Taking several dozen jabs to the face is minor compared to the headache which is sitting in I-5 traffic.
That’s the way Kevin Torres looks at it.
The 19-year-old Torres is a resident of Bellingham, however, every Wednesday and Thursday he makes the trek south to train with the Tacoma Boxing Club.
The miles have certainly piled up, but so have the victories.
Torres overcame a slow start to successfully defend his 152-pound title at the 68th annual Tacoma Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament Saturday at the University of Puget Sound’s Memorial Fieldhouse.
Torres defeated James Porter of the University of Washington Boxing Club by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28 on the judges’ scorecard.
“Twice a week I drive down there. I don’t like the drive, but it’s worth it,” Torres said. “I’ve been doing this for two years. I just wanted to become the best boxer I could be. Tacoma is where I needed to be for that to happen.”
With the victory, Torres became the first to win consecutive titles in the 152-pound classification since former Tacoma Boxing Club member John Peak accomplished the feat in 2007-08.
“Sometimes Kevin doesn’t always listen to me,” said Tacoma Boxing Club coach Tom Mustin. “Today, he did. He picked it up after that first round.”
Porter was one of five boxers from the UW Boxing Club to advance to a championship bout — the most by any club.
UW, which started its boxing program less than three years ago, went 2-3 in the finals, getting victories from Richard Vansiclen, a repeat titlist in the 178-pound division, and Jocelyn Robles, who won the 112-pound female championship.
“They’re getting better and better,” Mustin said about the UW’s boxing program. “It’s a good thing for (the Tacoma Boxing Club) though. It keeps us on our toes. It pushes us.”
Another Mustin-trained boxer, South Kitsap grad Matthew Mollet, registered back-to-back heavyweight titles with a victory over Aaron Rocha-Urrea of Seattle.
Torres and Mollet were the only Tacoma Boxing Club members to win championships.
Steven Villalobos of Federal Way defeated Tacoma’s Nick Vasquez by split decision in a thrilling 165-pound semifinal bout. Villalobos will face Vasil Drenta today in the championship final at the Al Davies Boys & Girls Club.
Robles opened the card by defeating Savannah Riggles of Montana by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Jeremy Morales, of Kennewick’s R&C Boxing, posted the night’s first knock out with a second-round TKO of Seattle’s Salvador Jimenez for the 114-pound championship. Jimenez was issued a standing eight count late in the first round before being knocked to the canvas midway through the second, leading the referee to wave off the bout.
A similar scenario occurred in the 123-pound championship with Renton’s Jose Valenzuela beating UW’s Devin Bell by third-round TKO. Valenzuela, a product of Azteca Boxing, showcased his speed early, connecting with his lightning-quick jab from the onset. Bell received standing eight counts in all three rounds with the final one resulting in the end of the fight.
A very strong third and final round secured the 132-pound crown for Kenny Guzman, whose variety of punches continued to find the mark throughout the final 2 minutes of his contest with Luis Alvarado.
Additional champions include Lindsey Hanson (female, 119) and Nino Delgado (141).
Winners of the Tacoma Golden Gloves advance to the West Region tournament in Las Vegas March 19-20 with regional champions moving on to the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions in Salt Lake City May 16-21.