Granat relishing Rumble in Malmo
Luke G. Williams
Swedish heavyweight prospect Adrian Granat faces Russian Alexander Dimitrenko on Saturday in Malmo in arguably the most significant bout in the country in decades. Boxing Monthly caught up with 'The Pike' as he entered his final few days of preparation and found him in confident mood as he continues his ascent towards the top of the heavyweight division...
Adrian Granat does not lack for confidence - and as he counts down the final days ahead of potentially his toughest professional assignment yet against the seasoned and dangerous Russian Alexander Dimitrenko, the 25-year-old is also remaining remarkably calm.
In many ways Granat's confidence is understandable - widely viewed as one of the most promising young boxers in the heavyweight division, the Swede is on a run of nine straight stoppages and has only been extended to the final bell once in his nascent 14-fight pro career.
When Boxing Monthly's Mark Butcher recently announced the magazine's '10 US and overseas fighters to watch in 2017' Granat was among them, alongside the likes of Gervonta Davis and Erickson Lubin.
"I am very grateful for the recognition," Granat tells me when I remind him of this honour. "My goal this year is just to keep climbing. Keep getting better."
There will be greater pressure on Granat this Saturday than for any of his previous contests, by virtue of the fact that the Dimitrenko showdown will be his first fight in his homeland since March 2014, just his third 'home appearance' of his pro career thus far and his first-ever paid appearance in his hometown of Malmo. Granat's return home is a further boost for the sport in Sweden, which has steadily increased its profile and popularity since the end of a 35-year professional boxing ban.
However, despite the high stakes, Granat radiates composure and Zen-like calm. "I feel great," he confirms. "I really stepped up my preparations this time, so I am 100% ready to fight. And it's going to be fun fighting at home - I'm hoping for a good turnout."
Certainly it seems that Granat has left nothing to chance in terms of preparations, having spent time in Spain training with respected Russian coach Roman Anuchin prior to some tough sparring back in his Hamburg base. He also has hired a new guru to improve his strength and conditioning - Seyit Ali Shobeiri.
"My focus has been on stepping up all parts of my game - from conditioning to strength and technique," Granat explains. "I believe I have made great progress and I am stable and tough in my mind. I'm ready for war. I expect to face the best Dimitrenko there's been next Saturday - he is a pretty stable boxer, with solid foundations and a good jab. However, it doesn't matter what he brings, I will break him. I will not be happy to go the distance ... he is going down."
Victory against Dimitrenko, who is ranked 24th in the WBC rankings will propel Granat (currently ranked 22nd) towards the sanctioning body's top 15. The Swede is adamant that he is ready and willing to take on any of the myriad champions and challengers who are currently jostling for position in pugilism's blue riband weight class.
"A lot of good fights are getting made in the heavyweight division and that's great," he admits. "I don't know who I'll fight in the future, but I'm prepared to fight anyone. I'm going to the top."