Swede Science special: Laurén-Svensson preview and poll
Luke G. Williams
Luke G. Williams looks ahead to Saturday’s Swedish super-fight between bitter rivals Mikaela Laurén and Klara Svensson…
It is a frequent criticism of modern boxing that some of the most enticing match-ups, both on a domestic and international level, are never brokered, or only take place once one or both combatants are past their best.
No such criticisms can be leveled against Sweden’s Mikaela Laurén (27-3) and arch domestic rival Klara Svensson (16-1) though, with the two women having eagerly accepted the opportunity to face off this Saturday - 10 September - at the Hovet in Stockholm in what is a genuine domestic blockbuster that has really got the Swedish sports scene buzzing.
The two women meet at welterweight for the interim WBC strap, a sensible compromise, given that Laurén usually campaigns at super-welter (where she holds the WBC title) while Svensson has previously campaigned at super-lightweight.
Although they are both signed to the powerful Sauerland stable - who have tag-lined the contest as ‘The Winner Takes It All’ - there is no love lost between the two pugilists, with Svensson having criticised some of Laurén’s past antics, while Laurén has claimed that she will “humiliate” Svensson.
At a pre-fight press conference this week the two women were in typically combative mode, with the decision to hold a coin toss on Thursday to decide who enters the ring second outraging Laurén. "It’s a scandal," said the 40-year-old former Olympic swimmer. "I’m a former five-time World Champion, and we’re fighting in my hometown. It shouldn’t even be up for discussion."
As for the 28-year-old Svensson she declared: "I think a coin toss will be fun. Although for me, it’s more important who is left standing in the ring last, rather than who enters it first. Forget about all the drama and Mikaela’s silly games. I want this to be a fight that people remember. It’s a huge occasion for Swedish boxing and I’m sure it’s going to be a great night for the fans. I’ve been training non-stop since May, and I couldn’t be better prepared. Mikaela had better be ready for the fight of her life."
At the conclusion of the press conference Laurén presented Svensson with a cake with the numbers '16-2' decorated on it – a reference to what she believes Svensson’s fight record will be after the conclusion of Saturday’s contest. "I was going to give this to you after the fight," Laurén told the ‘Swedish Princess’. "But I know you need to gain some weight so I thought I would give it to you now."
Unsurprisingly, given that he promotes both fighters, Nisse Sauerland declined to make a definitive prediction about who might prevail.
"It’s a real 50-50 fight," he said. "And for me, it’s impossible to tell what is going to happen on Saturday night. That’s what makes this fight so interesting. It’s going to be the biggest fight between two Swedes since Paolo Roberto fought Armand Krajnc, and this time it’s happening at home!"
Roberto fought Krajnc in a 2001 all-Swedish contest for the WBO middleweight title. The fight took place in Germany due to the fact professional boxing was, at that time, banned in Sweden.
This ban was finally lifted in late 2006, paving the way for events such as Saturday's at the Hovet. The headline contest will doubtless come down to whether Laurén can successfully bring her superior strength and hugely improved skills to bear against Svensson’s greater technical pedigree. Enticingly, the victor has been guaranteed a shot against undisputed welter champ and female pound for pound number 1 boxer Cecilia Brækhus of Norway.
Laurén-Svensson Experts’ poll
Boxing Monthly surveyed a mixture of Swedish boxers and writers for their predictions on which boxer will emerge the winner. ...
“Mikaela versus Klara? It's hard to say. It's a classic boxer versus fighter scenario. I'd say Klara by decision, or Mikaela by stoppage. But I would lean towards Klara to get the decision.”
Adrian Granat, heavyweight boxer
“It's a great fight and it's good for Swedish boxing as the media have picked it up. It's one that I'm looking forward to seeing as well. Mikaela has come a long way and is a well-deserved world champion and I respect her. I'm training with Klara and I see her work every day. I think she will be a tough nut to crack for Mikaela. I think Klara's skills and youth is going to make the difference and I see her winning.”
Otto Wallin, heavyweight boxer
“I think it will be a good fight and they will go the distance. I think that Klara will be more tactical when it comes to accumulating points due to her amateur background. In other words, I think she will take a lot of points and win most rounds. However, I do think Mikaela will be the more aggressive fighter who moves forward. That means she will win the heart of the crowd. Overall, I think it will be a close fight; Klara will win on points but Mikaela will win the people’s hearts.”
Anders Nilsson, boxing writer
“Laurén is the only fighter I have ever seen, male or female, to begin her career so late, at 30, and look ‘so-so’ for a number of years and then, at the age of 39, vastly improve on every level. She’s always been tough and in excellent shape but now there’s punches and lots of them and with power too! Svensson has improved a lot since Joey Gamache began to train her but my pick is Laurén on points or by a late-rounds stoppage.”
Per-Åke Persson, boxing writer
Final count: Svensson 3 Laurén 1
The Laurén-Svensson undercard sees several other Swedish boxers in action, as well as a return to the ring for British heavyweight Dereck Chisora.
Sundsvall heavyweight Otto Wallin (15-0) should secure a 16th successive professional victory when he faces South African champion Osborne Machimana (21-8-2), although he will need to beware as the latter can certainly bang – as attested to by 16 KO victories and a stoppage triumph against former world titlist Corrie Sanders in 2008. Wallin is improving all the time and has benefitted from quality sparring against Anthony Joshua and Krysztof Glowacki this year.
Elsewhere, super lightweight Anthony Yigit (17-0-1) faces an interesting test in Mexican hard man Armando Robles (31-4-2), Linkoping’s Naim Terbunja (9-1) takes on Frenchman Baptiste Castegnaro (8-8) at light-heavy and female super-lightweight Patricia Berghult from Malmo (2-0) is in action against Kinga Magyar of Hungary (0-1). Chisora, meanwhile (25-6) faces Bosnian heavyweight Drazan Janjanin (13-7). However crowd-pleasing Gothenburg welterweight Daniel Hartvig (7-0-1) misses out on a planned bout with Krisztian Santa (12-7-2) due to injury.