The “Happiest Man in Oxnard” stands 5-foot-10, has a 72-inch reach, packs a nasty left jab, works in his father’s Mexican restaurant, and is one win away from being the happiest man in California.
Funny how it works. One moment, you’re training for an upcoming fight against someone we don’t know in a place some of us have never heard of.
The next moment, the L.A. Times and USA Today are on the phone with you, and your wife is at Macy’s picking out a new wardrobe and explaining to you why you suddenly need a whole new set of kitchen appliances.
That’s how Rolando Reyes became the happiest man in Oxnard. He got the call that can change a guy’s life forever.
When Diego Corrales injured his ribs training for his big rubber match with Jose Luis Castillo (53-7-1, 47 KOs), the promoters were stuck with a date on SHOWTIME (Saturday night) and no main event. So they quickly thumbed through the much-used phone book of “Contenders Who Will Fight on Short Notice,” and they found Rolando Reyes’ name.
“This is everything to me,” Reyes said on a recent conference call. “It is like a world title fight to me. It is very, very important.”
OK. He’s not Diego Corrales, but his ribs are healthy, he’s supposedly in shape and there’s that crazy “Rocky” scenario staring us right in the face.
“This is the biggest opportunity that I’ve had in my life,” Reyes said. “It is my biggest fight.”
There is no truth to the rumor Reyes is training in an Oxnard meat locker.
It helps that Reyes, who used to be promoted by Castillo’s promoter, Top Rank, is now promoted by Gary Shaw, who also promotes Corrales.
Gotta love the fight game.
Asked what his initial reaction was when he was offered the fight with the former two-time WBC lightweight champion, Reyes said, “Oh, I was ecstatic. I was the happiest man in Oxnard.”
It’s almost like Christmas in February.
Some fighters might have cringed at the name “Castillo.” Sounds like Reyes went out and did cartwheels.
Fortunately, Reyes (26-3-2, 16 KOs) says he was already training for a fight when they made him the offer.
“I am always in the gym, always training,” he said. “This opportunity came up and I started training even harder.”
The fight is scheduled for Saturday night at the Don Haskins Center on the University of Texas – El Paso campus. Contracted weight is 137 pounds.
Reyes said he has a fight plan laid out.
“I’m going to use my speed,” he said. “And use my full mitts and try to throw counterpunches and outbox him! My jab is my most important weapon. That is what is going to do the most damage.”
A round of applause, please, for the “Happiest Man in Oxnard.”
Who will win? Wladimir Klitschko or Tyson Fury?