Albuquerque boxer Josh Torres’ ring nickname is “Pitbull,” descriptive of his toughness and willingness to take a punch in order to deliver two or more.
That moniker, though, belies the boxing skills and ring intelligence Torres has acquired over the course of his almost two decades in the ring as a pro and amateur – learning from trainers like Richard Mirabal, Daniel Perez, his father, Al Torres, and, of course, Johnny Tapia.
Friday at Paradise Hills Golf Course, both Torres – the banger and the boxer – were on display as Torres defeated Michigan’s Reggie Harris Jr. by unanimous decision.
The Torres-Harris fight was the main event of a five-bout pro card promoted by Teresa Tapia, widow of the late, five-time world champion.
During the first two rounds, Torres (24-7-2, 14 knockouts) was in virtually complete control against the far less experienced Harris (7-1, three KOs).
All those lessons learned – 193 rounds in 32 previous fights over 14 years as a pro – have imbued Torres with an almost preternatural calm in the ring. Anticipating when and how Harris would attack, he was able to avoid or block his younger opponent’s blows with a minimum of movement.
In the third round, things changed. Harris began to find the range. Though Torres gave as good as he got, the round was a tossup.
For the entire remaining five rounds, Harris continued to land his share of blows. Yet, each time, Torres would respond with hard shots of his own, enough, more often than not, to tilt a round in his favor.
At the end, the outcome was not in doubt. One judge had it close, 77-75, but another scored every round for Torres. The Journal scored it 79-73, giving Harris only the eighth and final round.
During Tapia’s legendary pro career, a pattern evolved that he followed in many of his fights. After satisfying himself in the early rounds that he was the superior boxer and that his opponent couldn’t hurt him, he’d drop his hands and engage in a brawl – for the fans’ entertainment, and, it seemed, for his own.
After Friday’s victory, Torres said he’d in essence followed the plan of his revered former trainer.
“I could have made (the fight) a lot easier, but I love to give you guys great fights,” he told the crowd. “I love to bang.
“This is what I love doing at this point in my career. I like to put on exciting fights.”
And so, like Johnny, that’s what he did.
THE RETURN OF DIAMOND BOY: If Albuquerque’s Matthew “Diamond Boy” Griego-Ortega had accumulated any rust during a 26-month absence from the ring, it clearly had been knocked off in training before his victory on Friday by unanimous decision over California veteran Gilberto Mendoza.
Still dazzlingly quick of both hands and feet, Griego-Ortega (12-0, eight KOs) piled up an early lead against Mendoza (19-13-3, 10 KOs), a worthy opponent and no stranger to New Mexico. In 2015, Mendoza fought consecutive split draws against Española’s Tony Valdez.
In the later rounds, Mendoza, no doubt aware he was trailing, applied more pressure and created some discomfort for Griego-Ortega. That, though, he said, actually was a welcome development – a measuring stick.
“He’s a warrior,” Griego-Ortega said. “I knew he was gonna be tough, and that’s why I chose that fight, to see where I’m at after two years off. I’m just gonna work on the little flaws that I have, little shots that I got caught with, and we’re just gonna keep going on.”