2007-02-23 / Sports

Torres Slams Competition At Daily News Golden Gloves

By Elio Velez

By Elio Velez

The crowd gathered at the Harlem PAL Center in Manhattan Tuesday night to watch another night of the 80th annual Daily News Golden Gloves.

As the bell rang for the second bout of the evening, Luis Torres, the burgeoning amateur 178 pound novice fighter, came out of his corner swinging.

Easily taking control with a ferocity and intensity that his opponent could not handle, the Rockaway resident slammed Michael Claudio for a second round TKO. The audience, which local support for Torres including his girlfriend and daughter, paid $20 to see a night of pugilist action quickly. They would get their money's worth when the 5 foot 6 fighter entered the ring for the second bout of the evening.

Intimidation was a tool for Torres, who exploded out of his corner and quickly threw a roundhouse left to surprise and stagger Claudio.

In the 178 pound novice class, fighters only have three rounds and two minutes to win a bout. With some advice from cornerman Frank Celentano, Torres says that he had to take control early in the match.

"My trainer saw something about he guy. He said the guy had my height and was bulky. He was going to try to charge at me," Torres said.

"I stayed calm and I saw him taking a few steps at me quick and I fired that straight left to stop him in his tracks."

Torres mixed the use of the jab and his left hand, which he has prioritized during his four wins so far in the tournament which began on January 24.

His most impressive flurry was on the second knockdown in the first round. Torres delivered a right handed jab which landed straight to Claudio's chest. An exhausted Claudio could not continue the fight and was called off a minute into the second round.

He is not a stranger to the Daily News Golden Gloves. Before he was eliminated from the competition last year, Torres made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament.

Losing weight added to his quickness in the ring and his faster delivery of punches. He feels he has a better chance to advance to the finals on April 19 at Madison Square Garden while also picking up fans along the way with his intense and ferocious style.

"The crowd always goes for the little man. When they see the little man doing good, they know that the little man got heart," Torres said.

Torres gets up at early in the morning most days for his shift working at Boardwalk Bagel on 108th Street. No rest for the weary. He has to greet his adoring fans behind the counter.

"I actually got to go work baby! My fans are going to come in and say congratulations to me! I got to be there."

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