Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton both wearing Cleto Reyes in their fight at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas
Cleto Reyes are the gloves of choice for punchers, Mexican boxing legends and pound for pound best fighter in the world Manny Pacquaio. What makes Cleto Reyes so special though and how did the brand that’s delivered knockout blows to thousands become the weapon of choice for fistic legends the world over?
The story starts on April 26th 1920 in Mexico City, where Cleto Reyes Castro was born. Facing extreme poverty the young Cleto started working at the age of 12 in a saddlery that manufactured baseball goods.
In 1936, while he was going to elementary school in premises across from the famed “Peralvillo Cozumel” ring, his love for boxing was born. In 1938, Cleto Reyes took part in his first amateur fight, however his performance was
so poor that the crowd rained down coins on him and he decided from that moment on that his future lay outside of the ring. He chose instead to mend the gloves he had used during the fight and this started his career in glove manufacture.
Subsequently his gloves obtained the approval of the local boxing commission (COMBOX DF), and in 1945 the Cleto Reyes gloves were used in a world championship fight for first time and “La Condesa Arena” was the setting of the fight between the second Mexican Champion Juan Zurita and Ike Williams.
In 1965, he had his first salesman in Los Angeles who began distributing his products in the most important cities of the United States and some other countries, the message spread from there.
In 1970, by which time Don Cleto’s health was ailing, his son Alberto Reyes joined the family company and with his entrepreneurial vision, decided to register the trademark Cleto Reyes in 1975 and to found Industria Reyes S.A. de C.V. in 1979.
What makes a Cleto Reyes glove special? Well that is something hard to define, the brand conjurs up imagines of Mexican warriors of the past – Julio Cesar Chavevz and Erik Morales. Some say they “hit harder” with a Cleto. Prince Naseem Hamed went as far as ordering a custom made pair in goat skin for his fight with Marco Antonio Barrera and having his brother fly on a private jet to collect them! Cleto Reyes boxing gloves seem to say “I am here to fight” and perhaps thats why boxers choose them to this very day.
Boxing superstars don’t come much better than Manny Pacquiao, and there is no finer place to see why than in American television giant HBO’s latest highlight selection – see Hatton, De le Hoya and Cotto amongst others defeated by force of nature that is Pacman.
Nigel Benn – WBO middleweight champion 1990; WBC super-middleweight champion 1992-96.
In light of recent events surrounding Ricky Hatton I thought that Benn’s own comments on the demons that stalked his boxing career and retirement are particularly interesting:
“I wanted fame, money, women – you name it, I wanted it all. But did I have peace? No, I had more trouble, more heartache, more darkness. My life was in total disarray.
I was trying to fill the darkness with women, going out clubbing, partying – something was missing in my life. I’d made a lot of money – millions – and I had people who wanted to be around me, to sponge off me. I thought they were my friends but I never had any friends. I’d go out and buy champagne and I didn’t even drink champagne.
Everyone was around me to see what they could get out of me. My life was like that all through my career. I was just a pawn, to make people money. If it wasn’t for my wife and Jesus coming into my life, I’d either be six feet under or in a mental hospital.
The sport of boxing doesn’t worry about fighters, it’s all about making pound notes. They don’t care if I break my arm, there’s another Nigel Benn on the way. And they shouldn’t care, it was my choice – everything I did was what I wanted to do.
I’d say to fighters like James DeGale and David Haye: “Be careful, you’ve got to be strong.” I was very weak. It’s about making sure you have a good foundation, a good family and network of people around you, because you can easily get drawn away from them like I did. But it’s a sport that I loved – and that I still love.”
Edwin Valero always brings excitement. The excitement is not always saved for the fans watching his fights – it’s often the main event in his life outside of the ring too.
The fighter universally recognised as the most dangerous puncher in boxing and muted as a future opponent for everyone from Manny Pacquiao to Ricky Hatton is currently under lock and key by court order in a Venezuelan rehab facility for ‘alcohol and drug dependency’.
The events leading to his incarceration vary greatly but the essentials as far as I could glean from various news reports were that Valero’s wife took a “fall” down a flight of stairs and suffered some broken ribs and punctured lung. Valero by all accounts turned up at the hospital in a wild state and had to be forcibly restrained – no easy task I would imagine.
The WBC has given Valero champion in recess status while he is locked up – presumably to earn a few more dollars from fights while he is away from boxing. Rumours have abounded that Valero is poised to be released much earlier than his six month sentence but as of writing he is still firmly detoxing by order of the courts.
What is certain is that Valero’s life both inside and out of the ring continues to be an excercise in drama, aggression and wild emotions. Who knows what will be next – for now lets hope he has a swift recovery and returns to the ring as planned.
Don’t bet on anything involving Valero to be straightforward though, this is one soap opera where the ending is anything but textbook.
There has been an awful lot written about Ricky the hitman Hatton, but you will have to forgive me for adding to that mass of words with a few carefully chosen musings on why we should cherish the Hitman and not knock him.
Few modern fighters and especially British ones have captured the imagination of the public in quite the way Hatton has.
How did he achieve this?
