Will Tomlinson: “I’m not in this to do small shows”

IF ambition is a scalable measure of success, fighter-turned-promoter Will Tomlinson is on the cusp of something big.

The former super featherweight titleholder has thrived in his career rebirth as a promoter, assembling an impressive line-up of prospects, which have mirrored the ascension of his own promotional firm, WILDFIGHTER.

As the curtain call nears on his first full campaign on the other side of the ropes, Tomlinson continues to reach towards lofty goals.

“I’m not in this to do small shows,” Tomlinson told Aus-Boxing.

“It’s taken time to build my model, to find the right people to work around my business, and to acquire talent that will help me put together events that people want to see.

“There have been a lot of lessons to learn along the way. I couldn’t of forecasted the success or the amount of people that came to what was almost a homecoming of sorts for me in Bairnsdale. For the community to rally around my event and to have more than 2,000 people at the venue, it was unreal.

“With that event now done, it’s just a matter of taking what made the previous show in Bairnsdale so successful, and bringing those elements back to Melbourne.”

Since making his foray into the business side of the sport in March, all of Tomlinson’s events have been headlined by unbeaten former Olympian and Commonwealth Games silver medalist, Jason Whateley.

The fast rise of Whateley (6-0, 5 KOs) reflects the bold rise of Tomlinson’s Melbourne-based promotional firm, who are on the brink of promoting fights beyond the domestic scene.

Whateley will make attempt to transition from prospect to titleholder on Saturday night, when he faces reigning Australian cruiserweight champion Daniel Russell (7-1-2, 4 KOs) at The Timber Yard in Port Melbourne. Both fighters have been given an extra incentive to perform, with the bout recently elevated to an official eliminator for the Commonwealth cruiserweight title.

When quizzed on the possibility of promoting a Commonwealth title fight next year, Tomlinson gave an honest assessment of his goals for 2020.

“These are the kinds of fights I need to promote to take that next step,” he explained.

“As Jason continues to develop, he’s shown that he’s more than capable of beating guys at a domestic level. By winning the Australian title, it shows that he’s progressing in the right way, and we can then further incentivise fighters to come to Melbourne to make big fights.”

Given the option to pursue a vacant title for his unbeaten charge, Tomlinson was quick to highlight his collaborative desire for Whateley to challenge the reigning champion, regardless of cost.

“There’s a minimum amount that the champion can receive when making a defence, which is set by the ANBF,” he continued.

“To make sure that we got this opportunity, one that we’ve been chasing all year, I’ve made sure that the champion is getting paid an amount that matches their value, to make them willing to defend their belt, as opposed to vacating the title, which a lot of champions do.

“It’s important for us to bring the best fighters out, and to show that Jason is right up there with the best fighters in the country, and that all starts with Daniel Russell. This is an evenly matched fight, there’s no mistaking that.”

The past six weeks have highlighted the strength of Australian boxing, with the depth and quality of televised events marking a renascence of sorts in 2019.

Attending these events has served as motivation for Tomlinson, who sees himself in good company.

“The quality of shows have been great, especially in recent months,” he concluded.

“Making sure that I’m ringside and watching these events in person has been a big motivation for me, I want to reach those levels in the coming months. The shows like the Horn-Zerafa card and the same with Andrew Moloney’s world title fight.

“This is the level that every promoter should aspire to reach, and I’m no different. I have the drive to get there, it’s just a matter of taking the right steps to make sure these goals are achieved.”

Tickets for the Commonwealth title eliminator between Jason Whateley and Daniel Russell can be purchased directly here.

Photo: Roberto Pettinau