Which Josh Torres will the fans at Expo New Mexico see this time?
To a great extent, that depends on Francisco Javier Castro.
In other words, whatever it takes.
Torres, an Albuquerque welterweight, is scheduled to face Castro, of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, tonight in the main event of an eight-bout card at the Expo’s Manuel Lujan Exhibition Hall.
If history is a guide, Torres (19-6-2, 11 knockouts) will gauge the force of Castro’s punches and adjust accordingly.
In his April 2015 bout at the Albuquerque Convention Center against Ranee Ganoy, a powerful puncher, Torres used superior quickness and boxing skills to take a victory by majority decision.
It was a performance a master boxer like Floyd Mayweather Jr. could have admired.
There is, though, a lot of Johnny Tapia – Albuquerque’s late, five-time world champion – in Torres’ boxing personality. Before his death, in fact, Tapia was Torres’ trainer and mentor.
In Torres’ June 2018 fight at Route 66 Casino against fellow Albuquerquean Cristian Cabral, he felt Cabral’s punches early and was confident he could absorb them.
So, as Tapia so often did, Torres went flat-footed and engaged Cabral in a New Mexico fight-of-the-year candidate before winning by seventh-round TKO.
In Castro (28-9, 23 KOs), Torres faces a battle-tested opponent with an impressive knockout ratio.
“He’s definitely dangerous,” Torres said in a phone interview. “One thing I feel is most dangerous about him is that he’s had a lot of time to train for me and to prepare for this fight.
“I know in a lot of his losses he’s taken fights on short notice (against) big-name fighters like Errol Spence and Julian Williams. So I know this time around he’ll be ready and he’s not gonna lay down.”
Castro has lost five of his last six fights, but to impressive opposition. Spence (25-0, 21 KOs), generally considered among the sport’s five best pound-for-pound, stopped Castro in the fifth round in December 2014.
Williams (26-1-1), who’s scheduled to challenge Jarrett Hurd in May for three versions of the world junior middleweight title, stopped Castro in the second round last December. But Castro was on his feet when the fight was stopped.
Castro has impressive knockout victories over Javier Monserrat (24-1-2 at the time) and Jesús Pabón (17-1). But those fights took place more than seven years ago.
Torres has never been knocked down in 27 professional fights, and, likely only when he feels Castro’s power will his fight plan – boxing match or slugfest – be determined.
FEATURED: An all-New Mexico junior middleweight bout between José Luís Sanchez and Joe Gomez and an all-Albuquerque welterweight bout between Willie Villanueva and Matthew Esquibel highlight the undercard.
Gomez (22-7-1, 10 KOs), of Aztec, and Sanchez (8-1, three KOs), of Albuquerque, both have lost to Torres and both have expressed interest in a rematch.
Torres is cool to the idea, but said he’ll never say never.
“I’m excited for that fight (Gomez-Sanchez), because I think it’s a great matchup,” Torres said. “… (But a rematch) doesn’t make sense to me. I definitely don’t gain anything from it.
“But I’m always willing to put up great fights. If it’s something that interests them and I don’t have anything else going on, then I don’t see why it couldn’t happen.”
Esquibel has never lost as a pro (11-0-1, five KOs), but Villanueva (11-5-1, two KOs), is the most seasoned opponent Esquibel has faced.
HEAVY WEIGHT: Of the 16 boxers on tonight’s card, four came in over weight at Friday’s weigh-in. That number includes Castro, Torres’ opponent, who weighed 149.6 – 2.6 pounds over the contracted weight.
Torres weighed in at a chiseled 144.8 pounds.
Castro’s excess poundage was not expected to endanger the fight.