The answer is to take the reader on a journey through a special type of boxer – to be more specific not just a boxer but a fighter. Hatton’s style is not polished or even defensively minded, Hatton is a brawler, a relentless, come forward, swarming, non stop killer. His boxing skills however are actually excellent – many a tough night he ground out a win against often bigger opponents (Juan Urango, Luis Collazo) using beautiful footwork and every ounce of the sweet science.
Pride in Battle
What won the fans heart though was his aggression – Hatton comes to fight, not to dance and avoid the action. You know what to expect from Hatton – he comes to take the other guy out – whether that’s one round or twelve. His often quoted comment that “it’s not a tickling contest” is a perfect description of this and Hatton’s unique personality.
Hattons personality saw him crossover from boxing star to British superstar – he is a man of the people, devoid of airs and graces and the trappings of fame. He is happy in his own skin, amongst his homeland of Hyde near Manchester. His sense of humour and wise cracking jokes won the British public over long before HBO’s excellent fly on the wall documentary 24/7 opened the flood gates up for the American fans to follow.
A special night - Ricky Hatton vs. Kostya Tszyu
I will personally remember a night at the MEN arena in Manchester where Hatton took the fight to Kostya Tzysu. He walked through fire that night – taking shots that could have dispatched tree trunks. He took it all and burst off his stool at the beginning of each round like he couldn’t wait to get back in there. It was perhaps the peak performance of Hatton’s so far.
So to the future – one foot in and one foot out of retirement. Two losses to the greatest fighters of his generation. I feel Hatton could do it all again – Erik Morales has shown the desire to lose 50 pounds of flab and come back taking shots and firing more back just this last weekend. For now I will just savour the fights he’s had and for me that’s enough for now!
Having been born above a boxing gym in Tijuana Mexico and boxing from the age of 5, it would never be easy for Erik “El Terrible” Morales to walk away from boxing.
On March 27th Morales will end his two and a half-year retirement and make his long rumored return to the ring. It’s a comeback that begs the question why? How much does Morales have left to prove after his part in two of the best trilogies in boxing history – against Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera? Without another paid punch in his life he would surely be a guaranteed fixture in the boxing hall of fame.
The prospect of possibly being the only Mexican fighter to win a world title in four separate weight classes is definitely a temptation. Morales old rival Barrera has already had his ambitions on that crusade cruelly stopped by Britain’s chinny wonder Amir Khan. A fourth fight with the worlds pound for pound best boxer Manny Pacquiao (not to mention the millions of dollars that would come with such a fight) must also appeal. Morales is after all one of the few fighters out there to comprehensively beat Pacquiao – in their first fight, so maybe he thinks he knows something Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto and Ricky Hatton dont?
Could a fourth fight ever happen?
So it seems there are many question marks over El Terrible – not least the weight he has had to shift to get down to 147 pounds.
I hope he succeeds and isn’t annihilated by a far lesser opponent than deserves a win against such a boxing great, but the jury is definitely out on whether he can bring back the glory days once more.
For now lets remember him in his prime – in what HBO has rightly included as one of their ‘Fights of the Decade’ – here in his first of three amazing fights against his bitter Mexican rival Marco Antonio Barrera:
Many boxers exist on the periphery of fame and fortune, while their peers take easy fights against hand-picked opponents and hog the lime light.
True talent has a way of shining through though and Juan Manuel Marquez with blood, sweat and an iron will, has forced himself to the top of the pile and into most pundits Pound for Pound lists.
There were some shocking injustices along the way though – dodged by Prince Naseem Hamed for 22 straight fights when Marquez was his mandatory challenger, robbed of victories on score cards in his two fights with Manny Pacquiao (who has since avoided a third instalment of their saga like the plague).
It was those two fights with Pacquiao that perversely opened Marquez up to a wider audience. No one before or since has caused so many problems for Pacquiao. Marquez was knocked down three times in the opening round of their first fight and dragged himself off the canvas to fight back to a draw! That’s a phenomenal accomplishment. In their second fight Marquez was robbed by the Vegas judges – shamefully in my opinion.
A third fight with Pacquiao coming?
While Pacquiao went on to become the biggest name in boxing, Marquez went back to what he knows best – tough fights against hard opposition. Marquez has brought something new to the table at this stage of his career – the knockout finish. In my previous post on the uppercut punch I flagged up Marquez’s devastating use of this to close the show on Juan ‘Baby Bull’ Diaz.
Marquez’s last fight against Floyd Mayweather should tell fans more about his desire to face the best regardless of seemingly monumental advantages given to his opponents – Marquez was moving up 2 full weight classes to challenge Mayweather - who flouted the 145 pound catchweight to gain even more advantage.
Most of the attention in the run up to the fight for Marquez was on his declaration of drinking his own urine while training to ‘preserve nutrients’. While that would not be my choice of post workout beverage…each to their own I suppose! Mayweather recorded a wide points victory in that fight and watching I wonder whether Marquez had simply bitten off more than he could chew – Mayweather looked enormous next to him.
- The infamous urine ‘therapy’
Dinamita’s future is still to be decided – he is the current WBO and WBA world lightweight champion, rumors abound that he is poised to move up to light welterweight to chase Pacquiao once again for another fight. I hope he succeeds in securing that fight. Whatever happens Marquez is a one of the best boxers walking the earth today – a true ring general and a Mexican legend in the making.
