Boxing: Torres spars hard, has fun in Philly

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Albuquerque boxer Josh Torres is scheduled to come home today after 13 days of sparring with former world champion Danny "Swift" Gonzales in Philadelphia. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

On Sept. 8 in Brooklyn, N.Y., boxer Danny “Swift” Garcia will face Shawn Porter for the vacant World Boxing Council welterweight title. For Garcia, the fight is both a huge opportunity and a major challenge.

That’s why, in the quest for rugged, high-quality sparring, Garcia dialed up Josh “Pit Bull” Torres.

Torres, an Albuquerque welterweight, has been in Garcia’s hometown of Philadelphia serving as a sparring partner since Aug. 8. Torres was scheduled to fly home today.

It’s the second time around for Torres. He spent time in Philly before Garcia’s victory by ninth-round TKO over Brandon Rios in February.

The money’s not bad, Torres said in a phone interview from Philadelphia, but it’s the opportunity to be in the ring with Garcia, for the advancement of his own career, that he most values.

Garcia (34-1, 20 knockouts) has held world titles at both 140 and 147 pounds. After losing for the first time in his career to Keith Thurman by split decision in March 2017, the Philadelphia fighter needs to get past Porter (28-2, 17 KOs) to again become a world champion.

“(The money) is decent,” Torres said. “It’s definitely not what I would make back home (for a fight), But it’s good money. … They definitely do take care of us here. They pay for our flights, they pay us per diem.

“(But) the experience itself is worth coming out here on the trip. … The experience of getting in the ring with a world champion is something most people would do for free, so the fact that they’re paying us for it, it’s great.”

This is not, Torres said, a lap-of-luxury situation. Garcia’s DSG Boxing Gym is located in Philadelphia’s gritty Juniata Park neighborhood, where Garcia grew up, and Torres has been billeted in modest nearby lodging.

“It’s comfortable,” he said. “… They want to keep us close because they don’t want to have to transport us. … But it’s close to a lot of restaurants and a Walmart. I’ve always been good with a budget, so I can make (the per diem) last. It’s not bad at all.”

Though Torres and Garcia are both practitioners of the Sweet Science, there’s not a lot scientific about their sparring sessions.

His charge, Torres said, is essentially to put as much pressure on Garcia as he can.

“It’s what he needs,” Torres said. “I don’t know if that’s what he wants, because nobody really likes that kind of pressure, in your face, rugged style. But it’s definitely what Shawn Porter’s gonna bring on fight night, so it’s definitely what we’re preparing him for.”

As he was before the Rios fight, Torres was told up front that he wouldn’t be required to simulate Porter’s style — simply bring the pressure.

Nonetheless, he said, as he’d done for the pre-Rios sparring, he took it upon himself to study Porter.

“I kind of just do it because I know that’s what (Garcia) needs,” he said. “… So, yeah, I am kind of mimicking who he’ll be looking at on fight night.”

As talented and skilled as Garcia is, Torres said he has actually learned more about his chosen sport out of the ring than in the ring while in Philly.

After sparring sessions, he’s hung out a bit in the gym with Garcia and his father/trainer, Angel.

“I’m definitely learning a lot from (the Garcias) on the business side of boxing, especially talking with Angel with just all the experience that he brings outside of the ring,” Torres said. “I’m learning how they manage their money, how they invest in their businesses and things like that.”

Torres, a 28-year-old with an 18-6-2 record (10 KOs), is married with two young children. Before traveling to Philadelphia to spar with Garcia for the Rios fight, he’d never been away from his family for any length of time.

“Both times have been the longest (he’s been away),” he said. “It’s a little bit of a shock to have to cope with that.”

This time, though, Torres’ wife, Arii Rae, flew to Philadelphia for the past weekend with sons Julian and Prince.

“That’s going to give me a little second wind, and it’ll be the perfect way to finish off the trip,” he said.

The sparring sessions have been physical, Torres said, but he hasn’t seen them as hard work. It’s just what a sparring partner does.

“It’s definitely all fun,” he said. “It’s fun being on this side of the training as opposed to when you’re training for your own fight and you’re trying to dial in on what’s got to be done.”

As for the positive effects of the sparring with Garcia on his own career, Torres noted that he has won his last two fights — in March over Moris Rodriguez and in June over fellow Albuquerquean Cristian Cabral — by TKO.

“I think that pressure style suits me,” he said, “and I’m learning how to use my power and get these guys out of there.”

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