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Torrez Jr. Advances to Finals; Jones Makes History

by Brian Taylor, USA Boxing

A day with mixed results for Team USA at the Kokugikan Arena will still be one that goes down in history and remembered for years to come, as Richard Torrez Jr. (Tulare, Calif.) advanced to the super heavyweight finals, becoming the first American since 1988 to do so, and Oshae Jones (Toledo, Ohio) became the first female welterweight Olympic medalist for USA Boxing.

Torrez put on another impressive performance to earn a third-round stoppage over Kamshybek Kunkabayev of Kazakhstan to advance to the finals.

After taking a 4-1 lead at the conclusion of the first round, Torrez continued to break Kunkabayev, the second seed of these Games and ranked second in the Boxing Task Force (BTF)rankings, down, landing multiple massive overland lefts. Torrez confirmed his second-round dominance with another left hand to knockdown his opponent in the final seconds of the round, resulting in Kukabayev laying on the canvas and receiving an eight count at the sound of the bell.

With a commanding 20-17 lead on four of the five scorecards, Torrez still did not ease up on his opponent, who was also deducted one point for excessive holding during the second round.  Torrez continued to connect on numerous power shots, landing another left hand, putting Kunkabayev on the canvas yet again and receiving his second eight count.

During the left hand, Torrez opened a cut on the Kazakhstan’s nose, leading the ringside physician to say Kunkabayev was no longer fit to fight and giving Torrez the victory and a spot in Sunday’s finals.

Jones, who made history by just qualifying to these Olympics, punched herself another spot into the history books after securing the bronze medal following a 4-1 split decision loss to Hong Gu of China.

The welterweight became just the third American female to medal at an Olympic Games, joining Claressa Shields (2012 and 2016 gold medalist) and Marlen Esparza (2012 bronze medalist).

Team USA will have their first shot at Olympic gold tomorrow when featherweight Duke Ragan (Cincinnati, Ohio) takes on Russian Olympic Committee’s Albert Batyrgaziev. Ragan will take to the ring at approximately 2:30 a.m. EST, and can be watched live here.

Day 11 Results

69 kg: Hong Gu/CHN dec. over Oshae Jones, Toledo, Ohio/USA, 4-1

91+ kg: Richard Torrez Jr., Tulare, Calif./USA, dec. by RSC over Kamshybek Kunkabayev/KAZ, RSC-Injury

Torrez Quotes

On how he’s feeling after winning the semifinal:

“I’m feeling great. I hope my opponent's alright, I hope he’s doing good. I saw him walk out of the ring, so much love to him.

“He who sheds his blood with me today is my brother. I 100% agree with that statement. I live by that statement.

“I just really want to get off here and be able to call my dad and say, ‘good job'.”

On the game plan going into this fight:

“Our game plan was definitely the jab to body, the overhand left. I knew he was going to throw that left hand, that was his bread and butter.

"I said, ‘why not use that to our advantage as well'?"

On the success of his overhand left:

“I never underestimate my opponent so being able to have it land like that was definitely a blessing.

"It’s something my coach said was going to land, something my dad said was going to land, something all my coaches said was going to land. I pictured it landing.

“This wasn’t the first time I had this fight. I had this fight at least five times last night. I had this fight three times this morning and I was walking into the ring replaying this fight again, too.

"It’s something I’ve envisioned, and it was able to come to fruition. I’m very proud of that.”

On his emotion going into the fight:

“I told you guys after the first fight and I’m a firm believer in it again: this is destiny.

"There’s something here about it that I feel like I’m supposed to be here. I feel like it’s meant to be.

“I’m just going to keep doing all I can to be on that gold medal podium. I’m going to do all I can to be able to go back home to say, ‘dad, we did it'. 

"I’m going to do all I can to shake his hand and say, ‘we’re gold medalists now'. Not just me, Richard TORREZ (his father) is a gold medalist, you know he’s Richard TORREZ too.”

On why he feels like this is destiny:

“I don’t know how to say it, what is love, you know? It’s kind of that same thing. I’m meant to be here and all I know is that.”

On preparing for the next fight:

“We’re going to let this day, we’re going to reflect on it, we’re going to be able to say congratulations for today and then tonight we’re going to watch the fight over.

"I watch all my opponents' fights. I watch back my fights, so I can do better. That’s when the game plan starts again.”

On what he thought of some experts predicting that KUNKABAYEV (KAZ) would win the fight:

“Well, they should’ve asked me.”