxing Interview: Dean Burrell
Brooklynfights.com recently sat down with boxing prospect, Dean “Bad Newz” Burrell (10-1, 7 KOs) to talk shop. The super lightweight of Jamaican heritage grew up in England where he cut his teeth in the amateurs. For the last several years, Burrell has resided in New York, and he trains out of the historic Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. Dean’s identical twin brother, Scott Burrell, is also a pro boxer, and it is he to whom Dean refers in some of the passages below.
“In London, for young black kids growing up, there is a high chance to get involved in stuff you shouldn’t get involved in.”
What was it like growing up in South London?
I enjoyed it. I don’t think London is perceived the way that it really is in America. In London, for young black kids growing up, there is a high chance to get involved in stuff you shouldn’t get involved in. In that sense we had a bit of a rough upbringing, we got into a little bit of trouble here and there. But other than that, we came from great parents, we got a good education, we both have degrees, and we studied hard. Boxing, for the most part, kept us out of the street, so that helped us out as well–plus having two good parents.
When did you come to the United States?
We were born here. We left when we very young, maybe a year old, and came back when we were 21. We have been here about six years. Once we graduated from university, we moved. Boxing is always what we wanted to pursue in our lives, so we just wanted to have a backup scheme. It’s good to be educated in anything you do. Once we got educated, it was time to concentrate on boxing.
Who introduced you to boxing?
You know its kind of funny. Growing up, my dad was a big boxing fan. He watched a lot of boxing on television, and taught us a lot about boxing. We were always very keen and interested in the sport from a young age. Once we went to secondary school, which is 11 and 12, in England, we met some guys in the school that went to boxing gyms. They told us where we could go, we spoke to our mom about it, and she took us to the gym. That first gym wasn’t really a boxing gym, just a few dads that had boxing experience. They opened up an after school class in a school not too far from our house. We started going there, and they encouraged us to go a proper boxing gym, so we could get good sparring and stuff like that. We probably did that for a month when we were twelve.
Who is your trainer?
Don Saxby is my main guy, and his assistant for us, is Leon Taylor. Right now they are both helping us out, a lot. They are both out of Gleason’s.
What is your favorite part of Gleason’s Gym?
Gleason’s was always a gym we heard about growing up. My dad, who spent a lot of years in New York, was always telling us that it’s a great boxing gym, “One of the best boxing gyms in the world, is in New York, and it’s Gleason’s Gym.” From the moment we moved, Gleason’s has been a great gym, it has a great atmosphere. I know at a certain time there were a lot of world champions, right now, there are a lot of future champions, just a lot of young, hungry fighters. If you are a competitive person, and striving to be the best, it is a great environment for you to do that. There are a lot of good coaches. There are a lot of different styles of coaches. You are able to pick people who suit your style the best. For that aspect, I feel it is a great gym.
What is your amateur background?
I fought as an amateur for 11 years. I had 72 amateur fights, mostly, or all in England. I had 63 wins and 9 losses. I won two national championships, and was in the finals another two other times. I feel like I won both, but that’s boxing.
How bad do you want to avenge your first career loss? The judges’ scorecards indicate it was a very close fight.
We tried to get a rematch immediately after, but you know things got in the way. He fought some other people, he lost a few fights, so I don’t think it’s going to happen now. At the time I wanted a rematch immediately. I really knew I could beat him. I should have beat him. I don’t complain about the judge’s decision, because in the fight they scored two knockdowns, which there was one legitimate knockdown. I wasn’t hurt in the fight, but there was one legitimate knockdown, and one knockdown that wasn’t a knockdown. But based on that, the odds were stacked against me. In a four round fight I basically needed a knockout to win, which I nearly did knock him out. I had him all over the place. He barely survived the last round, but he did survive you know. Had it been a six round fight, I don’t think he would have even come out from the fifth round. That’s boxing, you live and you learn.
Has your approach to boxing changed since that loss?
I’ve always worked very hard, from the amateurs on up. What changed after that for me was the mentality. In my amateurs, I was always a technician, always keen to box my way to victory, and of course if the knockout comes it comes. In this fight, I feel like I let the occasion got the better of me. I was keen to put on a show, and impress, trying to get a knockout, that I didn’t really need to do. It made the fight into more of a fight than a boxing match. Had I boxed and do what I usually do, I probably would have knocked him out. From that I learned a lot, you have win the best way you know how. Knockouts will come along, I am heavy handed already, so knockouts come along.
In your first career fight, you had some heavy body shots, what did you see in your opponent’s style that opened these up?
He was pretty tough. His hands were very high on his face. It wouldn’t have been smart to go to keep going to his head. I would have been hitting the gloves a lot. I switched it up and went downstairs, that worked for me.
How did you get your nickname?
Well you know, that was given by myself, but people did used to say I was bad news for the opponent. Someone said it, and I liked it, so I stuck with it. There’s not a big background behind it.
What has been your toughest moment as a professional fighter?
My toughest moment was actually when my brother lost. When I lost, I knew what I did wrong. I feel like it was stuff I could easily correct, and I’m sure my brother knew what he did wrong, and felt like he could easily correct it. But just for me, progressing in my career that was more difficult for me to deal with than actually losing myself. As far as me fighting, I lost, I didn’t loose any sleep about that, I knew I would be back, and have been back. We have been through some issues with management. It has kept us from where we would like to be. That’s also something we have had to deal with throughout out career. Inside of the ring I haven’t had too many problems, it has been more on the outside.
Boxrec.com says you beat a guy with 157 loses, is this true?
When you go to fight in England, they have a lot of these journeyman fighters over there. They got these crazy records, they have a whole bunch of loses, very few wins, but they make a good payday out of boxing because they know how to survive. They have experience. That wasn’t the guy I was supposed to fight going over there. The promoter, at late notice, said the guy pulled out, and here is the replacement. I didn’t want to fight a guy with that many losses. It wouldn’t be good for the record. That’s who they had, and then we were supposed to do six rounds. I knew even if he is good at surviving, if we were fighting six rounds, I am sure I could knock him out. We had a contract for six rounds, when I got in the ring, to fight, they told me the guy is not willing to fight six rounds, he is only going to do four. I just fought, and I beat him up, but I didn’t knock him out.
In school, could you fool your teachers by switching classes?
We used to do that all the time. When we were in school, growing up, we had a lot of fun doing that stuff. People in the class didn’t know the difference, only maybe close friends knew. One time, I had two detentions after school, so we didn’t have to be waiting at school all night, Scott would go to one detention, and I would go to the other.
Growing up, who won the majority of the fights, you or your brother?
I think it was probably 50-50. I say it like this, we fight behind closed doors, and there wasn’t a judge to say who won those fights. Maybe he won some, I won some, but we weren’t fighting to see who was the winner, we were fighting to see who would give whose toy back, or hat back, or whatever the fight may have been. I can’t really say their was a winner. I can’t even remember the amount of fights me and my brother had. When we were growing up, we would play fight, real fight, every day. We have had a million fights. I have won a million and lost a million.
Want more? Here’s a music video featuring the Burrell brothers: