By Loyd McIntosh
Loyd McIntosh is a freelance writer and Press Relations Manager for One One Six Boxing Promotions.
If you’ve ever been to a One One Six Boxing event, chances are you’ve witnessed the entertaining spectacle that is Saben Cura. At just 22 years old, the featherweight from Pensacola, Florida is turning heads in the boxing community not only for his skills inside the ring but also for the fun and excitement he brings to every bout. Currently undefeated with seven wins, five by knockout or TKO, the showstopper from the Sunshine State is the personification of the old P.T. Barnum quote, “always leave them wanting more.” While belts and championships are the ultimate goals, Cura also understands that giving the audience a good time and putting butts in seats is almost as important as winning. “The main thing I try to excel in is entertainment,” admits Cura. “Yeah, I want to win and be undefeated, but if no one wants to see you fight then you're not making any money.”
"Winning will only get you so far unless you can talk like an asshole. I'm not very good at being an asshole, so, I have to entertain people in a different way,” adds Cura. “So, my main goals are to offer an entertaining package and to win."
Four of Cura’s wins have come in the first round, a testament to his skills and tireless training. However, Cura says that those early knockout wins aren’t always what the paying fans come to see. They want a show, and Cura says he gets the fact that boxing is part sports part showbiz and doesn’t mind giving the crowd something exciting to see.
"I'm starting to get that understanding of how I can make the fight a better fight instead of just winning as soon as I can. But, you know, sometimes that's not necessarily the best decision because you might take someone too far and get caught," says Cura. "Like I said, I'm all for the fans and all that, so if I can make a good fight and even if I lose, I'll take it."
"If I could have a fight of the decade, like an Arturo Gatti vs Mickie Ward fight and lose, I would be okay with that instead of winning every single one of my fights and never having a single notable fight," says Cura.
Growing up in Pensacloa meant living in the shadow of Roy Jones, Jr., a favorite sun of ‘Cola who was a huge influence on the young boxer. The Joneses cast a huge shadow throughout the Florida gulf coast, initially putting the city on the boxing map. Cura says he hopes he and a handful of other up-and-coming boxers can be the start of an effort to turn the ‘Cola into a world-class boxing town. “Roy Jones, Jr. is so in touch with the community and super down to earth it’s like people know him on a personal level,” explains Cura. “That’s what I want. I’d like to be able to go place in my hometown and have that same connection to the people in Pensacola and help make this city a world-class boxing town.”
Cura, along with Pensacola-natives Corey Stokes Jamal Harris, is scheduled to compete at the next One One Six Boxing Promotions event, Rumble By The River on Saturday, April 23, at The Venue at Coosa Landing in the heart of Gadsden, Alabama. An early signee to One One Six Boxing Promotions, Cura has been a crowd-pleaser and a top-notch professional for One One Six owner and operator Brandi McCain.
“I just love Saben,” says McCain. “He’s dedicated to his training, always comes prepared to fight, and no one comes close to putting on a show like him. Saben has a bright future ahead of him and we’re thrilled to showcase him once again in April.”
"It's always been super smooth with Brandy. Since the first time we fought at one of her shows, I've never had a single issue," explains Cura. "It's not just her, but all the people around her. It's just a good community that is always super welcoming. It's always a good time at her shows and I don't have any problems.”
See Saben Cura at Rumble By The River V Presented By One One Six Boxing Promotions on Saturday, April 23, at The Venue at Coosa Landing.
Undefeated Cook to face Ulisses Jimenez on February 5 in Clarksville, Tennessee
By Loyd McIntosh
One One Six Boxing Promotions is proud to announce Michael Cook will be back in action competing in Fight Night At Austin Peay. A native of Memphis, Tennessee, Cook will put his undefeated record on the line against Ulisses Jimenez at the Winfield Dunn Center on the Campus of Austin Peay University on Saturday, February 5.
Ranked 58the among middleweights in the United States with a record of 19 wins - 11 by knockout - zero losses, and one draw, Cook looks to notch his first win since a first-round knockout of Ernesto Berrospe in Pell City, Alabama in December 2021. The 34-year-old is a hard puncher with a propensity to end fights early - six of his 11 knockouts have come in the first round. The first boxer signed to One One Six Boxing upon its founding in 2019, Cook is a crowd favorite and is poised to collect his 20th victory next month in Clarksville, Tennessee.
