Jesse Reid is one of the most successful trainers around. He has coached nine world champions and was involved with many more. Today, he is based at the famed Top Rank Gym in Las Vegas, where he trains heavyweight prospect Tye Fields, who KOed former WBA champion Bruce Seldon in two rounds last October 28. Not many people know that Jesse Reid was also one of the best amateurs in the United States and a prizefighter. Let’s hear the story from him.
Tell us about your career as a boxer.
I had 93 amateur fights and I was considered one of the best middleweights in the world. I won many tournaments and made the Olympic Trials in 1968. About four years after turning pro, I decided to become a coach. The first boxer I trained was Rodolfo Gonzales who won the WBC lightweight title against Chango Carmona (TKO 13). While working with Gonzales, I said “Wow! This is a lot of fun,” so I kept training fighters and learned to be a manager. After more than 30 years, I can proudly say that I worked with nine world champions: Rodolfo Gonzales, Roger Mayweather, Bruce Curry, Gaby and Orlando Canizales, Frank Tate, Calvin Grove, Darrin Van Horn and Dingaan Thobela. I’m particularly proud of Frank Tate because I saw him when he was amateur, recognized his talent and led him to the professional world title.
Darrin Van Horn lost twice to Gianfranco Rosi. In Italy, Rosi has always been criticized. Most journalists wrote that he was just an average fighter. What’s your opinion about Rosi?
Gianfranco Rosi was a legitimate champion: he was very strong, always in shape, very awkward and he had some decent speed. I don’t understand how some people can say that Rosi was just an ordinary guy.
Among your champions, who were the easiest work with?
Gaby and Orlando Canizales. I never had an argument with them and they were very dedicated. Orlando never won a national amateur title, but he turned out to be one of the longest reigning bantamweight champions in the history of professional boxing. He beat the hell out of many great fighters, like the oustanding Olympian Paul Gonzales (who went down in two rounds). You know, a boxer must have power, speed and good reflexes to be successful. But that’s not enough: he must understand how important it is to follow his trainer’s advice. When a guy has that combination of talent and common sense, there’s no limit to what he can achieve.
Frank Tate won the IBF middleweight title against Micheal Olajide, who is very famous in Italy as a fitness trainer. What’s your opinion about Olajide as a fighter?
He was a championship caliber fighter who always showed up in excellent physical condition. He was also very smart, using his boxing knowledge to develop his own fitness training method. I’m not surprised at his success in the fitness world.
Who is your best prospect right now?
Tye Fields. He is a 30-year-old hard-hitting heavyweight who made his professional debut in 1999 and has a record of 35-1 (32 KOs). He had no amateur experience, so I'm taking my time with him. I’m happy about the progress he made. He is a dynamic fighter, very well coordinated, has a KO punch and can be mean. He can also speak very well, he is good looking and he is white. Tye Fields can definetely become a star.
Do you think that Tye Fields can become heavyweight champion?
Of course I do. I’m working to get him a title shot in about a year. There are eight or nine heavyweights who can become champions. There’s a lot of competition out there and that’s not necessarily good for boxing. You know, the fans want a power puncher who destroys all competition in his way to the top. The people are waiting for the new Mike Tyson. I’m sure that somebody will fill Tyson’s shoes.
Maybe Samuel Peter?
He must learn to throw more punches and be more aggressive. He had Wladimir Klitschko running scared, but he didn’t follow up. The Nigerian was waiting too long to do something and I don’t understand why. Samuel Peter can become a truly great fighter, but he must be trained properly.
Who is the best of the current heavyweight champions?
Lamon Brewster. I can say that because I worked with him for his last two fights against Andrew Golota (TKO 1) and Luan Krasniqui (TKO 9). Lamon is talented, has great punching power and listens real well. He also got meaner in the ring and throws many more punches. I’m very high on what he’s been doing.
The next big fight will be Floyd Mayweather vs. Zab Judah. Who will win?
Floyd Mayweather. I don’t see how Zab Judah could come out on top, he has too many weaknesses: his chin is not that strong and has a lot of anger inside. Floyd is also much faster and can hurt with both his hands.
Everybody says that boxing is in crisis. You have been in the sport for 30 years; do you think that it’s really going through a bad time?
People like to talk about crisis, but every year about 80 shows are promoted in Nevada and California. In the whole United States, the number is about 800. I’m absolutely convinced that boxing will always be healthy in this country and bring money to the people involved. I’ve been a trainer for 30 years and I never had to look for a job outside of boxing.
Jesse Reid’s 9 world champions
Born in Guadalajara (Mexico) on December 16, 1945
Record: 81 wins (71 Kos), 7 losses and 1 draw
WBC lightweight champion in 1972-1974
Born in Grand Rapids (MI) on April 24, 1961
Record: 59 wins (35 KOs) and 13 losses
WBA super featherweight champion in 1983-1984
WBC light welterweight champion in 1987-1989
Born in Marlin (Texas) on March 29, 1956
Record: 35 wins (17 KOs) and 8 losses
WBC light welterweight champion in 1983/1984
Born in on May 1, 1960
Hometown: Laredo (Texas)
Record: 48 wins (36 KOs), 8 losses and 1 draw
WBA bantamweight champion in 1986
WBO bantamweight champion in 1991
Born on November 25, 1965
Hometown: Laredo (Texas)
Record: 50 wins (37 KOs), 5 losses, 1 draw and 1 no-contest
IBF bantamweight champion in 1988-1994. He made 16 defenses and never lost the belt
Born on August 27, 1964 in Detroit (MI)
Record: 41 wins (24 KOs) and 5 losses
IBF middleweight champion in 1987-1988
Born on August 5, 1962
Hometown: Coatsville (PA)
Record: 49 wins (18 KOs) and 10 losse.
IBF featherweight champion in 1988
Darrin Van Horn
Born on September 7, 1968 in Morgan City (LA)
Record: 53 wins (29 KOs) and 3 losses
IBF light middleweight champion in 1989
IBF super middleweight champion in 1991-1992
Born on September 24, 1966 in Soweto (South Africa)
Record: 40 wins (26 KOs), 13 losses and 2 draws
WBO lightweight champion in 1990-1991
WBA lightweight champion in 1993
WBC super middleweight champion in 2000