Albuquerque boxers Matt “Diamond Boy” Griego-Ortega and Josh “Pitbull” Torres have earned the popularity they enjoy in their hometown through their performances in the ring.
Saturday night at Revel Entertainment Center, they’ll have to keep earning it.
Once the bell rings, there are no popularity contests.
Griego-Ortega (12-0, eight knockouts) is scheduled to face Puerto Rico’s Bryan Aquino (12-2, six KOs) in an eight-round flyweight main event.
Torres (24-7-2, 14 KOs) is matched against Louisianan Todd Manuel (21-21, six KOs) in a six-round welterweight co-main event.
Griego-Ortega and Torres have said they neither expect nor want an easy victory.
“It’s time for war, guys,” Griego-Ortega said at Friday’s weigh-in.
Aquino and Manuel, for their part, would love nothing more than to disappoint the local boys’ cheering fans.
Manuel, who last May went 10 rounds in a loss to former world champion Victor Ortiz, said fighting on the other guy’s home turf is nothing new for him.
“I didn’t come out here … to take a loss,” he said of his bout against Torres. “I came to pull the upset of the night.”
As of Friday’s weigh-in, only four fights totaling 22 rounds were scheduled after two previously scheduled bouts fell through.
Doris Robinson, director of boxing for Wrecking Crew Promotions – headed by Danny Ortega, Griego-Ortega’s father – was still seeking an opponent for Albuquerque super bantamweight Justice Jiron after his scheduled opponent withdrew.
Another scheduled bout featuring Albuquerque middleweight Jordanne Garcia became unsalvageable after Garcia’s opponent dropped out.
What the card lacks in depth, however, it promises to make up for in quality. Though nothing in a boxing ring is assured, both the main and co-main events shape up as competitive bouts likely to go the distance.
Given that he’s unbeaten, Griego-Ortega has never been stopped. Nor has Aquino, though he’s faced only one opponent – Ernesto Delgadillo (11-1-2), to whom he lost by unanimous decision in 2017 – with a record comparable to Griego-Ortega’s.
Neither main-event fighter knows a lot about the other.
“There’s not too much on (Aquino),” Griego-Ortega said “A couple of clips, but there’s not too much. We’ve just got to go in there and be able to adjust to anything, and that’s the plan.”
Aquino said he tends not to watch film of an upcoming opponent’s previous bouts.
“You can’t really study fights,” he said. “Every night is different.”
Aquino is left-handed, but Griego-Ortega, an orthodox fighter, has sparred many rounds with Albuquerque southpaw Fidel Maldonado Jr. and expects no problems from that standpoint. Torres, in contrast, believes he knows all he needs to know about Manuel.
“He’s a tough dude, a veteran of the game,” Torres said. “He’s been in the ring with a lot of great experienced fighters and he’s gone the distance with a lot of them.
“So I think just a victory (Saturday) won’t do anything for me. I have to do a victory in big fashion.”
Manuel, a tall welterweight at 6-foot-2, said he viewed Torres’ popularity – obvious to all at the weigh-in – as a source of motivation.
“It makes me want to go even harder,” he said, “to prove to everyone that I’m one of the best in the game.”