“The US is awesome, the boxing is on another level over here which is great because it’s forced me to step up my game and take that next step as a fighter.”
Super featherweight fighter Will Tomlinson moved to America last year and signed a five-fight deal with top promoter Golden Boy. He makes his US debut on the undercard of the Saul Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo fight in Las Vegas on March 8.
The Victorian brawler has the chance to make a name for himself in the world’s premier boxing market. In 2013 he was in Vegas as a spectactor, in 2014 he will be there as a fighter.
“It’s every fighters dream to fight at the MGM in Vegas, and to do it on such a big card on my US debut I think it’s pretty damn cool.”
Tomlinson has based himself in West Hollywood and is being trained by Manny ‘Super’ Robles.
A promising young trainer who learnt from his father, Manuel ‘Chato Robles, Manny Robles has worked with several members of the US Olympic team.
“I started trainng with Manny after a mutual friend of ours recommended we did some work together. We instantly clicked and the rest is history.
“Manny is a real professional, he works you hard and has a great boxing brain. We’re working really well together and think we will only keep getting better.”
Tomlinson’s opponent on March 8 is 25-year-old American Jerry Belmontes. The Texan has a record of 18 wins and three losses from 21 fights and should be tailor-made for the Australian. Ranked 162 in the world by BoxRec, while Tomlinson is fifth, Belmontes has lost three of his last four fights.
“He’s a pretty slick, evasive fighter but I’ll be able to cut the ring off make him fight me and break him down and do what I got to do to win.”
“[But] there is no such thing as an easy fight. I never judge a book by its cover and am taking this fight as serious if not more serious than any other fight I have been in.”
Tomlinson’s deal with Golden Boy gives him a chance to stake a claim in the US. Although there are no guarantees, as the cautionary tale of fellow Australian Billy Dib shows, if the 27-year can win and win in style then bigger fights will follow.
“I’m tipping they want to see an exciting dominant performance, and that’s what I plan on giving them. Of course the fans pay to see entertaining fights and lucky for me that style of fighting comes pretty natural to me. So I don’t really have to think to hard about trying to make an exciting fight it just seems to happen for me.”
With an IBO strap in his possession, Tomlinson wants a shot at one of the IBF, WBO, WBA or WBC belts. Of the current super featherweight champions, Japan’s WBC belt holder Takashi Miura is the one he would ideally like to meet first.
“I would fight any of them in a heartbeat. But if I could choose one, give me Miura.”
These are heady days for Australian boxing. For too long Aussie fighters have stayed at home and took on second-rate opponents, but in recent years the likes of Daniel Geale, Alex Leapai, Lucas Browne, Jarrod Fletcher, Blake Caparello and now Tomlinson have showed the benefits of campaigning overseas.”
To be the best you have to beat the best, and that means eventually outside of the Australian market.
Tomlinson is not afraid of that challenge.
“There’s definitely some great Aussie talent out there and I take my hat off to all the boys who choose to step outside their comfort zone and try and compete on the elite international circuit. I was very lucky with my manager, Fidel Tukel, getting behind me to bring credible international opponents to Australia the last couples years for my IBO title fights.”
“However to really take the next step in your career you have to head abroad to get that true respect as a world-class fighter. And I definitely think we have a few capable of doing that in Australian.”
Words by John Davidson
Follow John on Twitter @johnnyddavidson