Training Camp Check-In: Karlos Balderas



Training Camp Check-In: Karlos Balderas

Last year, the super featherweight division had a young fighter who was considered a highly touted prospect, by the name of Karlos Balderas (9-1).

The stage was set for him to have a breakout performance on a card that was much anticipated. Then the unexpected happens and Balderas lost, by way of TKO.

Boxing fans have a tendency to place too much emphasis on the “0,” which hurts young fighters that are on their way up. Some of the greatest fighters that ever stepped into the ring have lost at least once in their career.

After his loss, Balderas was put through the mud on social media and was labeled a “hype job.”

Those in the boxing sphere that really know how to evaluate talent will tell you differently. I myself have watched Balderas from ringside a few times and know that the skill level is definitely there.

After a year that saw many changes in his life and team, Balderas is back the day after Christmas on a PBC show. I checked in with him to see what he has been up to the last twelve months.

AG: Karlos, thank for you taking the time to do this interview. The last time we saw you step into the ring was December 2019 on the undercard of Charlo vs Harrison II. That night, you suffered your first career loss. Leading up to that fight, you posted on Instagram how your Grandfather was in the hospital and not doing well. There were also rumors of a hand injury. Can you get into everything you had going as you approached the fight that night?

KB: I don’t want to sound like I’m making any excuses. There were a lot of things going on in my life leading up to the fight. My Grandpa was about to die on us. He had to get surgery for multiple bypasses. He couldn’t even watch my fight because he had heart surgery, so it would have been too much for him. My Dad and Uncle weren’t really going to the gym because they were looking out for him. I was barely going to the gym myself, so we were all going to the hospital to look after my grandpa.

When I got the call from Al Haymon that my fight was moved from Fox to the main telecast, I was at the hospital with my Grandpa. Truthfully, that night was about 50% Karlos Balderas. People who really know me know how I get down.

AG: Shortly after that night, the country was crippled by COVID-19. When everyone was forced to quarantine, how did you remain in shape?

KB: My Dad owns a boxing gym, so I stayed in shape for the most part. I was coming off of a very big hand injury from my last fight so I couldn’t really do much. I’m in a way better place physically and mentally then I was a year ago. I think that sometimes things happen for a reason. Maybe somewhere along the lines I got comfortable or lacked discipline not so much in training but more so in my personal life.

AG: This year you also made some changes to your team, as you hired Churchill Management. How did that change come about?

KB: My dad always liked the idea of me signing with a manager. At the time, my Uncle David was my manager but there is a lot that comes to play when you have a family member as your manager. It worked good for awhile, but my Uncle David is not experienced in that field. He is a great coach and him along with my dad took me from the start to the Olympics. He just lacked the experience and Sam (Katkovski) has been doing a great job with me so far. I told my uncle that,“You are my uncle and trainer but we are always going up against these professional managers, so we are always going to lose when it comes to business.”

I'm at the Wilder vs Fury rematch and I was talking to quite a few managers. I needed someone to manage and guide me, who wasn’t part of my family, so that I can get out of my comfort zone. When you have family members in business with you, things can get comfortable and allowed to slide because that’s family. When it comes to Sam, things are more professional and that’s better for me.

AG: You also added Buddy McGirt as your trainer. How did that conversation go with your Dad and Uncle? Also, how did you end up getting with Buddy McGirt?

McGirt was a two-division champion as a fighter.

KB: The same week I spoke to Sam, I ran into Adam “Blue Nose” Lopez. Adam is my boy and we go back a couple of years. I wanted to ask him out of respect about going to his gym because I didn’t want to take away time he has with his coach. I asked him his thoughts about joining him at his gym with Buddy McGirt. He said I should go out there because Buddy knows his shit. I moved out here to L.A and slowly but surely got with Buddy.

My dad has always been very supportive of the decisions I have made in my life. When I was living in Santa Maria, I was sparring once every week or two. My camp wasn’t as organized because I would wake up and go to the gym at the time I wanted to. In L.A, it’s different now. I have a Chef (Gloria Alvarado), Strength and Conditioning Coach (Andy Aguilar, who works with Leo Santa Cruz) and of course work with Buddy.

My chef wakes me up really early to eat because I have to meet Buddy at the gym by 11am. I then have to meet Andy at the Strength and Conditioning Gym at 5pm. It’s just more structured. I think consistency overall is going to be the key.

AG: You’re fighting on a PBC card the day after Christmas. Do you know who you are fighting?

KB: We had looked at some opponents and I thought we had already agreed to one with Sam and my Dad. I guess it didn’t work out, but this is my comeback fight, so I don’t know if it’s going to be too crazy. I’ve been working hard though sparring with Adam Lopez, some L.A fighters and even as late as yesterday with an Armenian Olympian. I’m going to shine in this fight. I’ve been feeling strong in this camp and my hands feel healthy.

AG: Boxing is weird as one loss is looked at as the end of the world. What do you have to say to those that have written you off? Also, what do you say to those that have continued to support you?

KB: This may sound funny, but I believe the loss helped me. I needed the loss. I know people have focused on the loss but what about my wins? J-Rock (Julian Williams) was one of the first people that hit me up after my loss.

I had plans on fighting Tellez again, but my dad didn’t want me to fight him right away. Believe me, we are going to fight again. If it isn’t the next one, then the one right after. He is still on my hit list. I’m coming back with a vengeance.

For those that have stuck with me, I am thankful for their support. Their support won’t go in vain. It’s time for the get back. I’m thankful to all of my family and friends for their support.

Photo Credit: Willie Romero

AG: What’s in store for next year and where can fans follow you?

KB: I’m going to start selling merch again. My dad wants me to start a YouTube Channel and keep everyone up to date on what I have going on. I spoke to Al Haymon and he is going to have four fights lined up for me next year. Like I mentioned before, I just started working with a chef and strength coach so the 126-pound division may have to make a little room for me for a little bit. Then I’ll go back up to 130. You can follow me on Instagram @kingxkarlos.

My Three Cents:

I think Karlos Balderas will return to his winning ways come the night of the 26th. I am interested to see some of the things him and Buddy McGirt have been working on. Adding Buddy McGirt will elevate Balderas even more and I think by the end of 2021, he will once again be talked about as one of the most anticipated fighters to watch.

Click HERE to read from the archives Abe on Karlos and his brother Jose.

You can follow me on twitter @abeg718 and follow @nyfights on Instagram.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, Abe grew up in a family who were and still are die-hard boxing fans. He started contributing boxing articles to NYF in 2017. Abe through his hard work, has made his way up the ranks and is now the editor at NYFights. He is also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).