‘Bad Boy’ Cook of Ajax survives tough fight to win split decision at Pickering Casino Resort

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Published May 1, 2023 at 9:05 am

A packed house at the Pickering Casino Resort Photo Glenn Hendry

It’s been nearly five years since Brandon Cook stood in the ring at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas against Mexican superstar Jamie Muinga with a world title up for grabs.

The fight was the co-main event with the hugely anticipated Canelo Alveraz-Gennady Golovkin 2 bout and Cook knew he had reached the top of the mountain in the boxing world. He would give it his best shot that night but would ultimately lose on a third round TKO against a fighter who has not lost since.

Cook would like to get back to that mountain top and at 36 he knows time is running out.

“This is my last run,” the Ajax fighter said in his dressing room after a long session with the medical staff after a brutal 10-round split decision victory over tough super welterweight Argentinian Gino Godoy, who was 29-2 going into the fight Saturday night at the Pickering Casino Resort Arena and hadn’t lost in nearly 12 years.

“I’ll be 37 this year. We still have time but …”

Whether Cook’s performance earns him that big payday he’s looking for will depend on how long it takes him to rehab a still undetermined arm injury he sustained in training for the fight. That injury – he’s pretty sure the muscle isn’t torn – robbed him of his jab, he said.

“He’s a tough fighter for sure and he was well prepared,” Cook said of Godoy. “But I made (the fight) that tough. I was looking for the big shot all night because I didn’t have my jab.”

Brandon Cook, post-fight

The final decision was close – two judges scored it 95-94 for Cook, the other had it 96-93 Godoy – but Cook did enough to win, stalking Godoy through most of the bout and penetrating the Argentinian fighter’s defence with a couple of big overhand rights in the early rounds and some punishing body shots in the sixth.

Godoy, for his part, showed his experience by dancing out of trouble, landing his jabs – one such punch put Cook down for a standing eight count in the third – and both fighters tried for the knockout in the final two rounds, with Cook landing a couple of hard rights in the ninth.

‘Bad Boy’ Cook, now 25-2, said it was conditioning that gave him the edge, noting he “probably would have lost” without his team making sure he was in top shape for the fight.

As to his next fight, he wanted it to be a big one in September but now he’s unsure of the timeline because he doesn’t know the nature of his injury.

“I have no idea. I’ve never been through this before.”

‘Marvellous’ Mark Smithers was the co-main event on the card and the unbeaten pride of Barrie moved to 11-0 with a gruelling and very bloody unanimous 8-round decision over experienced Argentinian journeyman super lightweight Jorge Rodriguez.

Smithers fought carefully through most of the bout against Rodriguez (now 23-20-2), who counter-punched his way out of trouble and was able to land a few good shots of his own. But an inadvertent head butt opened up a cut that had the Argentine fighter covered in blood through the latter rounds and caused the fight to be stopped twice to have the ring doctor stop the bleeding.

Jorge Rodriguez (left) and Mark Smithers

In the sixth a thump from Rodriguez got the blood flowing over Smithers’ eye and soon both fighters looked like they’d been through a war.

The seventh was Smithers’ best as he buckled his 41 year-old opponent with a combination, followed by a jab that snapped Rodriguez’s head back.

The judges scored the fight 80-72, 79-73 and 78-74 in favour of Smithers, who has yet to KO an opponent.

The third bout of the evening was the quickest as Ricardo ‘Big 12’ Brown overwhelmed his Argentinian opponent, Jesus Nerio, with a stoppage 1:49 into the first round with a rib-breaking body blow that could be heard up in the balcony.

For Brown, a former Jamaican Olympian now living in Brantford, it was his second straight first round victory over an overmatched fighter and the second straight fight stopped by a body blow by the hard-punching, 6’7 heavyweight.

Brown, now 7-0, has not gone beyond three rounds in any of his fights.

Super middleweight Kemahl ‘Hitman’ Russell moved to 14-1 after his TKO win over Marcos Cornejo, who threw wildly for most of the fight until his corner threw in the towel at 1:49 of the fourth with Cornejo absorbing punishment and not responding.

Russel had Cornejo in trouble in the second round as well but the Argentine fighter was able to escape any major damage.

The opening bout on the evening in the arena was a featherweight fight between Michael Cabato of Toronto and 18 year-old Jorge Diaz and the entertaining four-round bout ended in a majority draw.

Diaz ended the fight with a furious flurry to give his corner hopes of a victory and one judge agreed, giving all four rounds to Diaz. The other two judges scored the fight even.

Promising middleweight Melinda Watpool (2-0) was also supposed to be on the card but her scheduled opponent, Angelica Flores, was not on the plane to Toronto from Mexico.

Brandon Cook of Ajax faced off against Gino Godoy of Argentina in a super welterweight bout Saturday night

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