Luke G. Williams
In a new regular column Luke G. Williams rounds up the latest boxing news and views from Sweden … including news of Adrian Granat, Otto Wallin and much more …
Granat looking to move up in class
Swedish heavyweight prospect Adrian Granat (13-0, 12 KOs) is looking to fight again in November or December and is keen to step up the level of his opposition. “I’m in training as always,” the Hamburg-based pugilist tells Boxing Monthly. “Not so much focus on sparring at the moment but I’m doing fitness and conditioning work, my [next] opponent is not finalised yet but I hope I can step up a bit.”
In a recent video posted on Youtube the 25-year-old Granat ‘called out’ British heavyweights Dillian Whyte, David Price and Hughie Fury and he confirms to BM that contests with these contenders would interest him. “I would like to fight any of the three,” he says. “And yes, I believe I can take them all!”
Whyte has since replied in the affirmative to Granat’s challenge according to social media posts. “Challenge accepted by Dillian Whyte, now it’s up to Eddie Hearn,” Granat posted on his Twitter page on 3 August.
Granat versus Whyte? Count us in if the deal can be made!
Wallin staying busy
Sweden’s other unbeaten heavyweight prospect Otto Wallin (15-0, 11 KOs) will be back in action on 10 September on the big Sauerland card at the Hovet in Stockholm. The 25-year-old Sundsvall heavyweight will square off against South African champion Osborne ‘Big Daddy’ Machimana (21-8-2, 16 KOs). “My training is going well,” Wallin says. “I feel like I'm improving all the time. We are starting up sparring now and I will peak that when I go to Poland [to spar against WBO cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Glowacki] before the fight. I'm looking forward to stepping in the ring and performing again.”
Laurén-Svensson superfight approaches
Topping the bill at the Hovet on 10 September is, of course, the long-awaited Swedish superfight between reigning WBC Female super-Welterweight champion Mikaela Laurén (27-3, 12 KOs) and domestic rival Klara Svensson (16-1, 5 KOs), a grudge match which has been billed as ‘The Winner Takes It All’.
Laurén-Svensson has been made at welterweight, with the WBC interim title on the line, and a shot at current unified champion and universally acknowledged number one pound-for-pound queen Cecilia Brækhus having been promised to the victor.
Since the contest was announced, both women have been in combative form. “I’m thrilled this fight is finally happening,’’ said Laurén. “This is a fight I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s no secret that we don’t like each other, and now we can finally see who is the better boxer. This is going to be a huge fight for Sweden and for Swedish boxing. We haven’t had a big fight like this involving two Swedish fighters since Paolo Roberto fought Armand Krajnc, and I’m sure this is a fight that will capture the imagination of the Swedish public.
“I’m very confident I will beat her. I believe I’m too big and too strong for her and, on September 10, I’m going to knock her out. There is no way she can last 10 rounds with me. I’m glad this fight is happening in Stockholm so that all my friends, family and fans can be there to watch me humiliate her.”
As for Svensson, she has declared: “There is nothing fake about this fight. Mikaela has done and said some things that I haven’t agreed with and I’m looking forward to getting in the ring and shutting her up once and for all. This isn’t about tabloids or headlines, or her kissing opponents or pouring water on them, it’s about boxing and who is the best, and I’m going to show her what boxing is really about. I’m not only going to outbox her, I will destroy her. Mikaela and her whole team are going to be in for a cold shower. I’m really looking forward to this fight. It has been building up for a long time and a lot of people are already talking about it. I think it’s going to be a really big event in Sweden and hopefully it can build a lot of interest in the sport.”
We can’t wait to see how this grudge match unfolds, and will preview the Hovet bill in more detail in the next edition of ‘Swede Science’ …
Badou Jack honoured by NBHOF
Sweden’s Las Vegas-based WBC super-middleweight champion Badou Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs) has been named Nevada Fighter of the Year by the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.
The award, won for the previous three years by Jack’s promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr., honours Jack for his recent superb run of form, including beating Andre Dirrell to become world champion and successful defences against George Groves and Lucien Bute (the latter fight was ruled a draw, although most observers felt Jack won with ease).
