Brandon Cook has stared into the abyss often.
At 37, he is a different person than the angry young man who turned professional in 2011 — miles, both proverbial and physical on the treadmill, from him.
He has fought legitimate wars everywhere the fight game has taken him; Kazakhstan, where he grinded out eight-plus rounds against world contender Kanat Islam; Montreal, where he scored a signature win by knockout against Steven Butler.
The deepest abyss of all, his 2018 World Title shot at the MGM Grand against Jaime Munguia; a third-round defeat, and an unfulfilled dream which he is determined to take one more run at.
Luis Vidales is no stranger to the deepest depths of humanity.
The super welterweight’s life is like so many others in his native Ecatepec, one of the roughest areas of Mexico City; moulded, toughened and invariably altered by the cartels which control its streets. He has the scars to prove it.
But at 34, and a former two-division Mexican champion, the man nicknamed ‘Coto’ stands out as a beacon of hope in his barrio; he speaks to school children, guides other aspiring young boxers and tries to shine light on a way out of poverty and crime.
The careers of Cook and Vidales will cross in undoubtedly violent fashion at the Pickering Casino Resort on December 2.
If Vidales wants to make it a war, and trade as he so often did with Sukhdeep Singh in September, then a war he shall have.
This time around, he will be fighting at a more comfortable 154 lbs. — and against an equal-sized opponent, Cook, after being physically outmatched by Singh in a fight that while competitive could never be mistaken for being close.
But as ‘Bad Boy’ Cook has proven already this year — in a downright nasty fight with Richard Holmes, and later in a tactical grind against Gino Godoy — he is willing to go much, much deeper than the average Canadian fighter.
Four of his five wins since the Munguia fight have come by knockout, and more succinctly by heavy body work. Vidales, while undeniably tough, felt a lot of shots against Singh back in September and has only one setting: Attack mode.
People often talk of there being ‘levels’ to the sport of boxing.
Brandon Cook is possibly a single fight away from another major opportunity on the international stage; he has shown he is durable enough to battle at the top level, and is likely at his healthiest since beginning this comeback.
Luis Vidales looks and talks the part: He is from a different place, he does have the Aztec roots he proudly reps in his ringwalk and he is definitely a warrior.
But there are, indeed, levels to this sport, and unless Vidales is markedly sharper at the lower weight, it’s likely that Cook — spurred on by a bloodthirsty crowd, aware this could be one of his final fights on home turf — will deliver on his promise to provide a statement finish.
United Boxing Promotions presents Brandon ‘Bad Boy’ Cook (25-2, 17 KO) against Luis ‘Coto’ Vidales (24-9, 10 KO) in the Main Event on December 2 at the Pickering Casino Resort. Tickets are sold out.