Boxing prospect Mike "Yes Indeed" Reed serves as a living variant of the old Monty Python sketch where an accountant goes into a job counselor and is told that aptitude tests show the best job for him is to be an accountant. The accountant is displeased. "I've been a chartered accountant for the last twenty years. I want a new job. Something exciting that will let me live." The accountant volunteers "lion taming." The counselor is skeptical. "Well yes. Yes. Of course, it's a bit of a jump isn't it? I mean, er, chartered accountancy to lion taming in one go. You don't think it might be better if you worked your way towards lion taming, say, via banking?"
Here's the thing: Reed, of Clinton, Md., is doing both the accountant thing and the dangerous thing simultaneously, as a student at the College of Southern Maryland and as a nascent boxer. Only to hear him tell it, there's at least one way in which they're the same.
"You have to be thorough," he said in an interview with TQBR Thursday. "Taking accounting classes, one mistake can mess up your whole accounting chart… Boxing is the same thing. One punch can decide the fight."
In a District-Maryland-Virginia/DMV region with its share of up-and-comers, Reed is a youngster who said he is good with numbers but doesn't just want to be another number. And with just five fights to his name, he has already defied that number by taking on a far tougher opponent in his last bout than most prospects would. Next up is another fighter with five fights to his name, this time no losses.
Randy Fuentes, set to face Reed Oct. 18 at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, Md., might not be as risky as Reed's last opponent, Ramesis Gil. Gil was 8-6-5, but only dropped a split decision to prospect Karl Dargan (last seen imitating Floyd Mayweather in the training camp of Canelo Alvarez ), fought prospect Jamie Kavanagh to a draw and snatched the undefeated record of two boxers in 2012.
Reed hurt Gil several times and stopped him in the 6th with a spectacular finish, but not before Gil hurt Reed, too. It was a new feeling for Reed, a decorated amateur who said he'd never been shaken before.
"He caught my attention a couple times in the fight. That was a learning process," he said. "It’s easy to say what you would have done in that situation, 'If I would’ve got hurt I would’ve grabbed him.' It’s easy to be on the outside looking in, to say what you would’ve done. It was second nature. I felt myself getting buzzed and I immediately grabbed him."
He also learned the value of a lesson his father/trainer/manager Michael “Buck” Pinson instilled in him. Pinson himself was a boxer as a youth, but his career suffered because he loved the fighting part of boxing and hated the conditioning part of boxing. Together, the pair have altered Michael 2.0.
"I’ve always been in great condition. My dad taught me coming up — we’ll never lose a fight because we’re tired," he said. "He said, 'We lose a fight because the other guy wanted it more or he was better than you. Never because you weren’t properly prepared.' It was a real tough fight for me but my conditioning took me over."
That said, Reed now plans to double down on that strength, having learned the value of conditioning very tangibly.
Reed has more in his arsenal than conditioning. He figures himself a natural counterpuncher — lion tamer much? — albeit an aggressive one. He counts his speed, defense and timing as assets, although he said he wants to be on the attack. If Reed's power, which he rates as "decent," is taking its toll, and if he feels like he can take his opponents' shots, he'll walk him down. In other words, he's calculating inside the ring and outside it.
"I’ve always been good with numbers," he said. When he was in grade school, he would be "running off multiplication like it wasn’t nothing," Reed said. "It's cool to be 20 years old and have two solid plans. If boxing doesn't work out, I'll still have school to fall back on." And if boxing does work out, it won't be so bad to have an accounting degree given how many boxers end up broke after making it big, he agreed.
There's another number that's not totally clear in Reed's future: What weight class is best for him. At 140, Reed has a stocky frame, which he said explains his tendency to be aggressive to get into range. He might be better suited for 135 or even 130 pounds, he acknowledged, but that's something he and his team will figure out later when they begin testing what his body can do without being drained.
If Reed does end up at 140, he'll have a natural rival down the road in fellow Waldorf prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison. The quantity of young talent in the DMV is such that Reed counts one fighter, heavyweight Seth Mitchell, as a de facto big brother who has led by example with his work ethic and with his words as a go-between of his generation's and his fathers; and Reed had once viewed Harrison as a little brother. There came a point, though, where people began asking Reed as Harrison developed whether they might fight and what would happen if they met. Reed said he understood the interest, and could envision a day where it could be a big regional clash.
"I don’t think it would be wise for neither party for us to fight each other. If fans want to see it, sure, but not right now. A loss right now for either of us would be detrimental," he said.
Reed said that the regional boxing renaissance has helped spur him, however.
"It definitely affects you, when you’re amongst your peers," Reed said. "I always want to do something that stands out. I don’t want to be just another number. I don’t want to be just another D.C. fighter. I want to be one of the great ones, if not the greatest." At the same time, many of the younger boxers in the region were inspired by the success of the Peterson brothers, and have helped give amateurs a team atmosphere that leads to both competition and reinforcement, he said.
In that regard, the catchy nickname and prospect status might keep Reed from being "just another number." Both "Mike" and "Reed" are fairly common-sounding names, but after a substitute teacher saw him fight and realized he wasn't some hobbyist, he dubbed him "Yes Indeed" with the idea that a snappy monicker would help him out. And Reed likes his prospect status, something he hopes to keep for a little longer.
"I feel like it’s a compliment. There’s so many boxers out here. Boxing’s not like anything else. Anyone can call themselves a professional boxer," he said. "There are thousands of boxers. The NFL, NBA they have a league where you're one of a few. Professional boxers one of many. To be called a prospect, I’m not just a number."
The next numbers on Reed's mind are Oct. 18 and #6. That's win #6 against Fuentes — whom Reed said was a busy puncher who will make him keep on guard against the kind of mistakes that can steal his zero.