by David P. Greisman, Photos by Juan Marshall/DMV’s Pro/Am Fighttalk.
Mike Reed likes math.
It’s why the 20-year-old pro junior-welterweight prospect is studying accounting at the College of Southern Maryland. In a way, math is also why he turned to boxing half his life ago.
“I’ve always been competitive. I played football and I played basketball. Neither of my teams were that good,” Reed said on a September morning. “Boxing was a one-on-one sport. Everything that I did, I was held accountable.”
The numbers have worked out in his favor. Over the past decade, the wins have added up — he was 90-13 as an amateur — and his collection of championships and medals has grown. Those accomplishments include wins at the National Silver Gloves in 2005, at the National Ringside World Championships in 2005 and 2007, at the Junior Olympic Nationals in 2009, and at the National Golden Gloves in 2011.
He’s also pulled in silver and bronze medals at other national tournaments, including a bronze at the 2011 U.S. Championships. He tried out unsuccessfully for the 2012 Olympic boxing team, then turned pro earlier this year instead of staying in the amateur system for another four years.
“I knew a lot of changes would be going on in USA Boxing,” Reed said. “The ‘no headgear’ thing was a big issue with me. I figured that fighting in national tournaments five days in a row with no headgear — I’d rather fight once for a pro fight and get paid to do it. Taking that headgear off, and the level of fighters that you’re fighting on the national level, it’d be almost like fighting a world championship fight every time that you go out. I didn’t really think that made a whole lot of sense.”
Reed did feel some disappointment. The ability to represent one’s country in the Olympics can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He also somewhat misses the sense of brotherhood that comes with seeing the other fighters at tournament after tournament. Yet with five pro bouts under his belt since this past March — and with all five ending in wins, including four by way of knockout — he’s certain he made the right decision.
“I felt myself just going through the motions around the time that the Olympic trials came around,” he said. “Being an amateur for nine years at the time … I just needed something else to push me.”
He’s been fortunate to perform in front of home crowds. He lives in Waldorf, Md., a community about two dozen miles south of Washington, D.C. Three of his fights have been in nearby Fort Washington, while the others were in Upper Marlboro and the Nation’s Capital. His next bout brings him back to the Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington for the fourth time. He’s scheduled to face Randy Fuentes, a 4-0-1 fighter from Texas, on Oct. 18.
Reed will have his father, Michael Pinson, in his corner. Family is the other major reason Reed got into the sport. Two of his older brothers had taken up boxing, with one of them competing as an amateur. Reed soon followed suit, though he had to get past losing his first four bouts.
Pinson also is Reed’s manager and owns the Dream Team Boxing Gym in Clinton, Md., which Seth Mitchell also trains out of.
“I know one thing is for sure is he’ll [look out for] my best interests,” Reed said. “I know that when you sign with somebody or have somebody in your corner, that’s what you would like to say. But I know with my dad that it runs deeper than business. I feel as though that bond we have is just really amazing.”
Mitchell also is a good influence on Reed, who recognizes the heavyweight’s work ethic.
“I used to watch a lot of heavyweights train. They would train, but they wouldn’t train like one would train in the lighter weight classes,” Reed said. “Me and Seth live around the same area. He’ll call me and we’ll go out and run. He’s like a mentor to me, like a big brother figure. So we’ll run together. Because I’m smaller, I’ll beat him, but he tries to beat me every time. I know if I’m slipping, he’ll catch me sometimes when we run. When he’s training, he pushes me, and I push him. I think it’s amazing to see a heavyweight work like that.”
Reed says the late lightweight titleholder Diego Corrales was one of his favorite fighters of all time. He also likes modern star Adrien Broner, whom he first met in 2009.
“He was the same guy he is now. He’s just a fun-going guy,” Reed said. “And just to see him improve from then to now makes me appreciate him a lot more.”
Reed describes himself as an aggressive counter-puncher with good defense and hand speed, but also a fighter who will be the aggressor and take the fight to his opponent if he has to. He’s most comfortable at junior welterweight — he’s been at 140 since the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, and he walks around at about 153 to 154 pounds — but would be willing and able to go down to lightweight.
That’s a big change from the self-described “fat kid” who weighed 109 pounds when he walked into the gym as a 10 year old. “I’m a lot healthier than I was back then,” he said. He still allows himself his traditional Colorado Omelette from IHOP after he weighs in, however.
He’s also fitting in his pro boxing career around a college schedule, with his classes coming earlier in the day so as to allow for training in the evening. Reed said it’s important for him to do both at the same time, and not just to focus on boxing now and postpone school until later.
“I knew coming out of high school that I didn’t want to take too much of a break and just completely forget about school,” he said. “It’s easy to go away from something and just totally forget about it, come back when I’m 26 or 27 years old. I don’t feel like I would’ve been motivated. Graduating high school, all you knew was school. You had 12 years of school. It wasn’t that hard to get up and go to school, coming out of high school and going to college. Taking years off, I wouldn’t be used to it. I would be used to boxing.”
This accounting student is living a life of addition, then. He is seeking to better himself in the classroom, and he is doing the same in the ring.
“I want to keep taking the type of fights I’ve been taking to get rounds and get more experience. I also want to keep improving on my style, making sure every opponent that I fight is a live opponent. I don’t need somebody just falling down in the ring,” Reed said.
“Coming from the level of fighting I had in the Olympic trials as an amateur, I was at a certain level. If I take a step back, that wouldn’t be good for my career. So I just need more experience. I also would like to become nationally known. As an amateur, I was nationally known. But I want to put my imprint on the pro rankings.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon. Send questions/comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org