Although Karlos Balderas' professional boxing career is exactly three minutes old, he's already made quite an impression on the boxing scene.

Balderas made his professional debut Sunday night in Los Angeles and dominated the first round of his bout against Thomas Smith. The 29-year-old Smith refused to leave his corner for the start of the the second round of the super featherweight bout, giving Balderas a TKO victory. 

The past 12 months have been quite remarkable for the Santa Maria native Balderas. He qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics and in Brazil advanced his way to the quarterfinals in the boxing competition. 

Balderas, 20, then decided to go pro late in 2016 and signed with upstart promotion Ringstar Sports. Hundreds of friends, family members and fans made the trek to Los Angeles, where the fight was at The Novo, a venue in downtown Los Angeles. Josesito Lopez's bout against Saul Corral headlined the card.

Balderas' debut led off FS1's broadcast. The broadcast returned after the post first-round commercial break with Balderas rising from his corner and celebrating on the turnbuckle as the decision was announced.

Balderas dominated the only round of the fight, coming out aggressive and landing several crisp jabs. Balderas entered the fight nine years younger than Smith and two inches taller. Balderas weighed in at 131.5 pounds with Smith coming in right at 131. Smith had 1/2 an inch advantage in reach.

But Balderas was the much quicker fighter. After finding his reach with those early jabs, Balderas began working on some combinations, to which Smith had no defense. 

Balderas landed an array of power punches, including a few over-hand rights, some straight right hands and even an upper-cut, all set up by the strong and quick left-handed jab.

Balderas entered the bout wearing a conversation-provoking T-Shirt. The white shirt with black lettering read, 'Yes, To An Immigration Reform 2017... Keeping Hard Working Families Together' on the front with a Spanish translation on the back. In the ring, Balderas wore bright red trunks with gold lettering, with his hometown of 'Santa Maria' embroidered on the back.  

Balderas' family originally hails from Mexico. His grandfather worked in the strawberry fields around Santa Maria. The telecast, which featured star Mexican-American fighter Abner Mares providing color commentary, spoke in length of Balderas' background, specifically the hard-working family he comes from. Balderas is a graduate of Santa Maria High School.

Balderas had an impressive amateur career that included a 2014 Youth National Championship, four National PAL titles and an impressive run in the World Series of Boxing. His amateur career culminated in a trip to the 2016 Summer Games where he represented the U.S. and defeated fighters from Kazakhstan and Japan before a decision loss in the quarterfinals.


Sports Editor

Alumni Fresno State