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Boxing: Route 66 back in the game

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After a four-year, 10-month absence, professional boxing returns tonight to Route 66 Casino Hotel.

If co-promoters Jordan and Aaron Perez have their way, they’ll be going that route again — and soon.

Albuquerque welterweight Josh Torres (16-6-2, eight knockouts) is matched in tonight’s eight-round main event against Sacramento’s Moris Rodriguez (7-10 — provided Rodriguez can trim 1.4 pounds after weighing in at 148.4 pounds on Friday afternoon.

Torres, who weighed in at a chiseled 144.4, said the contract calls for each fighter to weigh no more than the welterweight limit of 147.

In a six-round semi-main, unbeaten Albuquerque featherweight Jason Sanchez (11-0, six KOs) is set to face Mexican veteran (and then some) German Meraz (58-46-2, 35 KOs).

Six bouts are scheduled.

Between December 2010 and May 2013, Route 66 was the site of six pro boxing cards — all with Albuquerque’s Holly Holm in the main event. Thereafter, Holm left boxing for MMA, and Lenny Fresquez, Holm’s promoter, followed suit.

Meanwhile, the Perez brothers’ company, Legacy Promotions, found itself looking for a more or less permanent home.

Since Legacy was founded in 2015 by the Perez brothers and their partner, the late Eric Martinez, it has staged cards at Camel Rock Casino, north of Santa Fe (three); the Albuquerque Convention Center; outdoors at the National Hispanic Cultural Center;  the MCM Elegante Hotel, and the Lujan Building at Expo New Mexico.

Jordan Perez said Friday he and his brother hope to create — well, OK — a legacy at Route 66.

“If it all goes well tomorrow, we’ll announce a second one,” he said. “It’s looking good. … We want to find a home.”

It will be a homecoming of sorts for Torres, who fought at Route 66 on a Holm undercard — defeating Joel Vargas by unanimous decision — in December 2011.

Rodriguez’s record is deceiving, in that 13 of his 18 opponents had winning records entering those fights. He’s coming off an upset, fourth-round knockout of Zachary Wohlman, who was 10-2-2 at the time.

“He’s tough, but I feel once he feels my power he’s gonna start to retreat,” Torres said. “That’s when I have to move forward, put the pressure on and get him out of there.”

In the semi-main, Sanchez is facing an opponent who has averaged eight bouts a year since turning pro in 2005. Meraz has fought former and future world champions.

Jordan Perez said Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions is interested in signing Sanchez and is eager to see how he fares against a ring-wise veteran like Meraz.

HURRY UP AND WEIGHT:  Three fighters scheduled to perform tonight, including Rodriguez, failed to make weight on Friday.

Albuquerque’s Christian Castillo (1-0, one KO) weighed 145.2 pounds for his scheduled four-rounder against Timothy Ruiz (1-0, one KO). The junior welterweight limit is 140.

Levi Lucero (pro debut) weighed 131.2 pounds for his four-rounder against fellow Albuquerquean Aaron Angel Perez (pro debut). The featherweight limit is 126.

Richard Espinoza, executive secretary of the New Mexico Athletic Commission, said Rodriguez, Castillo and Lucero would be given two hours to drop as many pounds as possible. Beyond that, he said, it ultimately would be the commission’s decision how to proceed.