12 Rounds With ... Karlos Balderas

The former Olympian turned lightweight prospect will continue his ascent up the pro ranks when he returns to the ring this Saturday on PBC on FOX.

Since representing the United States in the 2016 Olympic games in Brazil, Karlos Balderas (7-0, 6 KOs), has fought his way to an undefeated pro record, building a reputation as one of the best prospects in the game.

Saturday night at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, Balderas looks to continue his ascension, taking on a 35-fight veteran Luis May (21-13-1, 8 KOs).

Balderas' lightweight bout will be featured as part of a PBC card headlined by welterweights Danny “Swift” Garcia (34-2, 20 KOs) and Adrian Granados (20-6-2, 14 KOs) televised by FOX and FOX Deportes (8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT).

The 22-year-old Balderas will be gunning for his second knockout of the year, after forcing Jose Cen Torres to surrender on his stool in February.

Which aspect of your game has improved thus far in your professional career?

My composure, just staying more relaxed. I feel like I was rushing my fights a little bit, getting the stoppages early. I’ve always had a professional style. As far as the amateurs, a lot of people are with that point system, those pitty-pat punches. But I’ve been knocking people out since I was a kid in the amateurs.

I’ve always had power; I’ve always had a pro style. I just need to adapt to (the pro’s) more because of the number of rounds.

How does Karlos Balderas stack up with the best prospects?

I’ve been hurting people since I was a kid. People are gonna see with me, that I’m no hype. I don’t just knock out these first opponents, I’m gonna be knocking people out in title eliminators and world title bouts.

I’m not gonna say they’re not on my level, because these are all good fighters. I am a great fighter. These fighters, like Ryan (Garcia) are not on my level. He has not faced the opposition that I have faced, he has not been where I have been. Devin Haney is a good fighter as well, but time will tell who really is the real deal. I believe I’m up there with all these fighters, as a matter a fact I should say I believe all these fighters are up there with me. I’m about to put it on them this year.

Which fighters have you studied and do you feel have influenced you the most?

The fighter I study the most right now is “Sugar” Ray Leonard. The fighter who inspired me to become a boxer and an Olympian was Fernando Vargas. We kind of have the same background—we kind of came from broken homes. When he was growing up, he was getting into trouble, but then he turned his life around and became an Olympian and a world champion. That opened my eyes.

My four favorite fighters of all time: Fernando Vargas, Mike Tyson, “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Julio Cesar Chavez.

Do you have a favorite/best punch in your arsenal?

My left hook to the body. I have one of the best left hooks to the body. I’ve stopped most of my opponents already with a left hook to the body.

What is it about Mexican and Mexican-American fighters that typically make them really good body punchers?

It might be the old saying Julio Cesar Chavez used to say: “Kill the body and the head will fall.”

My coaches have told me you’re not gonna be able to knock everyone out—you’re gonna have to kill to the body if you really, really want to hurt them. I’ve had my hands hurt after the fight from trying to hit these guys in the head all night.

I’ve been hurting people since I was a kid. People are gonna see with me, that I’m no hype. Undefeated Lightweight Prospect - Karlos Balderas

What is your favorite kind of music?

I listen to a lot of Big Pun, Mobb Deep. Rest in peace to the homie Nipsey Hussle. I like to listen to Mac Miller, Cumbias—Spanish type of music—J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar.

What are your favorite movies of all time?

It would have to be Fury, The Godfather and Guess Who. Bernie Mac is so funny in Guess Who. Also, A Bronx Tale.

What does it mean to be the first-born United States citizen in your family?

I’m honored. My family comes from a lot of poverty, the bottom of the barrel. When my grandpa first came from Mexico, he didn’t have anywhere to sleep. He would sleep in the ditches of the strawberry fields with cardboard on top of him.

When me and my brother were growing up, we didn’t always grow up with my mom and dad. They were incarcerated at times.

A lot of my cousins weren’t born here and the reason they live the hard lives they live and work the jobs they do, is because they weren't born here. This country has been very, very good to me and my family.

Do you get a knockout on April 20?

Yeah, I'm confident. Whoever I fight, I don’t think they’re gonna take the heat that’s coming to them. I’m honestly on a different level. I feel like when I fight someone my age, experience or weight, they’re not good enough.

I feel like I need to fight someone with an advantage. If my opponent can take the heat, good for them, but they’re not gonna be the same.

Why is your ring name “Karlos” spelled with a K?

K for Killa; Killa Karlos. Every time I would spar or do something, they would shake my hand and say, “This kid’s a killer.” So, they just started calling me Killa Karlos.

Who would win the fights growing up between you and your brother?

Definitely my older brother. Although I beat him in size and weight, I have to think outside the box because he knows my style really good. Me and my brother have more of a “best friend” relationship.

Growing up me and him were always separated from our family, but me and him were never separated. He’s like my other half.

When did you know you were going to be a fighter?

I was getting into fights at school, getting suspended a lot. I remember my first day in the gym, there was an older kid there. All my life I’d get hit for fighting. My grandma would hit me—she would even hit me before school for what I’d do later in the day!

Anyway, we made a deal that if I beat the kid, I could come back to the gym. All my life I’ve been yelled at and have gotten in trouble for fighting and here I am now getting all this encouragement. When I went in there, I was like a natural. The owner asked, has this kid boxed before? I told him no, but I’ve fought before. From then on, it was okay sometimes to miss school—but not the boxing gym.

For a closer look at Karlos Balderas, check out his fighter page. 

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