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Torres has shot of lifetime on Friday Night Fights

Calm and confident.

They go together like salt and pepper or a right jab and a left hook.

South Lake Tahoe pugilist Juan Torres has that old 1-2 going for him heading into the biggest fight in his boxing career – a 10-round bout with No. 1-ranked junior welterweight contender Zab Judah on Friday night in The Grand Casino in Tunica, Miss.



ESPN2 will televise the featured undercard bout during its Friday Night Fights coverage, which starts at 6 p.m.

“I’ve learned age doesn’t mean anything. Conditioning and preparation mean everything,” said the 30-year-old Torres.




“I don’t feel nervous or have butterflies about this fight. When I step into the ring I’ll treat it as another sparring day. I’ve been training so long physically and mentally for another fight, nerves don’t mean anything to me,” Torres said.

After losing a controversial split decision to unbeaten Hector Camacho Jr. on Jan. 30 in Miami, Torres (12-5) has reason to feel good about his abilities.

“I’m right in there with these guys. A title shot could pop up anytime now,” Torres said. “I have five losses that have been either controversial or against the top contenders, so that gives me a lot of pull for getting a big fight.

“I was unknown before, but know I can afford to pick my fights. I want to take the fights that will get me a title shot, so I can make some money before I retire.”

Obviously, a win over the 19-0 Judah of Brooklyn, N.Y., would thrust the six-time world kickboxing champion into the title picture.

“If I win this fight, all we’ll do is sit and wait for the title shot to come around,” Torres said.

But Torres knows stopping Judah – a southpaw – will require the fight of his life.

“It’s gonna be a tough fight. He’s got punching power. He comes into a fight throwing bombs for the first three rounds. If I can keep myself free from those bombs for three or four rounds, I should be able to do well against him,” Torres said.

That’s exactly what didn’t happen in his last fight against Camacho Jr. The “Macho Man’s” son floored Torres in the first round, and the former South Tahoe High student struggled to beat the count, rising to his feet at nine. However, Torres dominated the final nine rounds and lost on the deciding judge’s card by one point. He guarantees that the biggest opportunity of his career won’t be left up to the judges.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to be pushing the fight a little more this time. As long as it lasts, it should be entertaining. He or I could go at any time,” he said. “I don’t have the knockout punch that I do in kickboxing because of the different stance I have to take and the precautions that come with boxing. But I’ll try to step up the pace and try and win a unanimous decision instead of letting it go to a split decision.”

Torres isn’t ruling an early knockout, though. He and his corner have noticed some flaws in Judah’s aggressive style.

“I’ve been watching videos of him and he had a tendency to bring his chin up when he rushes in, so we’re focusing on that,” Torres said. “A straight right hand or a hook to the body will put a stop to him rushing in or make him think twice about doing it again.”

Figuring out a southpaw has become old hat for Torres, whose younger brother, Hector, delivers from the left side. Also, Torres was quite successful scoring points in his loss to the left-handed Camacho Jr.

“I’ve been sparring with lefties at the ranch in San Diego and I’ve been exposed to all different kinds of styles, just in case. I’m always full of surprises, so I won’t be surprised if someone else is, too,” Torres said.

His ESPN2 debut was one of three bouts his management team pondered for this week. They also considered a Friday night bout in Las Vegas and a chance to fight for the California state championship April 13 in San Diego.

“I’m 30 years old and don’t have much time to waste. I don’t want to waste any more time with preliminary fights. I’m either going to make it with this fight, otherwise I shouldn’t be wasting my time,” Torres said.

That seriousness should have Judah’s camp worried.

Notes: This isn’t Torres’ first time in front of a national TV audience. He’s also appeared on Showtime and the disbanded USA Network’s Tuesday Night Fights … Torres is appreciative toward his Stateline employer the Horizon Resort Casino for allowing him to take time off to train for this huge fight.


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