“Michael is the definition of a professional, from the way he prepares for an upcoming bout to the way he carries himself in his daily life,” says Brandi McCain, owner/operator of One One Six Boxing. “He is a fierce competitor who does not disappoint from the moment he steps into the ring until the final bell sounds.”
“I am looking forward to fighting in front of a great crowd at Austin Peay University,” says Cook. “Brandi and the team at One One Six Boxing Promotions always puts on a show and I can’t wait to step into the ring and start 2022 off with a knockout win in my home state.”
Cook’s development one of the most dominant middleweights in the Southeast is as improbable as it is inspirational. Turning pro in 2012, Cook rattled off nine straight wins until a hand injury forced him to walk away from the ring in 2018. “I can’t say it was a hard decision because it was a forced decision,” says Cook.
Initially, Cook fought through the pain, however, the injury forced him to alter his training regimen affecting his power and his ability to get the knockout. Unable to compete to his high standards, Cook decided to retire.
“I broke my hand and my next two fights were decisions. My shots just didn't have the same pop that they had before, because I wasn't able to fight and train at the highest level,” Cook says. “If I couldn't do things the way I've been doing them and couldn't fight at the best of my ability, then I needed to step away.
“I was still winning and outboxing guys skill for skill, but I just wasn't able to perform the way I wanted to. I was winning these clear-cut decisions over guys I know I should knock out and just didn't feel right,” adds Cook. “It's like somebody put you on a speedway and then said 'now don't go over 40 miles per hour.’ It's like ‘what am I here for?’"
Cook initially retired following a unanimous decision victory over Philip Lars in June 2018 in Tunica, Mississippi. During his three years away from professional boxing, Cook threw himself coaching and mentoring a cadre of young amateur boxers in his native Memphis. He opened a gym and coached two Golden Gloves champions, but has also dedicated himself to being a positive adult role model to the young men he works with every day.
“I learned more about myself during that time than I did ever before because I spent so much time trying to teach the small details of boxing to younger guys,” explains Cook.
“I wanted to teach kids things that I felt like got neglected when I was younger and be there for them in ways my coaches weren’t,” he adds. “For instance, if I found out one of the boys also plays basketball, then I’m going to tell him, ‘I’m going to come see you play on Saturday,’ and actually show up to support him. Little things like that.”
A man of faith with a heart for his community, Cook was able to focus on his spiritual life during those three years away from professional boxing. Cook admits that he had a hard time dealing with the injury-forced retirement emotionally and spiritually. However, since hooking up with new manager DeAndre Brown, also the executive director and pastor of LifeLine To Success - a church and community ministry aimed at transforming people with criminal histories into productive members of society - Cook has deepened his relationship with God and has found additional purpose in his daily life.
“When I first had to stop boxing, I’ll be honest, I was mad. I felt like I had spent the better part of 12 years devoted to boxing and it was all taken away,” admits Cook. “Over time it made me appreciate what God’s plan is for me.
“Everyone has a gift and for me it’s boxing,” says Cook. “I think you always get blessed when you’re operating in your gift and that’s what I’m trying to do. Boxing is the way for me to play God’s music.”
The Cook-Jimenez bout is the co-main event of Fight Night at Austin Peay and is scheduled for eight rounds. The main event features Ty “Short Fuse” Tomlin (12-0) in an eight-round. lightweight match up with Charlie Serrano. Doors open at 5 p.m. CST with the first bout scheduled for 6 p.m.
Fight Night At Austin Peay
February 5, 2022
Austin Peay University
Winfield Dunn Center
601 College Street
Clarksville, TN 37044
Click here to purchase tickets
Catching Up With One One Six Boxing Promotions Owner & Operator Brandi McCain
If you've been to a One One Six Boxing Promotions event and had a great time, you can thank Brandi McCain. A long-time resident of Gadsden, Alabama, McCain is owner and operator of One One Six Boxing Promotions, currently the only licensed boxing promoter in Alabama, and one of the female boxing promoters in the country. We caught up with Brandi for a Q&A recently to learn more about her interest in boxing, her reputation as one of the fairest promoters around, and her goals for the future of One One Six Boxing Promotions.
How did your interest in boxing begin?
I have always loved Boxing! It is a very disciplined sport that tests you mentally and physically. If you are not disciplined and you don’t train you will get your ass kicked. Don’t get me wrong, I like “team” sports, but there is something about 1 on 1 combative action that will reveal the true character of an athlete.
What were the circumstances that led you to launch One One Six Boxing Promotions?
