Sadly there are Torres’ nonbelievers in his hometown
One thing that you can always count on working at the Tahoe Daily Tribune is your voice mail being the pulse of the community.
Whether it’s parents understandably concerned about the publishing dates of Little League or American Youth Soccer Organization games or adults wondering why we omitted some National Hockey League scoring summaries from the scoreboard, the feedback lets us know what the readers want.
One of the four messages that I reviewed when I came into work Monday smacked me right in the jaw.
The unidentified caller said he and his five buddies couldn’t believe Juan Torres of South Lake Tahoe got away with “throwing” his junior welterweight fight with Zab Judah on Friday night. He said it was obvious Torres took a dive after two phantom punches missed their mark. This came out of the mouth of someone who shares the same town with Torres.
What loyalty! I’m sure you were pulling for Judah, anyway.
I don’t know about the rest of the community, but I believe Torres when he says he was knocked out.
Sure, I had my doubts after watching the fight for the first time Friday, but after reviewing the tape I saw the punch that KO’d Torres. It wasn’t a bomb, but Judah’s sharp right hook found the mark between the bridge of Torres’ nose and left eye. Fighters have different tolerance level to punches, and this just happened to be the precise shot that puts down Torres for a nap.
My uncertainties were completely erased after talking to Torres on Sunday night.
“My whole career is based on controversy, politics or people thinking I took a dive. I gambled on one move and lost,” said Torres, who had hoped a step to his left would set up a open right to Judah’s head. Instead, Judah beat him to the punch, delivering the crisp right hook that knocked him out.
“I guess I’m the only one who knows how it feels to be knocked out like that. Knockouts happen with lucky punches, not with something that’s planned. I’ve been talking to my family and they were glad it ended the way it did, so I didn’t get really hurt.”
I’m also proud of what Torres has accomplished in boxing. In this town without a boxing gym, Torres has been able to work his way to the upper reaches of the sport with old-fashioned hard work and determination.
The nameless caller went on to say that Torres no longer deserves to be written about in the Tribune. “He’s wasted space.” This sounds like someone who is jealous of Torres.
What did Torres have to gain by taking a dive Friday night? Did Judah, one of the world’s most promising young fighters, really need any help against the journeyman?
For the eight years I’ve known Torres he has always been a man of his word. He’s also a proud man who wants to be the best in his profession.
This accuser is no better than the pair of ESPN2 boxing announcers, Teddy Atlas and Bob Papa, who worked Friday’s bout. They made every accusation, save who was paying off Torres. They also never bothered to talk to Torres afterward.
This caller probably expected Torres to open his dream boxing gym on Monday after “being paid off.”
Torres resumed training Monday in San Diego, preparing for his next bout in early June.
The pro boxing purses have never been kind to the “Ghost Warrior” – even as he has ascended into high-profile fights – but with a few more paychecks he’ll be able to give back to the community his love of boxing, kickboxing and martial arts.
“I’ve been fighting since I was 5, and I’m at the point I don’t want to wait for that beating to come before I retire,” said the 30-year-old Torres prior to his bout with the 20-0 Judah. “Even though the money has never been there, I accomplished more than I ever dreamed of in both boxing and kickboxing.
“Martial arts is in my blood and maybe I can live the dream of world champion by making one. Tahoe needs a full-sized training gym. I will be teaching martial arts and kickboxing, and a lot of pro fighters would benefit from being able to train there while in town for their fights at Stateline.”
Instead of phoning me, that nameless caller should call Torres and apologize.
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