Two Central Valley natives win Top Rank Boxing matches

Jose Ramirez lands a punch on Jose Pedraza in round 4 of their match at The Save Mart Center on March 4, 2022. (Wyatt Bible/ The Collegian)

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

Ramirez came back after his only loss in May 2021 against Josh Taylor by winning on a unanimous 12-0 decision against José 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 U.S. at the 2012 London Olympics. 

Torrez, 22, won a silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and made his professional debut 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 the SMC wasn’t something 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. 

“It feels like they really believe in me, you know. It’s like they see me as a champion, and I gotta go out there and perform like their champion. So it’s always an honor showcasing their talent [for] the fans in the Valley,” he said. 

But for Torrez, this 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 performed in front of. 

“To be able to be in front of my home audience is unimaginable. I really can’t believe that that happened. The amount of support that everyone gave me. That’s going to go down in the history books as one of my favorite fights ever,” Torrez said. 

“I’m just so thankful to make my debut in Fresno,” Torrez said. “The Central Valley is home, and I am proud to represent my people.”

During the matchup between Melson and Torrez, Melson landed a hit onto Torrez’s face and left a cut he needed to have attended. With 1:23 left in the second round, 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 Friday. The Fresno native cherished defeating a former WBO lightweight welterweight champion in front of his family.

He said he was tense coming into this fight after his decision loss to Taylor, but adding on the pressure of fighting at home 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 more than 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 his right eye. 

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

He said his first fight back in the ring against a quality opponent was just the match he needed, but Ramirez said this is just the beginning of the long road ahead.

“That’s one thing that’s affected me these last couple of years. I’ve trained so many times for a little bit of fights,” Ramirez said. 

He said his inactivity and his discouragement in training camps took a toll on him, but his win over Pedraza showed him he’s ready to stay active and motivated as he continues in the 140-pound titles.

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

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

In Torrez’s matchup, he said the cut from Melson was frustrating, but didn’t let it ruin the celebration. 

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

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

He repped his hometown Tulare’s name in big white letters over his black shorts for the fight and noted that he will continue to try to make his hometown proud. 

“You guys are my home and my life, and I’ve grown different because of you,” he said.  

Comparing his experience fighting before a crowd in the SMC to the crowdless matchups at the Olympics, Torrez said the reality of the win hit him when he arrived home to Tulare. 

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

Richard Torrez Jr. boxing Allen Melson in round 1 of their match at The Save Mart Center on March 4, 2022. (Wyatt Bible/ The Collegian)
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