The handling of a fighter, one with promise and ample amateur experience, moving them up the ladder, methodically, smartly, correctly, is something of art.
There is a science to it, some equations and computations that knowers such as Bruce Trampler and Brad Goodman tabulate while they oversee a portion of the process.
And so, when you get a situation like the one which will unfold Nov. 11, when Mike Reed (20-0 with 12 KOs) fight Jose Carlos Ramirez, if you follow the sport closely, you probably tip your cap to all involved. Or, you should…
Because it is a GRIND.
Reed, age 24, debuted as a professional in 2013. And yes, he's dealt with the in ring and out of the ring bullshit that are typical on this ride. But he didn't let the grind steal from his reservoir.
“It has been a grind but that’s been my entire professional career,” Reed told me. “Coming out of the amateurs I felt I was overlooked by many of the top promoters. I was one of if not the favorite to be on the 2012 Olympic team so for me to get minimum offers left a sour taste in my mouth. I had to grind, fighting in club shows at home for my first 9 or 10 fights before eventually signing with Top Rank.
He spoke of the stakes in play for this fight, which pits him against Cali-based Ramirez, owner of a 20-0 (15 KOs) mark.
The WBC Continental Americas 140 pound crown is up for grabs.
“Win this fight and my next fight will for sure be for a world title. Also, it’s exactly the platform I’ve been wanting for and asking. One of the main reasons I signed with Top Rank is the reputation for building superstars and I look at this as the start for me.”
We on the outside are always opining, being that sideline matchmaker, recommending fighters take tougher tests or, maybe, chastising their enthusiasm for taking too stiff a test too early (see: Erickson Lubin).
How does the fighter, how does Reed know when the timing is most right for a step up opportunity? “I know it’s the right timing for an opportunity like this because physically I’m in the beginning of my prime. Also, I’m in the ring with both former and current world champions which tells me I belong. There isn’t anyone I can get in the ring with that I can’t hold my own against! Just to name a few names, I’ve sparred with Lamont Peterson, Gary Russell, Jarrett Hurd, Austin Trout, Adrien Broner. All of whom are either current or former world champions and still are very good fighters. The level of sparring that goes on, from the outside you aren’t able to tell who’s the world champion and who’s the contender.”
Thoughts on foe Ramirez, age 25, coming off a TKO2 win over Jake Giureceo in May. “I believe offensively he’s a very good fighter, but his defense is non existent,” Reed said. “It's going to be a great fight but I think I’ll be able to break him down to get a late stoppage.”
My three cents: I do believe in that piece you got a sense of the clarity of thinking which no doubt helps “Yes Indeed” Reed soldier on, weather the grind, and make it to this plateau, which truly is no small feat. You can see which young gun elevates another notch on November 11, on ESPN.