Sports

Super Heavyweight Drought over: Torrez Jr. ousts Cuba’s Pero to vie for first U.S. medal since 1988

After a first-round throw down reminiscent of his defeat at the 2019 Pan-American Games in Peru, Tulare native Richard Torrez Jr. knew something had to change.

Dainier Pero, the Cuban fighter who defeated him in the Lima-based tournament two years ago, managed to score a first-round win with all but one judge giving him the decision in the frame early Sunday morning.

With the dream of an Olympic medal hanging in the balance – and the chance to end a 33-year medal drought for U.S. super heavyweight fighters – a recalibration emerged.

Torrez Jr. shifted gears and tactics to outfox the Cuban, who slowed considerably as the round went on. He caught a minor break when the fight was paused as physicians inspected a cut over Torrez Jr.’s eye.

Ultimately, four judges scored the fight 29-28 for the Tularean with another scoring it 29-28 for Cuba’s Pero.

With the victory, Torrez Jr. advances to one of two Olympic semifinals, scheduled for 11:18 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday.

He will face off against Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev.

In the other semifinal, Great Britain’s Frazer Clarke will square off against gold medal favorite Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.