Watsonville Boxing Academy phenom Tony " El Tigre" Torres continues to hone his skillset in the boxing ring. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

Watsonville Boxing Academy phenom Tony “El Tigre” Torres continues to be a terror in the ring following a pair of big-time victories earlier this year.   

In January, the 14-year-old incoming Watsonville High freshman won at the California State Region 8 Silver Gloves Championships in Compton with a knock-out punch that sent his opponent crumbling to the floor in the second round. 

Torres along with Juan Ramirez of E A. Hall Middle School and Cristobal Rivera of Aptos Junior High most recently won at the TITLE Invitationals Tournament in Las Vegas on May 12-14. Miguel Sanchez of Ceiba School took second in his division within a field of 944 fighters competing in the three-day tournament.

Despite the great start, Torres knows there’s still plenty of other talented boxers throughout the divisions. 

“I’m not the only one, there’s people who can still come after me,” he said.

Watsonville Boxing Academy owner and trainer Hector Retana said Torres is fast and athletic, yet always calm and ready to go for the next fight. 

One time Torres suited up five fights prior to him stepping inside the ring.  

“He’s here every day, he works out and he plays sports,” Retana said.

Retana was a trainer at Salinas Boxing Gym, helping produce 42 national champions for a little more than seven years until in 2019 he opened the boxing gym at 1204 Freedom Blvd. in Watsonville.

He said for a lot of the kids, boxing is the only sport, especially for those who have been bullied or are perhaps an introvert.   

“It’s amazing how many kids come in here and change,” Retana said.

Torres happened to stop by the boxing gym one day. Retana never once thought the youngster would box, especially because he was extremely hyperactive in the beginning.

Torres learned the ropes and slowly began to pester the longtime coach about sparring with others.

It wasn’t until one day Retana saw Torres move his head like nobody he’d ever seen before. 

Retana said it’s hard to teach a boxer to move their head and throw a punch at the same time, but Torres was doing things that weren’t normal for someone with his raw skillset.

“I think he’s gonna be the next thing coming up in Watsonville,” Retana said.

Torres is now sparring with men up to 36 years old and at times he’s the one dominating the entire time.

“[Torres is] smart,” Retana said. “Not only does he know how to move and dodge, he knows when to throw. If he watches you box, he knows what your weaknesses are. I don’t know how he catches on right away but he’ll find your weakness and then he’ll exploit it, and I’ve never seen a kid do that.”

Torres began boxing at the age of 11 just shortly after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted to participate in sports or any other athletic activity. 

“I just always liked the sport,” he said. “I was a little kid and I would just fight. I just started doing boxing and it interested me.”

Torres watches countless highlight videos on YouTube of professional boxers such as his favorites in Vasiliy Lomachenko and Canelo Alvarez.

Torres has dreams of becoming a professional boxer primarily for two legitimate reasons: they make a lot of money and the sport is fun. 

Plus, he likes the fact that once he gets good enough in the sport then he can teach himself what to improve on and work on it on his own time.

Torres said not only has he improved in the ring but believes the sport of boxing helped with discipline and learning how to control himself in certain situations. 

Most of all, he enjoys working with Retana, who makes the up-and-coming boxers earn their time in the ring.

“It’s hard, he makes you work out a lot,” Torres said. “Makes you get in shape, doesn’t want you to be lazy.”

For information on Watsonville Boxing Academy, visit WatsonvilleYouthTrainingCenter.com

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.

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