Josh Torres wants that green belt.
Torres, a welterweight boxer from Albuquerque, is scheduled to face Phoenix’s Jose Marrufo on Saturday in the main event of a five-bout professional card that starts at 7 p.m. at the McKernan Events Center in the South Valley.
The World Boxing Council’s United States Boxing Championship 147-pound title is at stake.
In November at Madison Square Garden, Torres fought for another of the WBC’s trademark green belts. He lost by unanimous decision to unbeaten Dusty Hernandez Harrison.
“That’s what every young fighter looks forward to,” Torres (13-3-1, six knockouts) said of a second chance to wrap a title belt around his waist.
“I’m just very honored to have that opportunity once again, and it’s even more of a blessing that it’s gonna be in my hometown in front of all my family and friends.”
Nothing in Marrufo’s résumé suggests he’s likely to prevent Torres from winning that belt – nor that the Phoenix boxer belongs in a title fight.
Marrufo (4-2-1, no KOs) has won his last four bouts, but has not defeated an opponent with a winning record. He has never gone past six rounds.
Torres is far more experienced and battle-tested.
He went 10 rounds in his loss to Hernandez Harrison. Torres’ record includes victories over fellow New Mexican Joe Gomez (18-6-1 at the time of the fight) and El Paso veteran Bernardo Guereca (16-16).
Underestimating his opponent, Torres said, is a mistake he won’t make.
“We’re expecting nothing short of a hungry fighter. … But we’re prepared for that,” Torres said. “We’ve been in his position.
“We’ve been the underdog going into someone’s backyard before, so we know what to expect. We plan to use our experience, our size and our skill to prevail that night.”
Torres is in the midst of a career transition. Chris Chavez, who has trained him since the death of Johnny Tapia in May 2012, has moved to Las Vegas, Nev.
It has been a smooth transition, he said. Torres’ father, Alfred, has taken the reins.
“My dad has always been there in my corner, regardless,” Torres said. “He might have not always necessarily have been my trainer, but he’s always been there – second voice, second opinion, and now it just makes us that much stronger.
“Minor changes, but still the same work, still the same hunger.”
Torres feeds himself, and his family, primarily as a barber. He works full time at Jakes Fourth Street Barber Shop in the Barelas Neighborhood.
Though he enjoys his work, he aspires to be a full-time boxer like Tapia, his late mentor and trainer.
“Absolutely, that would be a dream come true,” he said. “To be able to be in a position to even coach fighters, build my own gym, that kind of thing. Boxing has always been my passion.
“But barbering has been good to me, as well; it’s a great profession. Hair’s always growing, so I always have that as a Plan B.”
A title belt, he believes, could be a major statement on the path toward Plan A.
In Saturday’s semimain event, junior middleweight Arturo Crespin (11-3-1, four KOs) of Las Vegas, N.M., is matched against 40-year-old veteran Augustine Renteria (10-25-6, three KOs) of Tucson.