“I definitely didn’t expect it,” said the 32-year-old of the award. “But I’m very blessed and honoured.” Jack is due to face IBF champ James DeGale in a unification contest this autumn, although terms, date and location are yet to be finalised.
Skoglund misses out on Ward match-up
No word yet on unbeaten light-heavyweight Erik Skoglund’s next assignment. The 25-year-old, who is currently 25-0, with 11 KOs, came through a tough assignment against South African Ryno Liebenberg in April. He was apparently one of the fighters in contention to fight Andre Ward on Saturday night (6 august), but Colombian Alexander Brand landed that gig instead. Skoglund is currently ranked number 3 with the IBF and number 5 by the WBO.
Blast from the past
In each edition of ‘Swede Science’ we will look at a fighter from the country’s boxing history. In keeping with the Olympics theme, this month we look at heavyweight Olle Tandberg, one of the best Swedish amateurs of the 20th century, who also made a major splash in the pro ranks.
Born in 1918 in Stockholm, Tandberg was one of several pre-Ingemar Johansson heavyweights from Sweden who attempted to storm the world scene. A highly decorated amateur, the 6’3” Tandberg was national champion every year from 1936 until 1940 and lifted the European amateur title in 1937 and 1939. He also fought at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, losing in the quarter-finals to Ferenc Nagy of Hungary.
Tandberg turned pro in 1941 and in only his ninth fight lifted the European Heavyweight title in 1943 with an unexpected unanimous decision victory against Karel Sys, a seasoned Belgian who had participated in nearly 100 pro bouts.
Tandberg lost the title in a rematch though, and then dropped a decision to Britain’s Eddie Phillips at the Royal Albert Hall, despite the fact Phillips had not fought in over six years. One British reporter present at the fight declared that Tandberg “could not punch his weight” and that Phillips had the Swede “rocking repeatedly from heavy punches to the jaw”.
Tandberg rebounded with 12 successive victories, including a shock points victory in 1947 at the Råsunda stadium against top contender Joe Baksi in front of 30,000 fans, a victory which stymied plans for the American to face Joe Louis for the world title.
The New York Times called the contest “the biggest upset in the heavyweight division in eleven years” although Tandberg, with characteristic honesty, admitted he was surprised to have been given the decision. When asked of his prospects should he face the world champion, Tandberg confessed: “I think Louis is too big for me.”
Nevertheless, when Tandberg headed to the United States in 1948 he had every chance of securing a world title shot if he could defeat another top contender. The initial talk was that he would face Ezzard Charles, but instead his American debut came against Joey Maxim at Madison Square Garden.
Although outweighing his opponent by 29lbs, Tandberg received a sound ten-round beating, with the New York Times remarking that his world title aspirations had now “evaporated” and claiming he had been exposed as a “cumbersome novice”.
Tandberg fought twice more in the States before returning to Sweden. Jersey Joe Walcott brought the curtain down on his pro career by stopping him in five rounds at the Råsunda in 1949. It was a testament to Tandberg’s huge popularity in his homeland that 43,000 fans crammed into the stadium to watch the fight.
Although he fell just short of world class, Tandberg’s under-rated boxing skills, and willingness to travel to the United States to chase the top contenders caught the imagination in Sweden, helping pave the way for the emergence of eventual Swedish World Heavyweight Champion Ingemar Johansson by fuelling boxing’s popularity.
With European titles at both amateur and professional level and a final pro record of 23-6-1, Tandberg’s place in Swedish boxing history was assured long before his death in 1996, aged 78.
Over the past few months Boxing Monthly has run several features and interviews relating to Swedish boxing on its website. In case you missed them here they are again …
Boxing Monthly magazine is due to include an extensive feature on Sweden’s boxing ‘comeback’, as well as an exclusive interview with Badou Jack in upcoming issues. Keep your eyes peeled!
If you’ve got any Swedish boxing news or views email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @boxianajournal
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this column, and I’m also keen to hear from any Swedish boxers, past or present!