If the world made any sense, Richard Torrez Jr. wouldn’t be anywhere near a boxing ring. 

Since the dawn of the sport, this sport has been the option for those without options, the place of refuge for those looking to escape to a better life. And if this dirty business is the better life, that just goes to show how bad things were.

But here he is, the valedictorian of Mission Oak High School, about to make the walk for the 10th time as a professional on May 18 against another unbeaten heavyweight prospect in Brandon Moore. 


“This is a part of who I am,” said the 24-year-old from Tulare, California. “I'm a third-generation boxer; it just runs in my blood. I'm a super competitive guy and this is the best way to see where I can get. I think boxing's one of the most level playing fields you could get, and I want to see how far I can go.”

There is something to be said for being in a fight with only your fists and your wits to protect yourself, and when Torrez’ father, Richard Sr., brought his son into the family business, it was natural…and something he was determined to take as far as he could.

“No one likes going home with a coach (laughs), and so with my dad being the coach, sometimes the long nights home could be kind of difficult, but boxing was always there,” said Torrez of his formative years in the sport. “I don't think there was ever a time where it was like, I'm never going to box again. I think that I thought I was going to follow my dad's track, if I'm being honest with you. And also, if I would've won the gold in Tokyo, I don't know if I would've boxed anymore because, again, boxing, for me, is to see how far I could get to achieve the highest level. And if I would've won gold in the Olympics, I would've thought, I did that. So because I got silver, I still had that drive and kind of hunger to see how far I can get in this game and I'm thankful for that because now I get paid decently, too.”

That silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Games stung Torrez, but it also created a new avenue for him as a professional. While he didn’t get the hype afforded to a pair of gold medalists that also considered not turning pro – Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya – he was introduced to a wider audience intrigued by the heavyweight who not only produced knockouts, but was also in the process of learning how to fly planes and was a whiz at solving a Rubik’s Cube at breakneck speed.

“I got mine under a minute twice and I thought I was the coolest guy ever,” said Torrez, a rightful sense of pride in his voice over completing the cube. As for the reaction of his promoter, Top Rank, to his quest to become a licensed pilot, Torrez chuckles. 

“I don't think they have much to say right now. They haven't seen how hard I bounced some of those planes; if they would've saw that I don't know if they’d want me to fly, but any landing is a good landing.”

If it wasn’t clear before, it’s evident now that Torrez was never going to work a nine-to-five job. He disagrees.

“I could do a nine-to-five. I wouldn’t be happy to be in a nine-to-five.” He laughs again. “I think that whatever I set my mind to, I feel like I'd give a hundred percent in, but if there was no end in sight for what I was doing, I feel like I'd be pretty discouraged. And so, because of boxing, there are attainable goals, and flying planes, there's attainable goals like the license. It makes it a lot easier to stay driven in those tasks.”

Torrez is all-in on boxing, 9-0 with nine knockouts, and steadily moving forward in a division that can make him a lot of money over the next decade if he can continue developing, something that being aligned with Top Rank will most certainly do for him. But is boxing the endgame? One gets the impression that for someone like Torrez, this is only a stop on the journey, not the final destination.

“Boxing is the endgame if I plan on only living to 40 (laughs), but I don't think boxing is the end game,” he said. “I do, however, think that boxing is a way to continue to do what I would love to do in other facets of my life when boxing is no longer an option and I just have time on my hands to fill up. 

“Hopefully, boxing will get to the point where I won't need a nine-to-five anymore and I'll be able to go off into different endeavors, I don’t know, like farming. I got this garden going and I'm really excited about that. Or flying the planes or just being able to learn new things. And so boxing hopefully will give me the outlet to do that if I save my dollars right and I do what's necessary. But, like I said, right now, boxing is my goal.”

We’re lucky to have him. The funny thing is, Torrez is so self-effacing that he doesn’t make us feel like we’re blessed to be in his presence. He’s a down-to-earth young man with a great story who just happens to put people to sleep with his punches every couple months. That’s a gift. So how does he remain grounded when things are going to keep getting bigger and bigger?

“I think growing up in a small town like Tulare, I was already kind of in a fishbowl,” Torrez said. “If anything ever happened, if I ever got too big for my britches or someone saw me messing up, the first thing they'd say is, ‘Hey, do you want me to call your dad?’ I'd be like, ‘No, no, I'm all right.’ And with the fish getting bigger, I guess the bowl's getting bigger, as well. So I'm understanding how to take on a lot of these obstacles of the limelight and stuff like that. And I think that's just because of what I had to deal with growing up and with everyone knowing my dad. And so, if anything ever happened, they’d just call my dad. And now everyone knows Top Rank, so if anything happens, they’d probably just call Top Rank.”

They’ll probably still call dad.

“That’s true,” he laughs. “I'd rather have them call Top Rank than my dad.”

That’s a double shot of “I better stay on the straight and narrow,” but it seems like Torrez already figured that out, leaving him to focus on what happens between the ropes, where he’s taken care of business in a steady fashion against an increasing level of competition. Of course, now the question is: how does the Californian remain patient when he’s doing what’s asked of him?

“I think that's just a testament to my dad and my foundation I have right now with my team behind me,” he said. “Because there have been some talks behind closed doors where I'm like, ‘Hey guys, let's fight (those big names) tomorrow; I'm ready for it.’ And then my dad would be the one that calms me down and says, ‘Hey, we're following this path. These guys, the matchmakers, they've done this for longer than you've been born. They have a plan, and they have a strategy that's known to work. We're going to follow this strategy.’ And he’s right. They definitely know what they're doing, and so I think one of the biggest things that has helped me not try to tug out the rope too much has been the fact that I have full trust in the person holding the other end.”

Yeah, boxing doesn’t deserve Richard Torrez Jr. But it may be even more exciting than flying a plane. Maybe.

“Boxing's actually one of the activities I do that gives me the thrill,” he said. “It's almost the same as flying a plane sometimes; it's almost the same as going skydiving. I'm learning, I'm getting better, there's a rush, there's the crowd. There's so many amazing things that boxing has to offer that this is part of my journey. I wouldn't say that I'm doing boxing to get somewhere else; I'm doing boxing because I love boxing and I really just want to see how far I can get in the boxing game. 

I want to be the champion. I want to be the best. I want to be able to come back home to my dad and say, ‘Hey pops, we did it.’ I want to be able to tell my town, ‘Hey, you guys playing my fights in the Galaxy Theaters and the movies is worth it. I want to be able to say that the mural outside wasn't in vain. I want to be able to just walk outside, take a deep breath and say I accomplished what I came here to accomplish. So boxing is not to better myself in any other area; it's just to be the best boxer I can be.”