BOXING: Torrez Jr. lands fourth straight knockout at Madison Square Garden

Richard Torrez Jr. records his fourth consecutive knockout fight in New York City against Egyptian boxer Ahmed Hefny

NEW YORK, N.Y.– Tulare native Richard Torrez Jr. made his Madison Square Garden debut against Egyptian boxer Ahmed Hefny. Torrez knocked Hefney out 2 minutes and 32 seconds into the third round.

It was the longest fight of Torrez’s professional career and perhaps his biggest. The fight against Hefny was one of the undercard fights for the main event featuring lightweights Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jamaine Ortiz. Since the Torrez-Hefny fight was one of two co-featured fights on the undercard, Torrez was slotted only two fights before the main event.

Torrez backed Hefny into the ropes a minute and a half into the first round, knocking him to the ground with a hard left-handed punch before the referee separated the fighters. He checked Hefny’s condition before allowing the fight to resume.

The fight was interrupted frequently by the referee separating the fighters due to “holding” on the part of Hefny. Torrez would go in for a quick close combination and Hefny would grab ahold of his head or arm, preventing Torrez from throwing any further punches. The referee could be heard saying, “stop holding, we’re here to box.” He eventually deducted a point from Hefny in the second round for holding.

“I kind of saw it coming,” Torrez said. “It’s difficult for other heavyweights to stick with the tempo that I put into the fight.”

The commentators noted that for a heavyweight, Torrez has a very aggressive, fast-paced style of boxing. He’s always moving his feet, backing his opponents into the corner or the ropes where he can finish them off with a few strong left punches. Hefny was attempting to subvert that style, to force Torrez to make a mistake so he could get a hard blow in, but that didn’t happen for him.

In the first round, Torrez threw 33 punches and landed 12 of them, while Hefny threw 16 punches and landed only two of them. Torrez clearly outpaced his older competitor and did not lose his cool in the slightest at the holding. He just kept waiting for his opportunity, keeping Hefny busy and moving until he could get a blow in.

Another good combination came a minute into the second round. Torrez got Hefny against the ropes, hitting him with a couple of left hooks and set up his right hook, but Hefny blocked him and the round continued.

The referee gave his second warning against holding and told Hefny if he had to warn him again, he’d lose a point. Hefny went to his knees with eight seconds left in the round after a right handed punch to his torso, but got to his feet again.

Already, it was the longest fight of Torrez’s career. With a knockout in the second round in his first fight and first round knockouts in the next two fights, Torrez finally reached the third round. He came out swinging.

The commentators began to get frustrated at the referee for how much he stepped between the two fighters, attempting to separate them as Hefny continued his holding tactic. Torrez finally landed two strong left punches to Hefny’s head, knocking him back against the ropes before the referee finally deducted a point from Hefny for holding. 

After a few more entanglements, Hefney went to his knees again. He stood, but only a few seconds later, with 24 seconds left in the third round, he went down for a final time. Though he was able to stand, it was declared a technical knockout. Hefny was no longer able to fight.

“It wasn’t really the performance I wanted to have,” Torrez said. “And so I’m happy with the win, but there’s a lot of things to work on.”

Instead of going to the Olympic training center like he had for previous fights, Torrez stayed in California and worked with his father and coach, Richard Torrez Sr., who was also a boxer that made the quarterfinals of the 1984 Olympic trials.

Some of Torrez’s training includes taking a ballet class at College of the Sequoias, where he’s also taking a swimming class and a debate class. Generally in heavyweight boxing there’s an expectation of being slower than lighter boxing classes, which makes Torrez unique and fun to watch because he’s quick on his feet. Ballet emphasizes a lightness and control of the body, which probably helps Torrez keep those quick feet going throughout fights.

“I tried to live in my style,” Torrez said. “I think that’s kind of why people kind of like to watch. I like to make it action packed.”

Torrez is a young boxer. He’s only 23 and just turned pro this year after taking home the silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last summer. In opposition, Hefny went pro when Torrez was only 9 years old, but for a decade of his career he favored mixed martial arts and only went back to boxing within the last few years.

Torrez doesn’t have another fight officially scheduled, but it’ll be hard to top the experience of boxing at Madison Square Garden. “The World’s Most Famous Arena” is perhaps the dream venue of every boxer. To fight where the greats like Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson. To fight at the Garden is to have your name etched in boxing history. But for Torrez, he’ll never forget the support from home.

“I just want to say thank you to everyone for supporting me,” Torrez said. “Thank you for making me feel like a champion.”

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