I had joined Crossroads Boxing Gym for the Boxing Fitness Classes. I started meeting a lot of the fighters that would come in and seeing them spar really brought back the love I have always had for boxing. So, from there, I started going to all of the local amateur and pro boxing shows (at that time, Jay Deas was the only Boxing Promoter in Alabama) then I got licensed as a USA Boxing official. I wanted to help these guys achieve their goals and dreams, and lucky for me, I met Jay Deas. If it wasn’t for Jay, I wouldn’t be doing any of this. He brought Professional Boxing back alive in Alabama with Deontay Wilder. I’m just honored to be part of it.
As one of the few female boxing promoters in the country and the only one in Alabama, do you consider yourself a trailblazer in the boxing world?
Hmm…not really. I just consider myself a strong female who gets shit done.
Many of the boxers who compete in your shows have spoken about their loyalty to you and One One Six Boxing Promotions. How is your treatment of boxers different from other regional boxing promoters?
Southern hospitality! That’s what it’s all about. I have the best group of people who help me with everything! There are so many behind the scenes workers. My husband, Jason, is my biggest supporter. I am very grateful to him. I honestly think it’s because of the people I have working with me that makes One One Six Promotion amazing. Everyone loves my assistant, Shelley Roe. She is my right hand! Brian Vaughn is another of my crewmen. He does so much to help! They are all the absolute best! We just always make sure to treat each fighter equally. We don’t care if you are 15-0, or 0-15, if you need a ride to the airport, we will take you! We will make sure you get there safely. As long as you treat me and my crew with respect you will get treated with respect also.
Talk about some of the boxers currently signed with One One Six Boxing Promotions and what you think they are capable of accomplishing?
I will start with 1) Mike Cook. Mike is from Memphis, Tennessee. I actually used to travel to Tennessee to watch Mike fight, as just a fan in the crowd. I always admired how technical he was in the ring. He is a very disciplined fighter. I can see Mike on a televised card very soon. He is very professional and he has a huge following. It’s a great honor to be his Promoter. He came to me after his very first fight on my card (which was actually his one and only draw) he said he really enjoyed fighting on my card and wanted to come back to the next one. And, it just went from there. I ended up signing Mike as my first Fighter in December 2020. Mike is very easy to get along with and work with. He knows the game and he knows exactly what he wants. He has become more like family to me.
2) Shaquille Cameron, my Gadsden, Alabama boy. Although Shaquille is just entering his second year of professional boxing, he has already demonstrated some of the top things I look for in a fighter. Shaquille is from Crossroads Boxing Gym, so I have known him for a few years. He is a very humble guy, keeps to himself & he stays out of trouble. I watched him fight in the amateurs and knew he was ready to be a pro. He is very devoted to his coach, Phillip Jones, and that’s one thing I also admire about him. We are going to keep building his record in 2022 and see where it takes us. Shaquille will be someone to keep your eye on for sure; he is a powerhouse! He will eventually make his way to the top, I can almost guarantee that.
3) Saben Cura: Saben is from Pensacola, Florida, and he is something else. You see him all clean cut and dressed up with his glasses on, then the bell rings and you are like “who is this kid?” The crowd loves to watch Saben fight. I have been watching him for a year. He has been on a One One Six Card five times from between December 2020 and October 20021. He comes with strong family support, and his dad in his corner. The Curas are a wonderful family. I can’t wait to see what 2022 brings for him, he will definitely accomplish greatness.
My thing is, when signing fighters, I have to watch them for a year. I want to see how they respond to different circumstances that professional boxing brings. Whether it is a win, loss, a draw, an injury, a no-show opponent, etc. All of these things can bring out different sides in a fighter. You can’t just sign someone you have never seen fight or someone you have never seen react to certain circumstances . I want to make sure they remain professional in the sport and faithful to the promotion. And, all of the fighters I have signed and done just that.
What are your short-term and long-term goals for the future of One One Six Boxing Promotions?
Short term: keep hustling. Always strive to be bigger and better, but always remain humble. Long term: Hell, I’m just trying to get through today!
Hello, boxing fans!
One of our New Year's resolutions here at One One Six Boxing Promotions for 2022 is to provide you with as much up-to-date information as we possibly can. That's why we're launching a new blog!
Beginning in January, we'll be posting new content on the One One Six website at least once per week. Bookmark this page and come back here often for updates on upcoming shows, interviews with One One Six fighters, boxing news from around the region, and one-on-one chats with One One Six Boxing Promotions owner and promoter Brandi McCain!
We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a safe and happy New Year!