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South grad Torres advances to title bout

Javier Torres hadn't planned on even attending the U.S. Boxing National Championships up until two weeks ago, but now he's one victory away from taking home the top spot in the super heavyweight division in Denver.

Torres, a 2006 South Medford High graduate, won his third straight bout Friday with a 12-8 decision over Michigan's Trevor Bryan in the semifinals and will square off tonight with 2008 Olympic qualifier Michael Hunter Jr. of Las Vegas for a shot at the title.

The championship bout will also be an opportunity to avenge a 25-24 defeat Hunter pinned on Mike Wilson in the 2007 U.S. Championships. Torres and Wilson both cut their teeth in boxing as members of Medford's Bulldog Boxing Club. Torres currently trains in Los Angeles.

That Torres is even strapping on the gloves in Denver is a minor miracle considering he failed to qualify as a 201-pounder (heavyweight). He got a second chance when a 201-plus super heavyweight spot opened up and has made the most of it.

Torres opened with a hard-fought 11-10 triumph over national Gold Gloves finalist Bryant Jennings of Philadelphia, then followed that upset with a 27-23 decision over Aaron Green of Minnesota.

In Friday's semifinals against Bryan, Torres was poised and controlled the action to earn his spot in the championship finals.

Hunter's trip to the finals has been equally as unique.

He was disqualified after his quarterfinal victory Wednesday for using too much gauze on his hands. The dispute started soon after Hunter beat Lenroy Thompson 8-7, earning the decisive point on a punch with two seconds remaining.

Under the rules, no more than 15 yards of gauze are allowed per hand and Hunter's gauze measured 19 yards. Hunter claimed that it got stretched from removal, hired a lawyer to plead his case to an arbitration panel Thursday and, after a lengthy review, the arbitrators ruled in his favor.

He then dispatched J'Von Wallace in Friday's semifinals, stopping the California boxer in 1 minute, 9 seconds after a barrage of combinations that resulted in two knockdowns.

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com