Prizefighting matchups between West and East have long kept the sizzle in the pot of professional boxing.
For more than 100 years geographic rivalries in prizefighting have captured the fans attention to their favorites as far back as Gentleman Jim Corbett versus John L. Sullivan in 1892 or Solly Smith versus George Dixon in 1893.
Corbett fought out of San Francisco and Smith out of Los Angeles. Sullivan fought out of Boston and Dixon did too. That’s how far back the East-West rivalry goes.
Here we are 2017, with super lightweights Mike Reed (23-0, 12 KOs) arriving from Maryland to face Northern California’s Jose Ramirez (20-0, 15 KOs) on Saturday Nov. 11, at Save Mart Arena in Fresno, Calif. ESPN will televise the Top Rank fight for the WBC Continental America’s title.
Just like the difference in terrain and climate the fighters from those opposite coastal regions also have opposite fighting styles. Generally boxers from the East have a more defensive counter-punch style. Those in the West prefer offensive aggression as do their fans.
When the two styles meet you never know what can happen.
Reed, 24, is a southpaw. That alone always poses a problem for anyone, even other southpaws.
“Anything out of the ordinary gives you an advantage. When you see a southpaw it kinds of throws you off,” said Reed. “Even when I fight a southpaw it bothers me.”
It’s a quirk in boxing that shows up from time to time. The world only sees 12 percent of its total population as southpaws.
But Reed feels his left-handed stance gives him only one advantage. He has others.
“I’m fast, very accurate and I’m a southpaw. I give angles and things like that and I’m good on defense,” says Reed who was an amateur star originally based out of Washington D.C. “I honestly think I fought different competition. But we both fought Rob Frankel. We both fought a couple of guys with mostly losses. It’s all about building. We all have a different route.”
Ramirez, 25, is an orthodox fighter who stands about four inches taller than his undefeated opponent. He’s as opposite as can be with Reed except both want to face each other.
“Ever since I started boxing at age eight, I never said “no” to a fight.,” said Ramírez. “I’m excited to fight another undefeated fighter like Mike Reed. I hope he brings the best out of me, because when he does he will quickly realize he is in for a fight.”
Offense and more offense is how to describe the fighting approach of the lean and tall Ramirez from Avenal, Calif. Even his defense is based on his offense.
“I have a lot of faith in my skills and I have been training extremely hard for this fight. I’m extremely focused and really want to make a statement,” Ramirez said.
Both Reed and Ramirez were part of the U.S. National team and are very familiar with each other’s weaknesses and strengths.
“He (Ramirez) has a very good offense; a variety of punches. Kind of overwhelms a lot of guys. But his big weakness is his defense,” says Reed. “That’s what makes it a good fight, his lack of defense.”
Ramirez’s manager says that offense can overwhelm any defense.
“Mike (Reed) has never been hit by a hurricane or anyone in his career like Jose,” said Rick Mirigian, manager of Ramirez.
Reed believes in his own skills but feels the most important factor in this fight can be simply geography.
“I think the time difference,” Reed says provides an obstacle for boxers from the East fighting in the West. “People don’t factor that (the three-hour differential).
Maybe Reed has a point.
About 125 years ago when the first featherweight world title was fought between an African American and Mexican American, it was held in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. The East Coast fighter Dixon won by decision and became the first African American world champion. But when they fought again in a rematch in San Francisco, the Mexican-American Solly Garcia Smith won the rematch.
We shall see.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel