When you look around the U.S, one of the hotbeds for boxing is Southern California. It’s no secret that some of the best sparring takes place in those gyms and they breed fighters as often as rabbits reproduce.
Just about 70 miles north of Los Angeles is the city of Lancaster and that is the birthplace of 22 year-old Lightweight Alejandro “Pin Pon” Reyes (3-0).
I know that nickname sounds a little weird but the meaning behind it will be explained a little later in this article. Alejandro has a fight coming up on September 25, which is hosted by Marv Nation and will be held in the Pico Rivera Sports Arena in Pico Rivera, CA.
Although Alejandro Reyes was born in Lancaster, he is very prideful when it comes to his Mexican roots. Things weren’t always easy growing up and his family has a blue-collar mentality that produced a special family bond that still exists to this day. Growing up, he was the only male in the house other than his father Mario, as he has four sisters. Naturally, this produced a special bond between him and his father. When asked about the bond growing up, Alejandro said, “Me and pops were always on the “low lows” (aka low riders) so it was school, sports and cars.”
This love for cars even extended to his sisters as they all have “low lows” and boxed at one point too.
In the Reyes household, both parents of Alejandro were around until he was about eleven or twelve but they then decided to go their separate ways. All that was left was Reyes and his sisters for a father that worked with heavy machinery on construction sites in order to provide for his family.
Prior to his parents splitting up, Alejandro was introduced to boxing at the early age of seven , while already playing soccer. He described himself as a “hefty kid” since he weighed almost 90 pounds at that age. Coincidently, his father asked him one day if he wanted to box.
Alejandro’s father met a guy at work named German Ruiz, who was a pro fighter and that meeting turned into Ruiz being Reyes' first trainer. German started to train Reyes in his living room, mainly to get stronger for soccer and learn self-defense.
Boxing eventually grew on Alejandro, but he admitted it wasn’t “love at first sight.”
When Alejandro started to enjoy training and fighting, he had a famous Mexican warrior that he looked up to in the ring. “The fighter I remember looking up to was the “El Maromero” Paez who was from Mexi-Cali. My pops would show me videos and tell me about him all of the time” said the fighter out of Lancaster.
Reyes continued: “I started to get on YouTube to watch his fights. It was crazy how he could fight but it was more of a show when you would go see him. He would be dancing and doing anything to catch your attention. I tried to be like him and would do things in the ring to mimic him.”
Alejandro Reyes spent some time in the amateurs, which saw him fight over eighty times during that period.
The amateur experience is different for every fighter. Some say great things about it while others point towards favoritism and corruption as something they felt occurred during their time. I asked Reyes about his experience in the amateurs and he said, “The main thing I learned is the experience you gain from the tournaments. You get exposed to styles from around the world. You keep it in your hard drive so that when you’re sparring, you can use those experiences.”
A fighter’s team is the most important part of his or her career. Growing up with that tight family dynamic, Alejandro fully understands this, which is why he is part of the crew over at West Side Boxing, which is led by brothers Nacho and Jose Saucedo. They run a family-oriented gym there and those that fight underneath their banner know that and have bought into it.
Outside of the boxing team, Alejandro’s father helps train him and his sisters assist with the meal prep, errands that need to be taken care of and they also evaluate Reyes' performances.
Reyes fought his first pro fight on September 14, 2019 against Jorge Hugo Padron (3-4) at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA. That’s a famous venue that for some resembles the famous Roman Coliseum and like those times, the fans are thirsty for all out brawls and knockouts.
On this night, Reyes would earn that knockout victory and he was welcomed with high fives and selfies from the fans in attendance.
Fast forward to a card that I was ringside for; it was headlined by Lightweight sensation Ryan Garcia on Valentine’s Day 2020. Reyes was on that card and got bumped up onto the main DAZN telecast as him and his West Side Boxing team sold a good amount of tickets for the event.
That effort came with the opportunity to fight in front of his biggest crowd, both in the arena and on the app that he has been a part of. When looking back at that moment, Reyes said, “It was a crazy experience, and the moment was breath taking. We had a lot of support from my family in Palmdale, Lancaster and everyone in SoCal.”
Last February was the last time Reyes stepped foot in the ring for a fight. What does a fighter that is not signed to a major promotion and doesn’t have a large amount of sponsors do during a time like the pandemic?
“My Pops and sisters help me financially and emotionally as we are a family. During the time when I wasn’t fighting, it was fixing cars, selling parts and cars. When COVID hit, I was just running and trying to stay somewhat active. Painting houses with my pops and for about 2 months, I was working at a body shop,” said Reyes.
Alejandro was able to stay afloat and keep himself busy enough while hoping to get that phone call for a fight. The opportunity came up and now he is fighting a little over two years from his debut. With everything that has happened since his debut, I was curious to know what his thoughts were on being a pro and Reyes said, “It is tough and a great experience. You have to stay consistent. You could be good but if you don’t have the discipline, it’s going to show in the fight. It’s not sparring, it’s a fight, as guys are looking to rip your head off. This is a sport but at the end of the day, the best man will come on top.” Sounds like a man with a level head who knows what it takes to get to the top.
On the 25th of this month, Alejandro has a tough opponent in front of him named “TBD.” I say that jokingly but somewhat seriously as Reyes doesn’t know who his opponent is as of yet. This isn’t uncommon when you’re at the prospect level but can be very challenging as you’re trying to figure things out on the fly. But Reyes sounds more mature than his age and had this to say when asked about his unknown opponent: “I just have to do my part in the gym and be prepared for the instructions that I am given during the fight. I have a solid team. I am going to do my part as they will do theirs and we are going to show up ready to fight.”
As we ended the call, I remembered to ask him about his nickname, “Pin Pon,” which I had no clue what it meant. Reyes said “When I was little, in Mexico, there is a nursery rhyme named Pin Pon. I wouldn’t go to sleep unless they played the song. As the story goes, the name stuck with me from there. No one knows me by my real name, as everyone calls me Pin Pon.”
My Three Cents
Alejandro “Pin Pon” Reyes is a lightweight who will get plenty of fights in the SoCal region especially at his weight class. The West Side Boxing team will keep him busy and slowly develop him through these next few fights.
I think he will eventually get picked up by a major promotion as he is a ticket seller and will be given the opportunity to shine. When that time comes, will he bust onto the scene and establish himself as a real threat? Only time will tell but if you are in the Los Angeles area on the 25th, get yourself a ticket and see if Alejandro Reyes is boxing’s next big prospect.