Two Central Valley natives win Top Rank boxing matches

Central Valley natives Jose Ramirez – Fresno – and Richard Torrez Jr. – Tulare – won their Top Rank boxing matches on Friday night at the Save Mart Center (SMC).

Ramirez returned from his only May 2021 loss to Josh Taylor by winning a 12-0 unanimous decision over Jose Pedraza on Friday. Ramirez is a former unified light-welterweight champion, having held the WBC title from 2018 to May 2021, and he represented the United States at the London Olympics in 2012.

Torrez, 22, won a silver medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and made his professional debut on Friday against Allen Melson, where Torrez quickly beat Melson with a second-round knockout.

Richard Torrez Jr. points to “Tulare” written on his belt after being named the winner of the match against Allen Melson at the Save Mart Center on March 4, 2022. (Wyatt Bible/ The Collegian)

For Ramirez, fighting in front of fans at SMC was nothing new to him.

“You heard the crowd, man, when I walked into that ring. You know, it really motivates me to see how much they cheer,” Ramirez said.

“I feel like they really believe in me, you know. It’s like they see me as a champion, and I have to go out there and play like their champion. So it’s always an honor to show their talent [for] valley fans,” he said.

But for Torrez, it was something new. During the Olympics, he competed in front of empty arenas. Now he was boxing in front of over 8,000 people in the SMC, the largest crowd he has ever performed in front of.

“Being able to be in front of my home audience is unimaginable. I really can’t believe this happened. The amount of support everyone has given me. This is going to go down in the history books as one of my all-time favorite fights,” Torrez said.

“I’m so grateful to be making my Fresno debut,” Torrez said. “The Central Valley is my home and I’m proud to represent my people.”

During the match between Melson and Torrez, Melson landed a blow to Torrez’s face and left a cut that he had to attend. With 1:23 left in round two, Torrez hit another right uppercut to Melson’s face, eventually knocking him out.

After Ramirez’s 2021 loss to Taylor, where Ramirez lost the undisputed junior welterweight championship, Ramirez bounced back in the match against Pedraza on Friday. The Fresno native loved defeating a former WBO light welterweight champion in front of his family.

He said he was tense going into this fight after his decision loss to Taylor, but the added pressure of home fights increased the tension.

“I went out there and just boxed and had fun in there. I played smart and used my jab, and I think I won over eight rounds,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez threw a total of 554 punches in his match, landing 133. He consistently beat Pedraza to the punch with constant pressure, his left hook causing damage to Pedraza’s midsection and right eye.

“You know, he’s a real warrior and he’s an experienced fighter, so he pushed,” Ramirez said of Pedraza.

He said his first fight in the ring against a quality opponent was exactly the match he needed, but Ramirez said it was just the start of a long road ahead.

“That’s one thing that has affected me for the past two years. I trained so many times for a bit of fights,” Ramirez said.

He said his inactivity and discouragement in training camps had affected him, but his victory over Pedraza showed him he was ready to stay active and motivated as he continued in the 140-pound titles.

“Now it’s time to keep going back to the gym and putting…my offensive and defensive walking skills together,” Ramirez said. “They’re just getting better because I know the fights are only going to get better now. There is a lot of competition.

Jose Ramirez celebrates with the crowd after the final at the Save Mart Center on March 4, 2022. (Wyatt Bible/ The Collegian)

In the Torrez game, he said Melson’s cut was frustrating, but didn’t let it spoil the celebration.

“After the cut, I knew I had to go back to basics, and that’s what I did. I made sure to avoid additional header clashes, and got the job done in the second,” he said.

“There were always nerves, and I think that means I really cared. I really cared about making a good impression in my hometown. I cared about doing something to show the appreciation that everyone gave me. give and hopefully I made it tonight,” he said.

He reprized the name of his hometown Tulare in big white letters on his black shorts for the fight and noted that he would keep trying to make his hometown proud.

“You are my home and my life, and I have become different because of you,” he said.

Comparing his experience fighting in front of a crowd in the SMC to clashes without a crowd at the Olympics, Torrez said the reality of victory hit him when he arrived home in Tulare.

“How could I not put Tulare on my shorts? How could I not represent this? I want the world to see me through pro boxing and also see Tulare,” Torrez said.

Richard Torrez Jr. boxing Allen Melson in the first round of their match at the Save Mart Center on March 4, 2022. (Wyatt Bible/ The Collegian)

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