By Austin Killeen
I paid a visit to the home of Josh and Arii Torres earlier this week, “Pitbull was enjoying down time with his beautiful wife and two children Julian and Prince. Josh has a beautiful home on the Westside of Albuquerque. He has much to celebrate this holiday season including the birth of his second son, Prince, born in January. Although Jose and his family celebrate Christmas he’s concerned it has become too commercialized. He commented “we believe in Christmas and in celebrating the life of Jesus Christ. However, we don’t like to buy into all the things that Christmas in not about, the gifts and traditions that have been passed on over the years. We like it to be more family oriented, teach our sons it’s not about the gifts but showing appreciation to one and other and the life of Jesus.” Judging from some of the tasteless Christmas cards on sale this year, Josh makes a compelling argument. I’ve known Josh for six years, when it comes to family, it’s not just a bunch of words; he walks the walk.
It didn’t take long for the conversation to switch over to 2018 and what the future holds for the “Duke City” favorite. Josh commented, “I scored a TKO win over John David Charles in April of this year, but then my career stalled. Eric Martinez, one of the promoters for Legacy Promotions passed away and when they finally did promote a card I wasn’t available.” Prior to the Charles bout I had criticized Torres for not showing any passion, seemingly going through the motions. In that contest Torres was on fire and looked ready to make an impact on the boxing scene. I’ve always liked Torres and anyone would be proud to have him as a son, but I never let personal feelings interfere with my fight coverage. To his credit Josh has never taken issue with anything I’ve written about him and after his win over Charles said he agreed with what I had written. That’s a good thing because I don’t think I’d last more than a few seconds in the ring with “Pitbull.”
I first saw Torres box on the undercard of Holly Holm upset loss to Anne Sophie Mathis in December of 2011. Josh won a hard fought contest against Joel Vargas. This was a rematch of a four round draw they had the previous year. Like Torres, Vargas was very strong, but lacked the Albuquerque fighter’s skill set. Torres used a strong left jab and solid defense to win a six round decision. I liked what I saw that evening and he has more than lived up to that early promise. Look at his record and you’ll see a boxer who believes in himself and ducks no one. Raul Carrillo, Joe Gomez, Dusty Hernandez Harrison, Jose Marrufo (2), Ranee Ganoy, Cameron Krael, and Mike Alvarado are a tough group of fighters. Only Austin Trout and Fidel Maldonado have faced this type of competition on a regular basis and enjoyed success. That’s why they are the three best fighters in New Mexico, P4P.
Josh is now in his late twenties and is ready to make a serious run at the big time. His win over Ganoy took place in April of 2015, since then his career seems to be stuck in the La Brea Tar Pits. He is two and three in his last five bouts, but if the fire is still in his belly he could make a serious run. He is always in terrific shape and has a chin made out of cement; having never been off his feet amateur or pro. He has a decent punch, good boxing skills and above average defense. In difficult fights he has shown the ability to figure out his opponents and break them down in the second half of a contest. Simply put, this young man is a tough matchup for anyone.
Looking ahead to 2018 one of Josh’s strengths is his work ethic in the gym. He commented, “My biggest thing is I like to help other people grow. My success isn’t based on what I achieve, but what I can help others achieve.” I talked about his sparring with Fidel Maldonado and Brian Mendoza, as they are tough in their own right. He responded “iron sharpens iron, when we’re in the ring together that’s world class sparring; it looks real. When I get tagged I made a mistake and I better fix it before I get tagged again. I don’t get mad at them.” I commented to Josh that he seems to gain something even when he spars with an inexperienced boxer. He replied “I think there’s always something to learn, it may not be what you expected, but you keep building things here and there.” For the record Josh has expanded his role in the gym and is working with young fighters himself.
I had to ask Josh the obvious question, “Where do you see yourself at this point in your career?” He answered, “I’m two or three fights away from another opportunity, another big fight against Mike Alvarado or something of that nature. I’m looking for something where I can test myself and hopefully come out with a victory.” His win over Charles seemed to put him on the right track, but now eight months have passed with no ring activity. Torres responded, “I feel like it was just last month, I feel like I haven’t been off as long as I have. I’ve been in the gym and I’ve been helping some amateurs get ready for a fight. I’ve been running with them, training with them and taking them to the fights. Being in their corner was almost as if I was fighting with them.” As we continued to talk, Torres expressed the hope that if he could get a couple of wins there may be a possibility of getting Mike Alvarado to come to Albuquerque. Josh is a great ticket seller and that fight would sell out a large venue in the “Duke City.”
Looking back on his career so far I wondered what he was most proud of. Josh answered; “One of my biggest wins would have to be winning the green belt when I beat Ranee Ganoy. That dude had hammer in his fists, but he had a slow jab and he couldn’t close that gap between us. Probably when I went to New York, I came away with a decision loss, but to fight in Madison Square Garden itself was a win. And of course the Jab Judah fight, even though it never happened. We were there in Vegas, seeing my name in digital billboards walking down the strip.” Even though the fight never happened, I thought Torres won the prefight weigh in. Josh is a wonderful public speaker and Judah just wasn’t in his league. Josh also mentioned his exciting win over Joe Gomez after losing to Raul Carrillo.
I switched subjects and asked about fighting someone locally. Josh answered “There’s nobody here for me locally, if I fight somebody here it would be taking a step back. I’m looking at the bigger picture.” I brought up the names of the two people that “Pitbull” trains with all the time, they’re friends but… Josh was candid, “At the end of the day anything is possible.” It was clear that they’re both friends of Josh and they help each other’s careers. All three are warriors and not afraid of each other, but that’s a place that Josh is clearly not interested in going. You can’t put a price on friendship.
The welterweight division is loaded with talent and we tossed some names around. Once again Torres impressed me with his honesty, when we talked about Shawn Porter. Josh replied, “I’ve always said I’d hate to share the ring with Shawn Porter. He’s good but he’s an ugly, rugged fighter and anybody who gets in there with him will be cut and bleeding. I’m not in a hurry to jump in the ring with Shawn Porter, not because I don’t think I can beat him; it’s just such a ugly hard style to fight.” You can’t fault Torres for his honesty; he doesn’t try to duck around any question.
Finally I asked Josh who his trainer is now. Josh replied, “My father.” Josh’s father doesn’t get much love regarding his son’s success and flies under the radar. I’m as guilty of this lack of acknowledgement as anyone. I’ve seen Alfred train boxers many times, including Josh, but it never seemed to register with me. Josh Torres might be a classy young man, but he didn’t raise himself. I assume that Alfred played a big role on how his son turned out as a person. If Jose has future success in the boxing ring, maybe Alfred Torres will finally get some love.
Boxing might have been what attracted me to Josh, but being a good father and husband is what defines him as a success. I enjoy watching the Torres family in action because Arii and Josh have strong values and are passing them onto their children. I enjoyed doing this interview.
Merry Christmas to everyone, May you have a very special day with family and friends!!