E.C. native Torres to throw out first pitch for Sox

2009-04-21T00:00:00Z E.C. native Torres to throw out first pitch for SoxMatt Erickson
matt.erickson@nwi.com, (219) 933-3275
nwitimes.com

Miguel Torres will be a special guest of the White Sox on May 6 and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Torres, an East Chicago native, is the world bantamweight (135 pounds) champion for the World Extreme Cagefighting organization. Torres, who runs Torres Martial Arts Academy in Hammond, is considered to be one of the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the world.

He last fought at WEC 40 on April 5 in Chicago, where he successfully defended his WEC bantamweight title for the third consecutive time, beating Japanese striker Takeya Mizugaki in a five-round decision. It was the first time Torres had been taken past the third round in his career.

Torres, who grew up playing soccer more than baseball, said he's excited for the opportunity, but said the pace he keeps as a professional fighter seldom allows him the opportunity to attend games as a fan.

"All my buddies, they go to (see the) Sox, Bears, Cubs," Torres said Tuesday. "My family goes to games. They go to concerts. And it's like I'm always either training for a fight, fighting somewhere or with somebody else training them for a fight. It's like I never get to enjoy myself. So I'm killing three birds with one stone -- I get to hang out with my buddies, I get to go to a game and I get to do this pitch. This is an awesome experience. "

Though he'll be throwing out the first pitch likely in front of tens of thousands of fans, Torres said there won't be any nerves -- despite the best attempts from friends to give him some jitters.

"All my buddies are already makin' fun of me," Torres said. "They're like, 'Dude, you're not gonna make it (to home plate)!' or 'You're gonna look like a punk!' They're all trying to mess with me, trying to scare me. But I think I'll be good."

Torres said he has already started training for his next title defense, which is expected to come in August against top contender Brian Bowles. Bowles was Torres' originally scheduled opponent in April but had to pull out with a back injury a month before the fight.

Torres said the White Sox choosing to honor him with the first-pitch ceremony is a step in the right direction for the sport of MMA, which is considered by most to be a fringe sport and is only just beginning to be covered by mainstream media.

"I think it's huge," Torres said. "It's not just an honor -- it's huge as far as fighters being recognized to be invited to do something like this. Especially (for me) fighting at 135 pounds -- for the WEC, it's a huge thing."

Torres' career record is 37-1, though that doesn't count 12 victories obtained in local unsanctioned events prior to 2000. His lone loss came in 2003, a decision defeat at the hands of Ryan Ackerman at an Ironheart Crown event at the Hammond Civic Center. Torres avenged that loss two years later, submitting Ackerman with an armbar; Ackerman has not fought professionally since then.

Torres will throw out the first pitch at the Sox's home game at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday, May 6 against the Detroit Tigers, a 7:11 p.m. start.

For more MMA news, be sure to visit The Times' MMA Blog and news site at nwi.com/blogs/mma.

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