The COVID-19 pandemic, it appears, barely laid a glove on Albuquerque boxer Josh Torres.
Yes, the state’s COVID restrictions kept him away from his day job as a barber for two months in the spring of 2020. Yes, he signed a contract with a new promotional company that then walked away from boxing due to the pandemic.
And yes, he lost the only fight he’s had in the past 20 months.
Now, however, Torres is back behind his chair at Jake’s 4th Street Barber Shop. He, his wife, Ariana, and sons Julian and Princeton recently moved into a new home.
And come Saturday, he’ll be back in the ring — headlining a pro-am card promoted by Teresa Tapia at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero.
Torres (22-7-2, 13 knockouts) is scheduled to face Jose Morales (8-9, two KOs) of Thornton, Colorado.
The Saturday card will constitute the first professional boxing to be staged in the state since March 7, 2020.
“I don’t know much about (Morales), but I know I’ve been training my butt off to give NM what they’ve been missing for nearly two years,” Torres told the Journal in an interview conducted on social media.
The popular Albuquerque welterweight said he expects friends, family and fans to make the 3 ½-hour drive to Mescalero, providing the atmosphere he craves and that he missed when last he fought.
On Sept. 6 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, in a COVID-safe bubble with no fans present, Torres lost by a unanimous, 10-round decision to Canada’s Cody Crowley (19-0, nine KOs). There’s no blaming the loss on the atmosphere, given that Crowley won every round on all three official scorecards.
But the experience, Torres said, made him more appreciative than ever of the fans for whom he fights.
“I learned that ‘the bubble’ is is something I never want to go back to,” he said. “It was a challenge being isolated from my family (other than Al Torres, his father and head trainer) and my fans.
“I always pictured my first fight in California to be more eventful.”
Torres is now 0-3 in the sort of high-risk, high-reward fights that might have led to greater opportunities and bigger paydays had he won: losses to Dusty Hernandez Harrison at Madison Square Garden in 2013, to Mike Alvarado (a fight many observers thought Torres won) in Dallas in 2016 and to Crowley.
Neither Torres’ age, 31, nor the lopsidedness of the Crowley fight has caused him to lower his sights.
The Crowley loss, he said, “did light a fire under me and made me realize how much harder I need to work to compete at that level.
“I’m putting it in my rear-view (mirror) and going full throttle looking towards the future.”
THE CARD: Saturday’s pro portion of the card features El Paso veteran junior lightweight Antonio Escalante (29-10, 20 KOs), who is matched against Adam Ochoa (5-2-1, three KOs) of Amarillo, Texas.
The amateur portion is scheduled to feature the debuts of Johnny Lorenzo Tapia and Johnny Niccolai Tapia, adopted sons of Teresa Tapia and her late husband, Johnny Tapia, a five-time world champion.
COMING UP: Saturday, Warriors on the Rez — Amateur card noon, pro card 6 p.m.; Tickets $40-$75, ticketmaster.com