Josh Torres said he could have been in Los Angeles, fighting “The Ghost.”
Instead, he was at the Manuel Lujan Exhibition Hall at Expo New Mexico, making Jesus Alvarez Rodriguez look like one.
Torres, an Albuquerque welterweight boxer, needed just one minute, 16 seconds to starch Alvarez Rodriguez in the first round of a Legacy Promotions main event.
A right hand followed by a left from Torres (19-6-2, 11 knockouts) dropped Alvarez Rodriguez (15-6, 11 KOs) face first to the canvas. The Los Mochis, Mexico native did not come close to beating the count.
After the fight, Torres said he had an offer to fight former world champion Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on the undercard of Saturday’s Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder heavyweight championship bout at the Staples Center. He turned the fight down, he said, because he already had signed a contract to fight on the Legacy card.
“To me, my word is everything,” Torres said. “… Those (big) fights are gonna start coming. If we keep winning, looking impressive, they can’t keep ducking us. Something’s got to give.”
Alvarez Rodriguez was a late replacement for fellow Mexican fighter Mohamed Rodriguez, who withdrew due to an injury. Saturday’s loss was Alvarez Rodriguez’s sixth loss in a row, all by knockout or TKO, after having won his first 15 bouts.
Torres was at a significant weight disadvantage. Alvarez Rodriguez weighed in Friday at 155.4 pounds, well above the 147-pound welterweight limit, which Torres hit on the nose.
The New Mexico Athletic Commission, with Torres’ assent, allowed the fight to go on despite the weight disparity.
Of the knockout, Torres said, “I set him up with the right, angled out to my right and hit him with a left with a 45 (degree angle). We call it a 45, in between a left uppercut and a left hook.”
In Saturday’s co-main event, Aztec’s Joe Gomez (22-7-1, 10 KOs, 156.4 pounds) pounded out a victory by six-round split decision over Moris Rodriguez (7-12-1, 154.4, four KOs) of Sacramento, Calif.
Both fighters landed solid punches throughout, but those landed by Gomez, the bigger man, appeared to have more authority. The judges’ scores were 58-56 and 59-55 for Gomez, 58-56 for Rodriquez.
Gomez, who lost to Torres by six-round split decision in July 2012, lobbied after his fight Saturday for a rematch with his fellow New Mexican.
“I thought I won (the first one),” he said.
That could happen, Torres said later, but only if Gomez is willing and able to make the 147-pound welterweight limit.
In undercard fights:
• Matthew Esquibel (11-0-1, five KOs, 146), of Albuquerque, defeated Ricardo Alan Fernandez (3-11-4, 142.4), of Juarez, by six-round unanimous decision.
• Albuquerque’s Jose Luis Sanchez (8-1, three KOs, 154.4) defeated professional survivor Anthony Hill (1-26) of Oklahoma City by six-round unanimous decision.
• Albuquerque’s Lorenzo Benavidez (1-1, no KOs, 192.6 pounds) defeated Michael Sanchez (2-3, two KOs, 185) of Midland, Texas by four-round majority decision.
• Las Cruces’ Jaime Aguilera (pro debut, 133.4 pounds) defeated Albuquerque’s Levi Lucero (0-3), 134.8) by first-round TKO.
Benavidez, among the most unlikely-looking boxers one will see, was at least a foot shorter than Sanchez. But, at 192 pounds and standing approximately 5-foot-2, he landed punches from angles his much taller opponent might not have seen before.
The Albuquerque cruiserweight also did damage by putting Sanchez’s back to the ropes and negating the Texas fighter’s reach advantage.
Benavidez appeared to tire as the fight progressed, and Sanchez landed progressively more clean shots.
“It’s always tough in a fight like that,” Benavidez said. “Your adrenaline kind of gets the best of you. But I pushed through it.”
The judges’ scores were 39-37 and 39-37 for Benavidez, and 38-38.
In his pro debut, a loss by unanimous decision to fellow Albuquerquean Jesus Sanchez in September, Benavidez had weighed well over 200 pounds.
He felt better and faster, he said, as a cruiserweight.
“I lost 15, 16 pounds,” he said. “I felt great.”
Esquibel’s victory over Fernandez was a measuring stick of sorts. In October, Albuquerque’s Willie Villanueva beat Fernandez by unanimous decision. An Esquibel-Villanueva bout has been discussed.
The Esquibel-Fernandez scorecards read 60-54, 60-54 and 58-56 for Esquibel. When Villanueva defeated Fernandez, the scores were 60-54, 60-54 and 59-55.
Of the possibility of facing Villanueva, Esquibel said he’s willing.
“We’re friends,” he said, “but it’s business.”