Wallin relishing Sweden’s boxing renaissance
Luke G. Williams
Rising Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin (15-0, 11 KOs) returns to action on home soil in Stockholm on 10 September on the undercard of the domestic super-fight between Mikaela Laurén and Klara Svensson. Boxing Monthly checked in with the Sundsvall southpaw ahead of his latest challenge and found him delighting in the sport’s rebirth in his native country …
BM: Last time you fought was in April when you defeated Irineu Beato Costa Junior in the third round. What is your assessment of that performance? And what was it like fighting on such a big night of boxing in Stockholm?
OW: I was happy with that fight. I had Costa Junior down after just one minute and after that he went down four more times. I kept my composure, took my time and finished the fight well. It was a great experience to fight in Stockholm, I'm so happy we are able to fight in Sweden again and that brings a lot of extra motivation to my training.
BM: Next up, on 10 September, you face South African champ Osborne Machimana. What do you know about him? What sort of a challenge are you expecting?
OW: I know he's a veteran and a dangerous guy. I'm expecting a guy that comes a long way from South Africa to fight and win but I will be ready.
BM: Can you explain how your training has been going this summer. Who have you been sparring? What have you learnt? How have you improved? What do you still need to work on?
OW: I've been training all the way since my last fight in April so I feel like I'm in great shape and that I'm improving all the time. My coach Joey Gamache is improving me all the way around and I'm trying to become a better fighter every day. I'm sparring some different guys here in Copenhagen, I've been sparring big guys - amateurs, professionals and MMA fighters. I will top that sparring before my fight when I'm going to Poland to spar cruiserweight world champion Krzysztof Glowacki - I'm looking forward to that.
BM: Professional boxing only returned to Sweden in 2007, and it took another eight years for the first full 12-round contest since the 1960s to take place on Swedish soil. Now, though, boxing in Sweden seems to be going really well, with lots of interest and several fighters with a lot of potential. What does it mean to you to be fighting regularly in your homeland now?
OW: It means everything to me, it was a dream come true last year to fight for the first time as a professional in my home country [Wallin’s contest against Vladimir Goncharov in September 2015 was his first professional bout in Sweden]. I want to thank the people that have worked for it to become a reality, I promise to pay them back the best way I can!
BM: What are your plans after September? Do you think you will fight again in 2016? How many fights do you hope to have in 2017? When do you hope to fight for the EBU or world titles? How do you see the next few years going for you?
OW: I take this fight first and foremost but the plan is to fight two more times after this one in 2016. I want to fight four times in 2017 and I'm just trying to improve with every fight so that when my opportunity to fight for a title comes I will be as ready as I can be. I'm going take my time to become as good as I can.
BM: You are probably sick of being asked this ... but do you have any thoughts about your domestic rival and fellow unbeaten heavyweight Adrian Granat and when we might see a showdown between you two? What is your assessment of Granat's strengths and weaknesses?
OW: I think a fight between us will be a great domestic fight for Swedish boxing, if we both keep winning that fight is going to happen sooner rather than later. He's a big strong guy and he's been looking good. I see some flaws in him and I will expose them when we meet in the ring.
BM: Which boxers do you most admire, both now and from the past? Why do you admire these particular fighters?
OW: There's a lot of fighters I admire, heavyweights like Ali, Tyson, Frazier, Ingemar Johansson brings me lots of motivation. I also like fighters like Pernell Whitaker, Andre Ward and Manny Pacquiao. If I had to pick one of the bunch that has inspired me the most it would be Ali. He inspires me with his tremendous skills and ability to be at his best when he needed to be. What he did outside the ring and his will to stand up for himself and others made him very special.
BM: Can you explain what a typical day's training for you involves?
OW: A typical day's training for me starts in the gym at 11am with my coach Joey. We work out for two hours and we do drills for footwork, speed, movement etc and then we usually work the pads or sparring if we're getting closer to a fight. In the evening at 18:00 I meet with my strength and conditioning coach Rune Fog Brix. He’s trying to improve my strength, power and conditioning which is going well. I've always been a good runner and now I'm starting to get some real strength and power. Rune has a track and field background and he's very important in our training, he's putting a lot of work in and it's paying off. We usually work out for two to three hours.
BM: Among the current heavyweights out there, who do you think is the best in the world right now and why?
OW: I think Tyson Fury is the best one at the moment, he has good boxing skills for a big man and he showed against Klitschko that he has that rare ability to be at his best when he's got to be. I think that was what made the difference in that fight, Fury fought the best he could and Klitschko didn't fight at all almost!
BM: Finally, if you were going to pick out another Swedish boxer as a potential or likely world champion who would it be?
OW: I will say Klara Svensson, so I hope that she proves me right on 10 September! [Svensson faces Mikaela Laurén for the WBC Interim Female Welterweight title].