By Jake Donovan
Despite his favorite football team being bounced from the NFL playoffs, there remains plenty of room for celebration in the life and career of Mike “Yes Indeed” Reed.
The unbeaten super lightweight from the greater Washington D.C. will celebrate his 23rd birthday on Tuesday, at which point his next fight will be formally announced at a press conference in New York City. Reed will make his 2016 debut on February 27, appearing on the non-televised undercard of an HBO-televised event featuring unbeaten rising stars Terence Crawford and Felix Verdejo live from Madison Square Garden Theatre.
“This is my second time in a row on an undercard of an HBO show,” an elated Reed (17-0, 10KOs) told BoxingScene.com of his next ring appearance, against an opponent to be determined. “My first time was a couple of months ago in Las Vegas (on the undercard of Tim Bradley’s fire-extinguishing 9th round knockout of Brandon Rios).
“The fight before fight, they showed highlights on truTV, which is basically part of the HBO family. So I’m not all the way on TV yet, but HBO is in the building and they’re getting to see my progress.”
Reed has stepped up his game over his past several fights, hardly a surprise given his rich boxing background. A noted amateur who claimed several titles in compiling a 90-13 record, the squat southpaw joined a movement of gifted boxers who – in light of major changes in the amateur ranks – opted to turn pro in lieu of making a run for the 2016 U.S. Olympic boxing team.
With that came his pro debut in March ’13, building his brand while fighting for one of the area’s top promotional outfits in Keystone Boxing. Ten or so fights into his pro career, Reed caught the eye of the Top Rank brass and – following an unofficial audition on a June ’14 card in Atlantic City – was added to the company’s stable of promising young talent.
“He has gotten better and better each time out over the last year,” insists Carl Moretti, vice president of operations for Top Rank. “He has impressed all of us at Top Rank with his steady and consistent performances. Out of the ring, Mike and his dad Buck (Michael “Buck” Pinson) are as professional, respectful people as you’ll ever meet. Both are a great pleasure to work with and promote.”
As classy as he is outside the ring, Reed has proven to be a fighter to watch from bell to bell. He is 7-0 since joining the Top Rank family, including knockout performances in four of his last five starts.
His next ring appearance will mark the second time he performs on a card including either Verdejo or Crawford, and the first time all three fight on the same event. Reed saw undercard action for Verdejo’s 10-round win over Ivan Najera last June – also taking place at Madison Square Garden Theatre, with the event playing on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
The first time he shared a card with Crawford marked the beginning of a developing friendship.
“My second fight with Top Rank, they sent me to Omaha, Nebraska,” Reed recalled of how he spent Thanksgiving weekend in 2014. “Bud and I, we’ve built up a friendship from that point on. It was also my first time fighting with HBO watching.”
Reed scored an eight-round decision over previously unbeaten Oscar Valenzuela in his undercard appearance. In the main event, Crawford claimed the lineal lightweight championship with a 12-round win over Raymundo Beltran. It was his last fight at the weight, moving up to super lightweight in his very next bout. Crawford claimed a title in a 6th round knockout of Thomas Dulorme, making the second defense of said belt on this upcoming show.
There stands a chance that the unbeaten fighting pride of Omaha will outgrow the division and boldly marched into lightweight by the time Reed moves into title contention, which he believes could be within his next few fights. It remains to be seen whether they will one day have to put business before friendship. For now, the main concern for Reed is to keep winning and leave a lasting impression on those observing from ringside.
“One thing I know about Terence and his camp, they’ll fight anybody,” Reed notes. “That’s a ways off for me, so I just want to keep winning and enjoy the run he’s on, regardless of where it takes our careers.”
The closest they’ve had to a rivalry thus far came in the Sunday afternoon NFL Wild Card matchup between the Washington football team (Reed’s local team) and Green Bay Packers (Crawford’s favorite team). The Packers overcame an early deficit to storm into the divisional playoffs, thus ending Washington’s season.
As for Reed, it ends his rooting interest in one sport, but only means that much more time to spend focusing on his advancement from prospect to contender.
“I was blessed with five fights last year, and already fighting just less than four months after my last one,” Reed notes. “I’d love to fight almost every month if I could, but now that I’m 17-0 and looking at fighting for a title in the next year or so, realistically we have to slow down. So now’s the time we step up, and hopefully within the next fight or so step in front of the camera.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox