By Cody Kaye: Australian super featherweight Will Tomlinson will make the third defence of his IBO title, when he steps into the ring against two-time former IBF champ Malcolm Klassen, on May 16 at the Melbourne Pavilion in Melbourne, Australia.
The 26-year old has an undefeated record but has spent the majority of his career fighting on the undercards of big name Australian boxers like Danny Green. But after taking his professional record to 20-0, that will no longer be the case. Tomlinson will headline an all-star night of boxing on May 16, with an undercard including a host of well-known locals like Garth Wood, Brad Pitt, and Willie Kickett.
“It’s taken time,” acknowledges Tomlinson, “but I’m at a stage in my career now where I’m presented with these bigger opportunities, and I have to make every one of them count. This fight will attract a lot of interest. There’s going to be a lot of people looking, and it’s up to me to pull the trigger and perform on the night.
“This fight is as real as it gets; two young, hungry fighters in their prime, in a very evenly-matched fight. It’s got all the ingredients to be an absolute cracker.”
The bout is an undeniable step up in class for Tomlinson, who will risk everything he’s achieved so far, against a man whose last loss came nearly four years ago in a split decision against Robert “Ghost” Guerrero. The classy Guerrero is Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent in Las Vegas.
“Klassen is a very capable fighter,” says Tomlinson. “He’s been in with some of the best in the world – the bloke he actually lost his world title to is Guerrero, so he only loses to the best. Yeah it’s a step up in class, but that’s what makes me tick and brings the best out in me as a fighter.”
“I’m being thrown into the deep end, and I’m going to have to swim my way out.”
Born in Melbourne but based in western Sydney for an eight-week training camp, the laid-back Australian has quickly built a name for himself among the world’s top ratings bodies.
“Right now, I’m one of only two fighters rated at super featherweight, who are in the top ten of every major world ratings body. I’m in the top ten in the IBF, WBO, WBA and WBC, so a unification bout for one of those other belts surely couldn’t be too far off.”
But to make sure that happens, first Tomlinson must get past Klassen, and those who have watched the Aussie fight before will know exactly what style he’ll be taking into the ring. ‘Wild’ Will is a warrior who welcomes anything from a good old-fashioned “punch on” to an all-out war.
“Look, a win is a win in boxing, but anyone who has watched me fight before knows I’m a banger. I’ll be going out there all guns blazing, and if I can fight my fight, then the knock-out should come.”
Having never fought outside Australia as a professional, the next step for Tomlinson would be to venture overseas and attempt to crack the lucrative American market. “I never make the mistake of planning too far ahead, but obviously the time has come to look beyond domestic showdowns. I want to prove myself to the world and become a global name. I want to go to America, and win and defend world titles there.”
In Tomlinson’s favour is that he has exactly the kind of fighting style that could get him to the US, and keep him there. The natural brawler has stopped 12 of his 20 professional opponents, and he secured his IBO title in memorable fashion during a bloody 12 round epic against Mexican Alan Herrera. His next opponent, Klassen, has never been stopped in 32 professional fights and a knock-out win could be the making of ‘Wild’ Will.
“It’s pretty straight forward really – I’ve just got to rise to the occasion and beat this guy, simple as that.”