Bakhodir Jalolov of Team Uzbekistan and Richard Torrez Jr. (R) compete in the men's super heavy (+ 91kg) final bout at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 8, 2021 in Tokyo.
TOKYO – Boxer Richard Torrez Jr. was penalized a point for ducking his head in the Olympic super heavyweight final, but he held his head high after the fight.
“I feel like I had the world in my hands and it slipped,” Torrez said. “And I watched it fall and break.”
He paused, fighting to stay composed. “And I’m trying to pick up the pieces.”
In the last event of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Torrez went up against Bakhodir Jalolov of Uzbekistan, the boxer who hit him so hard in the 2019 world championships that Torrez lost consciousness and had to be taken out on a stretcher.
Jalolov is 6-foot-7, but seems bigger, while Torrez is 6-foot-2, but seems smaller. Torrez finished the fight, but lost by unanimous decision, 5-0.
“I was going to joke around and say I kind of feel like David and Goliath,” Torrez said. “At least David got a slingshot, right?”
And yet armed with just his fists and his wits, Torrez was holding his own in the 91+ kg division. He won the first round 3-2. In the second, the 22-year-old took some shots from Jalolov, including one that led to a cut above his left eye and a standing eight count. He also was caught dropping his head too much, costing him the round.
“I have no complaints with the ref taking the point; he did what he was supposed to do,” Torrez said.
By then, he was tiring out the giant Uzbek fighter, but not enough to win the bout.
Teammate Keyshawn Davis, who also won a silver medal for Team USA in the 63 kg (lightweight) division, said he was at the world championships when Torrez was knocked out.
“This last meeting, he didn’t make it out of there,” Davis said. “He’s an undersized super heavyweight. It says a lot about Richard and his heart and his passion to want to win gold and just wanting to win period.”
Both fighters were trying to become the first male Olympic gold medalist since Andre Ward in 2004.
Torrez said standing on the podium was “one of the most bittersweet moments I’ve ever felt… One guy crying tears of joy, the other sadness. So maybe one day I’ll look back and say I did a good job, because I do believe I did a good job. But it’s tough.”
However, he offered his congratulations to his opponent, who is 8-0 as a pro with eight knockouts.
But there was no knockout Sunday in Kokugikan Arena, which normally hosts sumo wrestling.
“Being in that ring and getting hit, it’s not fun,” Torrez said. “Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth. I got hit one time. I got wobbled, but I was able to maintain my feet. I was able to maintain my composure. And continue on to fight.”
Torrez is the first American super heavyweight to compete in an Olympic Games final since Riddick Bowe in 1988.
He is the third generation of a boxing family and his father, Richard Torrez Sr. is his coach. “My dad was really proud,” Torrez said. “But he just said, ‘Yeah, this sucks, but keep your head up high. And it’s hard.”
Torrez voice cracked. “I hate this feeling right now,” he said, “The only thing I’m going to say is a positive about it is I’m not going to sulk in it. I’m going to use this feeling to be better and so . .. sighs. I’m sorry I could’t perform and get that gold medal, but I’ll be back.”
After the fight, Jalolov carried his coach on his shoulders.
What makes Torrez go up against these giants? “I guess I’ve always done it,” he said. “I’ve been a little kid going up against bigger guys. I always played with the older kids. It was something that I liked doing. I like the challenge; I like the experience, I like going in there against someone that’s two heads taller than me and be able to come out victorious. It’s an amazing sense of adrenaline, it’s an amazing sense of accomplishment and I love being a super heavyweight.”