Santa Maria native Karlos Balderas' boxing career has gotten off to a spectacular start.

The 2016 Olympian has fought in three bouts as a pro and has three first-round knockouts.

Those three victories have led him to Saturday night. Then, the rising star will step into the ring against Jorge Ramos. 

The fight against Ramos will be the first time Balderas will fight on network television. And it'll be in primetime.

Balderas' bout has been slotted to lead off FOX's broadcast of the Premier Boxing Champions series. The bout is part of the Victor Ortiz-Devon Alexander undercard from the Don Haskins Center in El Paso, Texas.

On Monday night, Balderas and his older brother Jose, who will fight for the third time as a pro on the same card, spent three grueling hours preparing for their fights at the family boxing gym in an industrial park in southern Santa Maria.

Monday night saw the Balderas School of Boxing fill with members of the Balderas family: Karlos and Jose's grandparents, uncles and a younger brother. Then a couple dozen boxing students joined the Balderas brothers in training.

The brothers along with their trainers, father Zenon and uncle David, will fly from Los Angeles to Texas Wednesday, ahead of Friday's weigh-in. 

Karlos spoke about his mentality leading up to the fight after Monday's training session.

"About a week before the fight, my mind is just cold," Karlos said. "My mind is just empty. I already know what I have to go in there and do. It's not like it's something new to me. But I never take it lightly... I'm prepared physically, mentally. The work was put in. We had a great, great camp like always with my brother, my uncle and my dad.  

"I'm anxious. I haven't fought outside of California in a good while. I look forward to it."

The last fight for Karlos outside of his home state was at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in the summer of 2016.

The opportunity to fight on national television Saturday night is a sign to Karlos that he's doing something right.

"It proves to me that my hard work is paying off and that I have something," Balderas said. "When I fight, people say that I have something that gets the crowd's attention and everything is on pause. I'm happy with the way things are going with my promotional company. My promoter is trying to get me on TV as much as he could because I know I have a lot of skill to display.

"I'm very young, but that's not a problem for me. I've been in there with top fighters, the best fighters, and I'm ready to go."

Karlos, 21, will fight as a 133-pound lightweight Saturday against Rojas, a 27-year-old who is 4-2-1 in his career with four knockouts. Rojas is from Cholula, Puebla in Mexico. Rojas fought four times in 2017, with two wins, a draw and a loss. Rojas has never fought in the United States.

Jose will fight in his third pro bout in a bantanweight fight. He is 2-0 in his career, but hasn't fought since October after a planned bout was rescheduled. 

"That training camp just made me better for this camp," Jose said. "I feel good. I'm ready."

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Jose has scored two unanimous decisions in a pair of four-round bouts, though he admits he'd like to score a KO sooner than later, but tries to soak up everything he can from every professional round.

"Every fight you want a knockout, but sometimes it doesn't happen," he said. "I took it as a learning experience because it's helping me learn what the game is really about. It's going to help me move forward and get stronger."

Zenon Balderas, father of Jose and Karlos, has taken all steps to ensure his sons are prepared Saturday night. He's also excited to see what the future holds for each of them. 

"I'm very proud and at the same time I'm very anxious," Zenon said. "They've tried to push Karlos a little bit fast. I know he's ready and I know Jose's ready. I know one day they are going to be world champions. I promise you they are going to be world champions. Both, not just Karlos, but I know Jose is going to be world champion. I want them to win a world title, but I want them to hold that championship for a long time.

"Karlos could get the title right now, but he's only 21. He's dangerous, but most of these champions are 27 or 28. They have a lot of experience. They are a lot older. He's going to get there, but we're going to go a little slower. In maybe two or three years we're going to be looking for a championship."

The brothers are promoted by Ringstar Sports and Richard Schaefer, who has consistently billed Karlos as a rising star.

David Balderas trains both brothers and also teaches Algebra and Geometry at Santa Maria High.

"With Karlos, every fight he improves," David said. "He does something new. Karlos is somebody who you can ask to do anything and he will do it there on the spot. Anything you ask him to do, as a coach, he will do. He can adapt really well to a fight. Not only that, he looks impressive in every fight. He's improving."

Karlos' bout against Rojas is scheduled for six rounds and will be live on FOX Saturday night around 5 p.m. Pacific time.

Joe Bailey is the sports editor at Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Contact him with tips and story ideas at jbailey@leecentralcoastnews.com or (805) 739-2239. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/jbaileysmsports

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