The fighters have never seen each other before. In fact, Torrence had no idea until now that Schommer fights left-handed. Schommer thinks Torrence is a major test. "I heard he fought Donny Lalonde," Schommer says.
No, but Torrence has been pummeled by some of the best: Troy Darrell (20-0 at the time), Donald Curry (12-0), Buddy McGirt (10-0-1), Darrin (Schoolboy) Van Horn, Italian champion Gianfranco Rosi, Nino La Rocca, Matthew Farrago and numerous others. Torrence is a human notch in the ring post of boxing.
Like Cowans, Torrence once was a prospect. In the AAU 147-pound quarterfinals in 1979, he lost to the eventual champion, Curry. He was runner-up to Curry the next year in the national Golden Gloves. Torrence won seven of his first eight pro bouts. "I seen I had the talent," he says. "I knew I could make a little money in boxing. I seen Leonard and Ali. I was seeking fame and fortune. I pushed myself. Maybe I should have pushed myself more."
The truth is that "Jake wanted it too bad," says Taylor, and he began signing deals with three and four promoters at once. He would take the best check, even if it wasn't the best fight.
Pretty soon, Torrence had too many losses to be considered a contender. Taylor took him over and tried to ease him slowly out of boxing. He got Torrence a steady job as a garbageman, but Torrence kept quitting. "I was making $5.50 an hour then," Torrence says. "I'd probably be up to $6.20 now. I thought I was gonna have a big-time career."
Taylor was a fighter himself until his trainer, Eddie Futch, told him, "Go home, son, and get yourself a job." Now Taylor can't work up the nerve to tell Torrence the same thing again.
"What am I gonna do?" he says. "Jake needs a skill. He doesn't have no job. Am I gonna send a guy straight from pro boxing—with the applause of the crowd in his ears—right to the welfare line?"
Taylor has tried hard to get the most out of Torrence, but it isn't easy. "I'll be honest with you," Taylor said one day as he waited for Torrence to show up to train. "Jake messes with that cocaine. He gets a little money, and ain't nothin' important to him."
Now, Torrence is just a store-bought W for most fighters. In his career, he has fought at home in Gary only four times. The biggest purse he has ever gotten is $4,500.
It's 2:30 p.m.—about seven hours before the fight—and Torrence has a bowl full of spaghetti and half a baked chicken in front of him. That uses up more than the $10 food money the promoter allows him per day, but it's his best meal in a week. As Torrence eats, Taylor takes his turn at reworking Destiny. "We win this fight," Taylor says, "and we're talking about more recognition, more money, getting to fight at home for once. We're in the area now that it's either do or die. We're going to do it. One of these days, I'm going to stand in the champion's corner."