SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Karlos Balderas is stepping up his game. Just a few months after from competing in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Santa Maria boxer is ending his illustrious amateur career.
"We talked about it with my uncle and dad and my family, and they thought the best decision was me to go professional," said Balderas.
After the Olympics, Balderas was coveted by every major boxing promotions company.
"Promoters came," said Balderas. "We had Top Rank. We had Oscar de la Hoya (Golden Boy Promotions), we had Floyd Mayweather Promotions, we had a lot of promoters that tried to offer us something."
Instead, Balderas decided to sign with newly formed Ringstar Promotions, which is headed by former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.
"Karlos Balderas was one of the most sought-after Olympians coming out of the 2016 Summer Games," Schaefer told ESPN.com. "I am please he agreed to join Ringstar Sports. I am going to do whatever it takes to make Karlos the face of boxing. Karlos reminds me of a combination of Oscar and Fernando Vargas, and that's not a bad thing."
At the same time Balderas signed his contract with Ringstar, his older brother Jose also agreed to a deal with the company. The brothers were the first two boxers to sign with Ringstar.
"It's been a long journey and being professional means we made it. All the sacrifices and everything just to get to this point," said Jose Balderas.
The brothers have each been fighting since they were eight years old. Jose, who is now 21 years old, is one year old than Karlos, 20. He said they've helped each other since childhood.
"We're very competitive at anything," said Jose Balderas. "Whether we play soccer or we play basketball, we're very competitve. Looking at one another's training, it pushes us to train harder."
Karlos Balderas said that while his brother may not have as much as exposure as he's had, Jose is a great fighter in his own right.
"I'm very happy for my brother because we have both been on this journey and he's been working with me the whole way and I felt it was only right if I signed with my brother," said Karlos Balderas.
Jose is currently recovering from an injury and will not make his professional debut until this summer. According to Karlos' father Zenon, his first pro fight is scheduled for March 14 in Los Angeles. Zenon Balderas says the fight will be against a yet-to-be-determined opponent and will be televised.
Karlos will fight either as a featherweight (126 pounds) or junior lightweight (130 pounds). Jose will fight as a bantamweight (118 pounds).
"It's a very special feeling," said Jose Balderas. "We could have been somewhere else, but we're here, at a place where a lot of people want to be at, so I'm blessed, we're blessed."
As Karlos trains for his upcoming fight, he's already looking ahead to another fight later this summer. He says he's working on a deal to fight in his hometown. He wants to stage a fight in an outdoor venue, perhaps at his alma mater, Santa Maria High School.
"I'm trying to make it free to the public so all my people can come and watch because I have never fought here since maybe like the age of nine," said Karlos Balderas.
With his professional career only in its early stages, Karlos and his family are hoping it's just the start of something big.
"God willing I will fight for a world title one day and bring it back to the city of Santa Maria," said Karlos Balderas. "I'll still have a couple of years to go. I'm just going to work hard, stay dedicated and stay focused," said Karlos Balderas.