Photo © (top) Christopher Smith; (bottom) Daniel Kucin, Jr. | Illustration – Paul “Paparazzi” Jones
On March 14, super lightweight prospect Mike “Yes Indeed” Reed (12-0, 6 KOs) takes his unblemished record back to the nation’s capital where he headlines a Keystone Boxing card at the Sphinx Club in Washington, DC.
At just 22 years old, Reed has a ton of upside and he is coming off a 6-0 campaign in 2014. To cap off his win streak, Reed earned a unanimous decision victory in November over ¬previously unbeaten Oscar Valenzuela (8-1-1, 5 KOs) at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Because Reed’s bout was part of Top Rank’s card featuring WBO Titlist Terence Crawford’s (25-0, 17 KOs) near shutout of Raymundo Beltran (29-7-1, 17 KOs), the DC product received some well-deserved exposure that he intends to build on starting with his fight next Saturday.
For Eastsideboxing’s third installment of the Open Mic series, Mike Reed spoke with Paul “Paparazzi” Jones in an exclusive phone interview. Here is what the Reed had to say about his goals for 2015, how he could improve as a fighter, and more:
Eastsideboxing.com (ESB): What were some of the fights that you enjoyed watching last year and who was your Fighter of the Year?
Mike Reed: I enjoyed watching John Molina Jr. (27-5, 22 KOs) and Lucas Matthysse (36-3, 1 NC, 34 KOs). That was a good fight. Adrien Broner (29-1, 1NC, 22 KOs) and Emmanuel Taylor (18-3, 12 KOs) was a really good fight as well. I enjoyed seeing [Sergey] Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs) progress as a fighter. And, of course, I can’t forget about Terence Crawford and [Yuriorkis] Gamboa (24-1, 17 KOs). That probably was the best fight of the year to me.
I think Terence was definitely the standout fighter in 2014 because he made the leap [. . . .] one that you really didn’t see coming. He grabbed the bull by its horns so to speak. Every fight he was in, he got better and better and his opponents got better. I think he’s deserving of the Fighter of the Year award.
ESB: You were solid in 2014 with six wins. If you were giving yourself a report card, how would you grade your performance last year?
Mike Reed: Overall, it would be a C-. I started off the year very well, but I think my last two fights were less than [expected]. I kind of got stuck at a level and you know you can do better.
In November, I fought Oscar Valenzuela who was an undefeated fighter. He was a good fighter, but he was a fighter that was tailor-made for my style [. . . .] He had a little power, but I saw all of his punches coming and he never changed the speed on any of his punches. I have very good defensive moves and hand speed, so I was looking to counter off that. I don’t think I countered the way I was supposed to in that fight.
I definitely could have finished off the year better [and] my team, we’ve talked about it. Come my next fight, we look to be very explosive.
ESB: In 2015, what is the main thing you want to accomplish?
Mike Reed: I want to get back in front of the HBO crew. I want them to see the true Mike Reed.
I was the last undercard bout [in Omaha], before the TV fight came on, so I’m pretty sure that they had their eye on me. [But] I don’t like the showing that I put on in front of them. First things first, I would like to get in front of them and right my wrongs.
They saw half of Mike Reed and I want them to see the whole Mike Reed. I’m pretty sure that they’ll be impressed.
ESB: What part of your game needs the most improvement?
Mike Reed: Combination punches. I have very good hand speed and power in both hands, but what good is that if you’re not throwing that many punches? I need to trust that I can get off the punches that I’m thinking about instead of thinking about them and not throwing them. I have to continue to do a better job of that.
In this training camp, we really worked [on] combination punching, so I think you’ll see it in the fight. I’m getting a little stronger too, so you may see a one-punch knockout. You never know.
ESB: Your next fight is against a TBA opponent. Any updates on who it will be?
Not yet, but I’m not really worried about that. I’m pretty sure that I’ll have a suitable opponent.
ESB: It seemed like you were moving toward fighting in larger venues. Is there a reason why you’re headlining a local card?
Mike Reed: One of [my] goals is to bring Top Rank to DC. We want to show them that the DC boxing [scene] is real alive. A lot of people don’t know about DC boxing; they kind of overlook it. They say Philly is a fight town. You never hear of DC and we have good fighters.
I want to bring Top Rank down here [and] this is a big step.
ESB: On a personal note, what was your most embarrassing moment as a fighter?
Mike Reed: I’d have to go back to my second fight as an amateur. I had a little cousin — she’s older now — and the guy I was fighting, he didn’t hurt me, but he hit me with a right hand. [Then] he stepped on my foot and I fell. She was probably around five at the time and she said, “Mike, you got beat up!”
That would be my only real embarrassing moment.
ESB: Can you describe the best letter, call, or text that you’ve received from a fan?
Mike Reed: I’ve had a lot. You know what’s really funny? I did a career day at Brandywine Elementary School (Brandywine, MD) and the kids’ perception of me was pretty cool. They all wrote me letters about how excited they were to meet a professional boxer.
It took me back to when I was in the 4th or 5th grade and we had “Career Day.” I was amazed by the police officers and fire fighters, [but] there was never a professional athlete for me to be amazed by. So for me to be that athlete was the best feeling.
ESB: What’s the most played song in your iPod? And who is your favorite artist?
Mike Reed: I would go with the Big Sean album [titled Dark Sky Paradise]. He has a new album out and I downloaded it a week ago. It’s the only thing that I’ve been playing for the whole week. I recommend it and J. Cole’s album [titled 2014 Forest Hills Drive]. Those are my two favorite artists and they get a lot of time in my playlist.
