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Torres a terror for boxing club

One of the heavy bags at the Bulldog Boxing Club is taking quite a pounding.

Ka-boom! Ka-boom! Ka-boom!

Left jab, right cross, big left hook.

The youngster inflicting the blows looks to be 15 or 16 years old.

He is muscular. He is fit. He is skilled.

He is 12-year-old, 119-pound Javier Torres, and whenever his name comes up, the club's founder and manger, Joe Pedrojetti, smiles broadly.

He's the workhorse of this gym, Pedrojetti says as he runs his fighters through an evening workout. You can't keep Javier out of here. He's here every day. If I locked the place up for a day, I'm sure he'd find a way in.

Torres is one of about 15 Bulldog boxers who will step into the ring tonight and Saturday at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point for the Region 7 Silver Gloves and Oregon State USA Senior tournaments.

Action gets under way at 7 each night.

Torres, a seventh-grader at McLoughlin Middle School, has only been boxing for two years but has quickly gained a reputation as one of the best young fighters in the country.

He's posted a 20-3 record and last February became the only fighter in the five-year history of the Bulldog club to win a Silver Gloves national championship.

The Silver Gloves competition is comparable to the Golden Gloves except that the fighters are 10-15 years old instead of 16 and older.

Super heavyweight Mike Wilson of Central Point has received much of the attention among Bulldog fighters recently for his rapid ascent. Wilson became an alternate with the U.S. Olympic team last summer and competed in bouts against the Ukraine, Puerto Rico and Hungary.

But not even Wilson can lay claim to a Silver Gloves national title — he settled for a runner-up finish last year.

What makes Torres so good is his combination of skill and hard work. And no one at the club has a greater passion for boxing.

I love it, I just love it, says Torres, whose younger brother, Tito, also fights. I love to come here every day and get my workouts in.

The older Torres first showed up at the club with his cousin in the fall of 1998.

We were real bored, he says. We heard about it from a friend. My cousin quit coming but I liked it a lot.

The bouts at the younger levels entail three rounds of two minutes or less, and all of the fighters are required to wear headgear.

Knockdowns, knockouts and technical knockouts are rare, but not with Torres. Most of his fights are stopped, often due to his punishing blows to the body.

He packs an incredible wallop for a 12-year-old kid, Pedrojetti says, noting that Torres knocked out each of his four opponents at last year's national Silver Gloves tournament. A lot of his opponents take a few of his shots to the midsection and they don't want to fight anymore.

During sparring sessions, Pedrojetti usually matches Torres against older fighters. Earlier this week he was in the ring with Lionel Leon, 20, Junior Rios, 15, and Troy Wohosky, 15, and holding his own.

You look out there and you?re amazed there's an age difference, Pedrojetti says. If someone walked in off the street they?d have no idea.

Torres? biggest problem is that his tough-guy reputation has leaked out. Many would-be opponents will skip a tournament that he's entered in or go up or down a weight to avoid him.

That happens to other fighters, too, Pedrojetti says. It goes with the territory. It's too bad because, in a sense, you?re getting penalized for being so good.

But when you get to the big tournaments — the national events — you?re never at a shortage for opponents.

Torres has dreams of going to the Olympics, turning pro and becoming a world champion.

Such destinations are usually reached by those who work the hardest and are the most athletic, and one can surely count Torres in those categories.

Right now, though, he's simply enjoying the journey.

— Reach reporter at 776-4469, or e-mail

Torres a terror for boxing club