Reyes Wants to Fight Paulie Malignaggi Next!
Popular SoCal fighter Artemio Reyes Jr. added one more KO to his pro record of 19-2, 15 KOs after this Friday night victory over Rio Rico, Arizona’s Rodfolfo Armenta, who now falls to 12-10-1.
The Reyes-Armenta bout was the co-main at the “Path to Glory” series, presented by Thompson Boxing Promotions and held at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. This was the very first show of the year for Southland Promoter/Founder Ken Thompson and General Manager/Matchmaker Alex Camponovo and the fans responded by making Friday’s card another sell out event.
Reyes Jr. is a crowd favorite who brings in busloads of people from the Inland Empire and beyond. The tall welterweight is known for his lively walkouts. Team Reyes always has something new up their sleeve and last Friday night was no different.
Before the fights began, I ran into Artemio’s mom, Fatima Reyes, in the lobby. She told me the theme for her son’s bout was some special “King Reyes” maracas. Team members Analizia and Mhelina also shared “Team Reyes” headbands (embroidered with a crown design also seen on his jacket and boxing boots). Shaking their maracas, sporting blue satin headbands and cheering their loudest, his family, friends and fans formed a spirited gauntlet for Junior to walk through on his way to the ring. The king was ready.
The 26-year-old wasted no time in dispatching his overmatched opponent in Armenta. Applying pressure in all all-out assault, Reyes Jr. scored a second-round knockout when referee Wayne Hedgepeth stopped the clash, saving Armenta from further punishment at 1:47 in the second stanza of the bout scheduled for eight.
“King Reyes” was the conqueror once again.
Yelling in celebration and hopping up on the ring posts, Artemio shared his joy with the crowd. Reyes, a pro since 2008, went through a rough patch last year when his beloved father Artemio Reyes Sr. passed away after being rendered comatose in an auto accident. Right after the death of his father in April 2012, Reyes faced nemesis Alan Sanchez in a rematch. This time Sanchez prevailed. But since then Reyes, training out of the Capital Punishment Boxing Club with Charlie Perez and Ruben Castanon, has rebounded with a string of four wins. And after the bittersweet loss of his father–just as his career was on an upswing–this latest victory has never tasted sweeter for the Reyes camp.
Always “Fighting 4 Pops,” the future remains bright for the Colton, California boxer. One of the hardest working fighters out there, Reyes runs a restaurant (El Taquito) and continues to balance school and boxing. Time in the gym has paid off with Reyes Jr. winning WBC Fecarbox and Latino titles.
After his weekend win, I caught up with the slugger to hear his thoughts on his newest KO and his plans for the future.
“Congrats on your latest KO. What did you know about your opponent and did you think you’d get an early stoppage?” I asked him.
“I knew going in he was a tough fighter who’s been in there with some good opposition so I couldn’t get careless and be caught with a big shot from him,” Reyes admits. “The early KO I wasn’t expecting because I was prepared for the long haul.”
“It was an early ending,” I comment. “Tell me about the knockout…”
“In the first round I stunned him with a right that sent him staggering to the ropes. He recouped and fired back hard shots,” Reyes recalls, “so I took my time and continued implementing my offense. Then in the second round he came in and I threw a uppercut followed by a short left hook that knocked him out!”
“So when do you think your next fight will be?” is my next inquiry. “And any particular names out there you’d like to fight?”
“I like to be active. Last year I had five fights and this year I’m looking for the same amount of fights,” the slugger answers. “Activity is important for any fighter and I know that’s the only way I can get better. I asked my manager to see if they’d use me to fight Paulie Malignaggi. I would love that fight and seeing he has no opponent yet, I’m willing to step in to fight him.”
The talk was that Malignaggi was due to fight in April or May, with opponents being changed and yet to be finalized as of yet. Word on the street was the “Magic Man” was to face Shane Mosley, Diego Chaves and Humberto Soto. Artemio says he’d welcome the opportunity to take on the Brooklyn fighter.
Reyes been working with Charlie Perez, Ruben Castanon and the Capital Punishment stable for a while and is known as a gym rat. I ask him if his time with the CP crew has made the difference in his ascension through the ranks.
“Since I came to Capital Punishment (CP) I’ve noticed I’ve improved overall in my boxing ability,” he explains. “We’ve created a strong union in the gym and we’ve built a strong foundation in order to succeed. Ruben has guided me to where I’m at now and he will continue to do so with our sights set for a title.”
The boxer will keep his nose to the grindstone, working hard and pounding out more victories as he looks to fight for a title in the future.
Reyes Jr. also wants to take time to give a shout out to those in his corner who have seen all the ups and downs that occur in the life of a prizefighter.
“Thank you Michele for taking the time to write a story on me. I want to mention that the support I receive is truly appreciated ‘ten fold.’ I couldn’t have asked for a better team around me throughout training camps and in my personal life,” Junior says. “My family continually motivates me and I push myself to excel not only for myself but for them too and my dad who’s looking down on us.”
And when Reyes Sr. looks down and watches his son come to fight, there is no doubt he can hear the support as well–sometimes in the form of Team Reyes drums, whistles, noisemakers–and as in Friday night, it was the sound of maracas heard loud and clear. The fans made their presence known.
“The fans are amazing!” Artemio agrees. “It’s truly surreal to have so many people supporting me which is why I push myself to deliver a great show each time out–I owe it to them to put on a great show and put on a crowd pleasing fight.”
Making good on that promise, Artemio “King” Reyes Jr. delivered another KO performance at Friday’s “Path to Glory.”
Photos by Michele Chong/ Ring Photos by Marlene Marquez