Will Tomlinson has been here before. The former IBO junior lightweight titleholder from Australia packed his bags over 18 months ago to move to and make a splash in the United States. The undefeated Tomlinson was signed by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and given a spot on the March 2014 undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo pay-per-view to showcase his skills.
He didn’t succeed. Belmontes upset Tomlinson by unanimous decision. The tough-minded Tomlinson considers it a learning experience.
“I learned not to put too much pressure on myself, to just relax and enjoy the moment and kind of just do what I’ve been doing for 15 or 16 years now come natural instead of forcing it,” Tomlinson told TSS. “I was looking for the knockout against Belmontes. I wanted to impress everybody in my U.S. debut and that ended up having an adverse effect.”
Tomlinson said the fighter Americans saw for perhaps the first time that night wasn’t him at all. “I just tightened up and couldn’t let my hands go, you know? S—t happens. It’s in the past now. I’m fully over it. I just look at it as a rare mental glitch that I experienced on the night. I won’t let it happen again.”
Tomlinson has won two straight since the Belmontes loss. He defeated Alberto Cupido and Miguel Zamudio in eight-rounders to earn another big TV fight opportunity, a second chance at impressing American fight fans. Tomlinson faces Francisco Vargas on Thursday night (TONIGHT) at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas. The bout will be telecast live on HBO Latino.
“I’m stoked for this fight. I’m pumped. I’ve been training really hard. This is the type of fight that I moved my career to the United States for—to test myself against the very best fighters out there. I’m privileged to be able to do it on a great TV network like HBO Latino. I know there is going to be a lot of diehard boxing fans watching and that’s who I like to perform for and put on a good fight for, the true diehard fans. And I’m very excited for it.”
Tomlinson is 28 years old. He lives in Los Angeles, California and trains at the The Rock boxing gym in nearby Carson. Nicknamed “Wild Bill,” the scrappy Tomlinson won six state and two Australian national titles as an amateur before turning professional in 2008. He defeated Alan Herrera in December 2011 for the IBO junior lightweight title. He is currently trained by Nico Robledo.
“I felt like I had reached a certain level in Australia and I was starting to stagnate so I wanted to challenge myself and go to that next level by coming here to America. I found myself in all new surroundings with a whole new team behind me: new trainers [and] new promoters. And it’s been a good experience.”
Even after the tough loss to Belmontes, Tomlinson said he felt supported by his promoter. “They’ve been awesome with how they’ve promoted me leading into this fight. I really feel like I’m a part of the team, and part of something with Golden Boy and with the way HBO Latino has also been promoting myself and the fight. It’s been really good.”
On paper, Vargas will be Tomlinson’s toughest test to date. The undefeated 30-year-old from Mexico has stopped his last two opponents and seems to be honing in on his peak as a professional. Tomlinson expects a rough fight but a good one, and it’s a fight he’s seen coming for a couple of years now.
“I’ve seen lots of Vargas’ fights. I’ve followed his career the last couple of years. I always had the feeling that we’d end up fighting each other one day and for that reason I used to watch a bit of him. He wouldn’t be where he is now if he wasn’t a great fighter. I’m expecting a good, tough fight on March 12. I’m expecting to come in ready to win and him to not make it easy for me by any means. But I genuinely believe I have the arsenal and the skills to edge him in a few different departments to do just enough to walk away with a good win.”
Tomlinson expects the lessons he learned against Belmontes will help him relax in the moment on Thursday. He expects a decision win, and an impressive display of boxing like he wanted in his first fight in the United States. Essentially, this is his second chance at making a big splash in America.
“It will not only propel me towards another world title opportunity but also a top fight which is going to make me a lot of fans in the process. I think that with our two styles of fighting, it’s going to be an all-action fight. It’s going to be extremely entertaining for the fans watching and I feel they’ll really embrace both of us, especially the winner.”
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