Mike Reed steps into enemy territory
Mike Reed is under no illusion about this Saturday night’s match-up against Jose Ramirez at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, California (ESPN, 10:30 pm, ET). He goes into Ramirez’s backyard – and he doesn’t seem to have much of a problem with it.
He said last week, prior to flying out west, “I would’ve taken this fight under any circumstances. I called him out about two years ago. I think they had their first show in Fresno at the Save Mart Arena and they sold out. I mean, I’m a business person, in the sense of I know what it was going to be because I’m not in (Washington) D.C. selling 10,000 people, 12,000 people. He is.
“It was a smart business decision to keep fighting at home. It’s like Terence Crawford, in a sense. He’s always fighting at home because he sells out the place. So you’re selling out, you’re making money. In that sense, I knew I probably had to go there or some place on the West Coast to fight him.”
When Reed was offered this fight, Carl Moretti, the vice president of Boxing Operations for Top Rank, told UCNLive.com, “I got the same reaction I did if it wasn’t in Fresno – sign the contract.”
But yeah, Reed, a confident sort, understands he’s going into the lion’s den.
“Yeah absolutely, if I’m going into the lion’s den, I’m a bigger lion than he is. So I’m ready to eat; I’m hungry. I’ve gotten this opportunity that I’ll definitely take advantage of,” said the southpaw, who has a record of 23-0 (12).
There is no bitterness from Reed. Not only does he understand why he has to travel 3,000 miles and face Ramirez on his turf; he actually has been marveling at how well Ramirez has drawn, in recent years, on UniMas cards in the Central Valley.
“And with me being a part of this promotion, Rick (Mirigian, Ramirez’s do-it-all adviser) has been tagging me (on Twitter) and everything. He’s doing a helluva job,” said Reed, chuckling. “He’s kind of like a manic in a sense that he’s not going to stop until the job gets done. That’s what makes him and Jose a good team but they kind of bit off more than they can chew.”
Reed is a lefty with solid boxing skills, who is a bit dismissive of Ramirez’s overall abilities, but he also understands that, with his opponent having the home canvas advantage, things like how the crowd reacts to punches and judging (which are oftentimes connected to one another) will come into play.
“I think what motivates me is, the thing about boxing fans is, if you’re a boxing fan, you like the sport. You come out for it; you spend your hard-earned money. You want to see a good fight and we’ve seen on numerous occasions that the crowd kind of turns against their hometown fighter,” says Reed, who aims to silence Ramirez’s partisans, at the very least.
But Reed then theorizes, “With boxing, the bond isn’t as strong as it with team sports. I’m a (Washington) Redskins fans. We’ve been losing time after time after time but every season comes up, ‘Yeah, we’re going to the Super Bowl.’ So our bond is a little stronger than with one-on-one sports. My plan is to have everybody screaming for Mike Reed.”
Reed will be fighting in front of not only thousands of Ramirez’s fans but many of them who are Mexican-Americans. By and large, this segment of the society still supports boxing. Many African-American boxers, for one reason or the other, do not get this same type of support. When asked about this dynamic, Reed states, “I don’t get really frustrated by that but what I can say is that, at home, they do support me. They support the hell out of me.”
Back on April 8, at the MGM Grand Harbor near D.C., Reed was part of the un-televised undercard before WBO junior lightweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko and WBO cruiserweight beltholder Oleksandr Usyk took center stage on HBO.
“With that show, there were a limited amount of seats. There isn’t a bad seat in the place and Lomachenko – who’s a world-class fighter and who’s ranked number one, number two pound-for-pound – he had a lot of guys come in and bought all the tickets,” said Reed, who regularly buys an allotment of tickets from Top Rank. “I was only able to buy 300 tickets for my family and fans and we sold out of those tickets in a week.
“So we can only imagine what we would’ve done had we had more tickets. But I don’t think the support behind it gets frustrating for me. It’s the promoters, where every African-American fighter is the same outside of the ring. Like outside, they get into trouble and things like that. Not every African-American fighter is the same.”
Washington D.C. is an area that, in the past, has not only hosted major boxing events but, years ago, the Peterson brothers (Lamont and Anthony) drew pretty well. However this market was then basically abandoned till the MGM Grand Harbor recently opened. It’s a fertile ground for fighters and fight fans. On November 30, Golden Boy Promotions is staging a nationally televised card (ESPN) from there that will feature Lamont Roach, Kevin Rivers and D’Mitrius Ballard – who all hail from this area.
”I think with us, the guys that tried to make the 2012 (Olympic) team, we all supported each other from a young age and I think D.C.’s on the up-and-up. We got the MGM now. I think that’s going to be a big boxing market,” says Reed, who believes he’ll be a large part of the renaissance, in the near future. “Somewhere along the line, they’re going to build a bigger arena connecting to it, so they can host bigger shows.”
So if Reed comes out victorious, could we see a homecoming for him in the nation’s capital?
Reed says, “We haven’t had that conversation but it is one I would love to have. I would love to come back home. I get asked two questions, well, three: ‘When are you going to fight for the title?’ ‘When are you fighting back home?’ and ‘When are you fighting on TV?’ So right now, I’m fighting on TV; I’m fighting for a smaller title (Ramirez’s WBC Continental Americas junior welterweight title) – but this is a title eliminator – so I’m checking off all of those and so the last checkmark to check is going back home and headlining, instead of just being on the undercard.”
Moretti says, “I think (Reed) could do well in either D.C., Philadelphia or Atlantic City. I think those are all viable options for him. Obviously, the outcome of this fight is important but any of those places would bring a good crowd for him.”
But for now, Reed has to play as the road warrior and, knowing this, he says he will adjust accordingly.
“Of course, of course and that goes into the point of the crowd. If I land a jab, the crowd will be quiet. If he lands a jab the crowd will be, ‘OOOOOOOOOOOOOH!’ and that can sway the judges a little bit. So I have to both totally dominate this fight from round one through 10, if it goes 10 – which I don’t think it will,” he stated.
“We have to do what we plan on doing and do what we have trained to do – and that’s dominate every second of this fight.”
So will the winner of this fight face Amir Imam (who is on the undercard in Fresno) for the vacant WBC 140-pound title?
“If Ramirez wants to secure a title shot, he has to win this fight. If Mike Reed wins this fight, there has to be a discussions but he’s certainly in the picture to fight for a vacant title, as well,” said Moretti. “But the biggest thing is the exposure you’re going to get fighting in front of that kind of crowd on ESPN. It’s going to lead to bigger and better things for the winner and I wouldn’t say that whoever loses is out of the picture, either.”
That title shot for the winner will come sooner rather than later. “I think it’ll be first-half, first-quarter of 2018,” said Moretti.
Regardless, Ramirez-Reed is a good match-up and it’s the type Top Rank should be putting on ESPN consistently. But Moretti points out, “I wouldn’t position it as necessarily because of the ESPN deal. It’s more of where these guys are in their careers. Either you can fight or you can’t fight. Y’know, tune-ups and meaningless fights just aren’t the way things are done if you want to sustain a reasonable business that makes sense.”
Here’s this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule” with Mario Lopez and me. And Lopez plays Dodgers GM at the end.
Mr. Mirigian says he expects another full-house in Fresno this weekend…So is WBC light heavyweight titlist Adonis Stevenson going to fight Badou Jack in January?…So Dillian Whyte is the WBC mandatory for heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder, huh?…Is this the biggest regular season game for the Miami Hurricanes, since the 2000 Florida State game?…Yes, I take off for Miami on Friday night…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.