Sports

Tulare’s Richard Torrez Jr. delivers TKO to earn gold medal berth in Tokyo

Tulare’s own Richard Torrez, Jr. is on the precipice of delivering on 70-plus year, three-generation dream.

Speaking to The Sun ahead of his Tokyo bid, Torrez Jr. was clear: he wasn’t satisfied with just a round trip ticket to Japan.

“The next two months dictate my world for the next 10 years,” Torrez Jr. said before making the journey from Colorado Springs to Tokyo. “I’m ready, I’m eager and I’m yearning for that gold medal.”

Saturday, he’ll have his chance as he tackles

Late Tuesday night, facing off against Kazakhstan’s Kamshybek Kunkabayev, Torrez Jr. delivered a technical knockout in the second round, after cutting Kukabayev’s nose.

The move forced referees to stop the match and award the victory to Torrez Jr. Kunkabayev will earn a bronze medal after his defeat in the semi-final.

The only thing standing in the Tularean’s way now? An old nemesis, Uzbeki professional boxer Bakhodir Jalolov.

Jalolov and Torrez Jr. have an intense history, as the Uzbek knocked Torrez Jr. out cold during a 2019 bout at the AIBA World Boxing Championships.

Yet Torrez Jr., whose roots in boxing run intensely deep at the Tulare Athletic Boxing Club founded by his grandfather and run by his father, said he’s prepared to go the distance for gold.

“I’m just going to keep doing all I can to be on that gold medal podium. I’m going to do all I can to be able to go back home to say, ‘dad, we did it’,” he said following the Tuesday fight.

The 22-year-old Californian is the first American to vie for the super heavyweight gold medal since Riddick Bowe in 1988 at the Seoul Olympic Games.

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.