What more can you ask for?
My personal favorite punch in boxing – the left hook to the body. Sometimes known as the left to the liver this is a punch that if applied correctly is a show stopper.
Ricky Hatton delivers a left hook to the liver
Pioneered by latin fighters who favour body punches – that weaken and drain an opponent, the left hook to the body is a classic but a hard punch to land to perfection as it relies on pin point accuracy, foot work and power all combined in an instant.
Ricky Hatton delivered such a punch in his fight with Mexican Jose Luis Castillo. The Hitman Hatton – known as the Manchester Mexican for his love of body punches destroyed Castillo in the 4th round of their Vegas fight on June 23, 2007 with the left hook to the liver – the perfect punch as it was called afterwards.
Hatton's Perfect Punch
Bob Arum the legendary boxing promoter said after the fight “In 42 years of boxing, I’ve seen that punch land maybe 5 times”.
This punch is a show stopper, Castillo said he was unable to breath after it. One look at his face tells you just how potent the effect is.
Watch for yourselves the full 4th round of Hatton Castillo and see the work that goes into positioning the punch – its no lucky shot!
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Tagged Best Boxing News Sites Around!, bob arum, boxing, fighter, hatton, hitman, jose luis castillo, left hook, mexican, perfect punch, promoter, ricky hatton, sugar ray robinson, top rank, vegas
Think of boxing superstars and you probably think of Muhammad Ali. When you think of Ali what is it that sticks in your mind? The Ali shuffle? The public persona? It’s no secret that Ali took more than just a touch of inspiration from a certain Walker Smith Jnr, better known as Sugar Ray Robinson calling him “The king, the master, my idol”.
So what is so special about Sugar Ray, why all the fuss?
Sugar Ray Robinson
Put simply he personified the sweet science – knockout power in both hands, dazzling hand speed, stunning footwork, brash super confidence, he knew every punch in the booking text-book and could throw them all, from any angle at any time with explosive power.
He was so good the whole notion of a pound for pound best boxer was created just for Sugar Ray – that’s how special he was.
If you have seen the great film Raging Bull you may remember Robinson’s epic battles with Jake laMotta, they actually fought six times, with Sugar Ray winning five of the six battles.
Robinson retired from boxing with a record of 175-19-6 with 110 knockouts in 200 professional bouts. If you compare that to todays great fighters who tend to retire after around 50 professional fights that will give you some context to this achievement.
I genuinely struggle to put into words how good Sugar Ray Robinson was, to watch him in action is to see something that perhaps only comes around once in history.
Words like genius and legend are banded around so often these days that they have lost their impact, but Sugar Ray really personified both traits.
Watch this video – really do watch it – if you’ve never seen him in action before you are in for something very special indeed:
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Tagged ali, Best Boxing News Sites Around!, boxing, Gene Fullmer, GOAT, jake la motta, jake laMotta, Light heavyweight, lightweight, Middleweight, muhammad ali, p4p, pound for pound, randy turpin, ricky hatton, robinson, sugar ray, WBC, welterweight
Perhaps the most devastating force in world boxing today, Edwin Valero stands on the cusp of mainstream success despite career setbacks that would have derailed lesser fighters.
In 2001 Valero riding a motorbike without a helmet was involved in an accident that resulted in a fractured skull and surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. Cleared by a Venezuelan doctor to fight, in January 2004 he failed a brain scan for an upcoming fight with American network HBO and was banned from fighting in the US.
Forced to fight wherever would take him – and he spent much of his early career fighting in Japan. His southpaw stance, ultra aggressive style – walking his opponent down, cutting the ring off combined with his disregard for boxing basics – he keeps his guard low, head straight up and his chin exposed, mouth open as he punches, continues to bring a raw charm to this fighter.
A few facts and figures – he has won all 27 of his fights by knockout. 19 of those knockouts in the first round. That is devastating power.
In his last outing Valero added previously hidden boxing skills to the power and aggression that are his trademark – forcing the highly regarded Antiono De Marco to be pulled out by his corner at the end of the ninth round. Valero suffered a deep cut to the forehead in this fight (caused by an accidental elbow) – the WBC in its infinite wisdom has now made him “Lightweight champion in recess” while he recovers. A rumoured move to light welterweight – the territory of Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton and Timothy Bradley could and should propel this fighter to boxing mainstream.
If he could carry the power up two weight divisions to welterweight – as Manny Pacquiao has done, then big pay days in Vegas could lie ahead. Texas has now cleared Valero to fight there – a US audience and following is vital in today’s market.
So what are your thoughts? Does Valero have the boxing skills to compete in the hardest weight classes in boxing? Will his explosive power move up with him? Will the brain scan scupper mainstream US fights? Is there anyone out there better?
Here’s a little taste of him in action:
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Tagged amir khan, Best Boxing News Sites Around!, edwin valero, knockout, light welterweight, lightweight, Manny Pacquiao, ricky hatton, southpaw, valero, venezuela, WBC, welterweight