Josh Torres knows he can’t be a boxer forever.
He can, however, be part of the Albuquerque boxing scene for years, even decades to come.
And that’s what he intends to do.
Torres has been part of that local boxing scene for so long, it’s hard to believe he’s only 28 years old. Having turned pro at 18, he’s had 24 bouts the past decade.
Fight No. 25 is scheduled for Saturday. He’s scheduled to face Moris Rodriguez in the main event of an eight-bout card at Route 66 Casino Hotel.
Torres has a full-time job as a barber and owns a home in Albuquerque’s South Valley. Extra income, of course, is welcome. He’s married to Ariana and has two sons, Julian, 6, and Princeton, 1. His father, Alfred, is his trainer.
But, Torres said, it’s his love for the sport, not money, that drives him.
“It’s really hard to say,” he said, when asked how much longer he plans to continue fighting. “I don’t think I’ll ever leave the sport. … I have a passion for fighting, absolutely. I have a passion for training. I have a passion just for helping others, for making other people feel good.”
Torres draws the line at making his opponents feel good. In Rodriguez (7-10-1, four KOs), he’s facing a veteran “gate-keeper” whose 18 previous opponents had a cumulative record of 96-17-7 record when he faced them.
“I know he’s a slugger,” he said of Rodriguez. “I know he comes forward and he’s not afraid to exchange.
“He’s coming in to fight. I know I’m in for a tough fight, so I’ve prepared for that.”
Torres’ preparation has been done mostly in a boxing gym he created a few months ago in his garage. Gone, for the post part, are the commutes from the barber shop to Jack Candelaria Community Center to home.
That means more time with his family. Equally important, he said, “It helps out with the distractions, to help me really focus down and put in the work we need to get in.”
Torres has not fought since April, when he defeated John David Charles by third-round TKO at the Manuel Lujan Building at Expo New Mexico. This is the longest layoff of his career, but ring rust, he said, should not be a problem.
“I don’t feel like I’ve been off that long,” he said. “I’ve been busy training fighters, helping them get ready for amateur fights.”
In January, Torres spent two weeks in Philadelphia serving as a sparring partner for former world champion Danny Garcia, helping him prepare for his Feb. 17 fight against Brandon Rios.
Albuquerque’s Hector Muñoz, Torres’ former teammate under the tutelage of the late Johnny Tapia, also sparred with Garcia — who beat Rios by ninth-round TKO.
The work with Garcia, Torres said, jump-started his training camp for Rodriguez. Since returning home, Torres has sparred primarily with Muñoz and with Christian Castillo, a young Albuquerque boxer who’s scheduled to make his pro debut on Saturday’s card.
Torres’ career has had its bumps, as his record (16-6 -2, eight KOs) suggests. Before the Charles fight, he had lost three of his previous four. But he continues to look for a breakthrough, high-profile victory that would lift him beyond the local and regional identity he has fashioned.
He’s had some opportunities.
In November 2013, he fought rising star Dusty Hernandez Harrison, then 17-0, at Madison Square Garden. Torres lost by lopsided unanimous decision, but according to news accounts acquitted himself well. More than three years later, Hernandez is still undefeated.
In June 2016, Torres fought former interim world champion Mike Alvarado in Dallas. Torres lost by majority decision in a fight many observers thought the Albuquerquean won.
Promoters and booking agents, Torres said, have his phone number. He credits former Albuquerque promoter Joe Chavez with helping him get such opportunities in the past but says he’s his own manager.
“I’ve done everything on my own,” he said. “Now, people call me, and I’m able to work my own fights that way. … That’s how I was able to get in camp with Danny Garcia.”
Saturday’s fight is crucial, Torres said, to his hopes of getting that big breakthrough. But equally important, he said, “It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come, just to show these up-and-coming fighters that they can go from the undercard to the main event.”