In February, Albuquerque boxer Josh Torres and his wife, Ariana, are expecting a blessed event — a boy, their second.
“Another sparring partner,” Torres said this week.
But first, on Saturday at the MCM Elegante Hotel, he’ll be fighting a main event — his 10th in the past four years. All but one of those have been staged in his home state.
In a curious but genuine way, Torres at age 26 has become a father figure for New Mexico boxing.
It’s a responsibility he takes to heart.
“That’s what it’s all about, paving the way for the next generation,” Torres said. “I can only fight for so long, and I’m already content with how my career has turned out.
“I’ve met some cool people and seen some cool places along the way, and from here on out I just want to continue to lead the way and inspire these up-and-coming fighters.”
That career contentment shouldn’t suggest that Torres (15-5-2, seven KOs) is no longer hungry to win or focused on improvement. This next main event affords a chance for both.
His eight-round draw two years ago with Phoenix’s Jose Marrufo still rankles, and they’ll meet again over eight rounds Saturday.
Torres described Marrufo (9-5-2, no KOs) as being “very tough, but I remember he was really wild. He threw a lot of wild shots, but he definitely came to fight.
“We know he’s not a pushover. We know we’re in for another tough fight, but we know we have a good game plan going in.”
A good game plan, Torres said, is what he didn’t have when the two fighters first met. After that fight, he engaged former Albuquerque boxer Daniel Perez as his trainer.
He is 2-2 since then, but that record is deceiving. He lost by majority decision to Cameron Kreal while dealing with an eye injury suffered in the fourth round. He lost by the same route to former world champion Mike Alvarado in a fight some observers thought the Albuquerquean won.
Torres believes he should have gotten the decision in the first Marrufo fight, but acknowledges it wasn’t one of his better performances.
“I didn’t have the right game plan,” he said. “I just fought the wrong kind of fight.
“This time, we plan on making it a lot more obvious, a lot more clear who the winner will be.”
The past six months, Torres said, have matured him and toughened him in more ways than one.
In March, Torres was scheduled to face former world champion Zab Judah in Las Vegas, Nev.
The day before the fight, the Nevada Athletic Commission scrapped it because Judah and promoter Roy Englebrecht misrepresented information on Judah’s license application.
In June, Torres went to Dallas and fought on even terms with Alvarado.
Now, Torres said, “I’m just a better fighter in general. … I feel like I’ve learned a lot, gained a lot.
“Coming off the fallout with Zab Judah, just going through that. Coming off a great fight with Alvarado, I feel I’m just in different league now, a different caliber fighter.”
Saturday’s bout will be fought at the welterweight limit of 147, not at 140-pound junior welterweight limit at which the first Marrufo fight was contested. Torres had been struggling to make 140, he said, before moving up to welterweight for his most recent two fights.
“We’re gonna be stronger and more prepared to fight (at 147),” he said.
Tonight’s undercard features several young New Mexicans who hope to become the main-event fighters of the future — in particular the Sanchez brothers, 23-year-old junior middleweight José Luís (5-1, two KOs) and 21-year-old featherweight Jason (7-0, three KOs).
“It’s great to know that the card is so full with up-and-coming fighters with so much potential, to know I was right there early in my career taking the kind of fights that these young lions are taking ” Torres said.
“One day they’ll be headlining these kinds of cards, so it feels good to see that the seeds I’ve been planting are all starting to harvest.”
Josh Torres vs. Jose Marrufo, several other bouts, MCM Elegante Hotel, 6 p.m. Tickets: $25-$50, holdmyticket.com