I’m also DC born and bred, so I got to go with Wale as my favorite artist out at the moment. I like Jay-Z too because he’s so versatile and he’s been doing it for over 20 years.
ESB: What is one thing that young fighters should know about the boxing business that they probably don’t know?
Mike Reed: Read your contract and trust your team. If you have a manager, trust your manager. If you have a trainer, trust your trainer.
Boxing is a cutthroat game. But, if you have a team that you trust, you can spend less time looking over your shoulder and more time trying to perfect your craft.
ESB: You’re a humble person who talks more with his fists than with his mouth. That being said, are there any fighters from junior welterweight to welterweight that you’d like to face at this point in your career?
Mike Reed: All of them. Top Rank has a very good stable of junior welterweights, welterweights, and lightweights and I could see myself running across any of them.
After what Terence Crawford is doing — and he’s one of my favorite fighters — it’s not too far-fetched to say [that], if we continue to move up in the rankings, because he’s in my weight class now, a fight [with him] could possibly happen. You know me, I don’t call out people. So, I’m not calling him out. But, I’m a competitor and anybody that I like that’s doing well, I want to test my skills against them.
Competition makes you sharp [and] me sparring world champions and top contenders keeps me on my toes. I’ve sparred many champions and top fighters [including] Gary Russell Jr. (25-1, 14 KOs), Lamont Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs), Anthony Peterson (34-1, 22 KOs), Adrien Broner, [and] Hank Lundy (25-4-1, 12 KOs). Getting that experience and work keeps me on my Ps and Qs. If I can get in the ring with them, and have my presence felt, then I’m doing something right.
ESB: For the record, you called Miguel Cotto’s (39-4, 32 KOs) win over Sergio Martínez (51-3-2, 28 KOs) prior to their fight last June. Therefore, I cannot end this interview without asking you to pick a winner in the upcoming blockbuster between Floyd “Money” Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs) and Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs)? Are you team “Money” or team “Manny”?
Mike Reed: I’m team Manny and it’s not because I’m with Top Rank. I honestly think Manny Pacquiao will beat him. If you look at Floyd and the people that have given him problems, it’s been volume punchers.
You look at [Marcos] Maidana the first time he fought Floyd. I thought Floyd clearly won and Maidana only won three rounds. But, Floyd was uncomfortable. What makes Floyd great is that he makes adjustments and he came back the next fight and totally dominated Maidana.
I think Manny Pacquiao, being a fast southpaw, with all of his movement will give Floyd problems.
If they had met 5 years ago, Floyd would have beaten him because that was a time when Floyd was known for moving. Some people call it running. I call it boxing. He would box you instead of standing in front of you and trying to fight.
You watched Floyd walk “Sugar” Shane [Mosley] and Miguel Cotto down, but Floyd is getting older. Some of the things you used to do as a young fighter, you can’t do anymore. Floyd has to sit in the pocket more, [while] Manny’s foot movement and speed will be a factor.
I don’t think Manny has that knockout punching power anymore, but he’ll beat you more with his volume than with his punching power. He still has that 122-pound feel to him. He still throws probably twice as many punches as your average welterweight. Before he was going through people, but it was the punching power that was giving them problems. I don’t think he has that ability anymore, but he can still throw as many punches as he wants.
Floyd will try to give him a shoulder roll, but Manny won’t stop punching. Manny is also willing to trade 4-5 punches to Floyd’s one punch and he’ll do it all night.
Over 12 rounds, Manny will win the first four rounds, because Floyd likes to figure you out and potshot you. He likes to use his jab and set you up with the right hand. Then Floyd will make an adjustment and try to get Manny’s timing down. [Floyd] will counter with his jab and win three to four rounds. Come the 8th round, it will be an even fight. The last adjustment will come from Manny to win the last couple of rounds and the fight.
ESB: Are there any other fights that you’re looking forward to seeing in 2015?
Mike Reed: I think 2015 will be a great year for boxing because you have promoters and heads of companies coming together to make these mega fights. You have Canelo Alvarez vs. James Kirkland, which is a very interesting fight. You have Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson. Then you’re talking about Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov. I think the only person that won’t like that fight is grandma or your mom because in that fight, there’s going to be a lot of violence. It’s going to be like something out of a Rocky movie.
And if you’re the boxing business, you don’t like hearing people in the media or your fans saying, “Boxing is dead.” That has pushed everybody to work together, to be open about it, and to have these mega-fights in the future.
ESB: Thanks again for speaking with us Mike! Do you have any shout-outs and messages for your fans and followers on social media before we wrap up?
Mike Reed: I want to send a shout-out to my whole crew, Team Yes Indeed, Team Reed, the fans, everybody. I wouldn’t be in this moment without my fans.
Thanks for helping me get to this point in my career. We are destined for greatness and 2015 will be a very good year for us.
ESB: Best of Luck on the 14th!
Mike Reed: Thank you! ■
Mike Reed is on Facebook and Twitter.
Contact “Paparazzi” Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org
More from “Paparazzi” Jones:
The Year in Review: Six Notable Fights in 2014 – Part I — Pacquiao, Hopkins, Froch, More!
Kovalev Grounds “The Alien”
Boxing Goes High-Tech with GoPro
“The Alien” vs. “Superman” Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You?
Author note. I acknowledge Justin Jones for his comments on an earlier draft of this article.