Torrez Jr. poised to be boxing's next big thing?

Just at the mention of Richard Torrez Jr.’s name, Top Rank president Todd duBoef got gushy.

“Isn’t he great?” duBoef asked about his heavyweight prospect from Tulare, California, who makes his pro debut on Friday at the Save Mart Center in Fresno in a six-rounder against Alan Melson.

DuBoef was talking about Torrez’s personality. But he seems to have the skills along with the charisma to go a long way in the pro game.

What’s important to note is that Torrez was a silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympic Games last year, becoming the first American since Riddick Bowe in 1988 to win silver at super heavyweight. The U.S. hasn’t had a gold medal of any kind among the men since Andre Ward in 1996, and its last super heavyweight gold was by Tyrell Biggs in 1984 in Los Angeles when Russia, Cuba and others boycotted the Games.

Bowe went on to an epic career after losing to Lennox Lewis in the gold medal match, winning the undisputed title, defeating the great Evander Holyfield twice, and getting inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Nobody is pegging Torrez with those kind of aspirations just yet, but this is a kid to keep an eye on despite his size.

It’s odd to think of Torrez as a small heavyweight, because most American heavyweights and super heavyweight medalists going back 70 years were smaller than he is. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Torrez would be a good-sized player in most sports.

But in the modern world of professional boxing, it’s dominated by giants, like 6-9, 270-pound WBC champion Tyson Fury. There’s also 6-6, 235-pound former champion Deontay Wilder and 6-6, 245-pound ex-champion Anthony Joshua.

Unified champion Alexander Usyk is 6-3, 220, so roughly Torrez’s size, and he chopped down Joshua to win the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 5: USA's Richard Torrez Jr (red) and Kazakhstan's Kamshybek Kunkabayev compete during their men's super heavy (over 91kg) semi-final boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on August 4, 2021. (Photo by Elif Ozturk Ozgoncu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Richard Torrez Jr., who won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games in August, makes his pro debut Friday in Fresno, California. (Photo by Elif Ozturk Ozgoncu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Torrez isn’t worried about the title yet, but he insists size won’t be an issue when it’s time.

Torrez is a personable, charismatic sort with a fan-pleasing style. When people get to know him, both inside and outside of the ring, they’ll love him.

He joked about what it would take to compete with the big boys at heavyweight now.

“Grit, spit and a whole lot of duct tape,” he said, beaming. “But really, the one thing I know is I put in the effort, and one of my main attributes is conditioning. I’ll go in there as one of the most conditioned guys at heavyweight, and I believe I am one right now. What I lack in size I make up for in grit and determination.”

In the Olympic Games, Torrez was aggressive and had high output. He moved well in the ring, created angles and overwhelmed his opponents with his speed and timing.

The pro game is more about power, particularly at heavyweight, than it is in other divisions, but there’s always a place for a fast, well-conditioned fighter.

His style should translate well to the pro ranks. He can move and has the speed of a cruiserweight or a light heavyweight with elite conditioning. That’s a good combination.

“I believe I’m a relatively fast heavyweight,” Torrez said. “If I can’t hit you hard, I’ll hit you a lot. With that being said, I can hit you a lot and pretty hard, too, so I’m excited.”

He’s a guy to be excited about. He’s got the pedigree — his father, Richard Torrez Sr., also fought — and the skills. And with his charismatic personality and fan-friendly style, he could be the next big thing in the heavyweight division.

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