Otto Wallin has emerged as Sweden’s latest heavyweight hope, so we asked him about title aims, sparring Anthony Joshua, and following in the footsteps of a champion.
The unbeaten 27-year-old has gradually risen the rankings with 20 wins, including a unanimous decision verdict over compatriot Adrian Granat in April, and expects to continue his progression with a European title fight.
Not since 1960 has Sweden hailed a world heavyweight king, with Ingemar Johansson becoming their sole champion for a brief spell after his win over Floyd Patterson, and Wallin hopes to emulate the national hero.
How would you describe your last victory?
I think my performance was alright. I started off good and I won the first eight rounds, and then I got a little defensive, but it was okay.
It was a big fight for me, so I’m happy I got the win, but there is always room for improvement. It was my first 12-rounder.
When will you return to the ring this year?
We’re working on a mandatory for the European title. We’re trying to get that fight against (Agit) Kabayel, so hopefully we get that, but he’s allowed to have a voluntary first. We’ll see what happens.
I would like [the fight] before the end of the year, but let’s see what he decides to do. I think they are looking at their options, but if I could choose, I would fight him at the end of the year.
Any interest in Robert Helenius after he called you out?
Yes, that would be interesting, if it would be for something. I’ve already got the EU title, and I don’t know if he has any title now, but if he was to be the European champion for example, then I would fight him.
Right now, I’m more looking at Kabayel and the European title.
How popular is boxing in Sweden?
I think it’s on the rise. It’s been banned for a long time. We had good fighters in Anthony Yigit and Erik Skoglund, who unfortunately got injured, but he took the lead. He was the one that really helped professional boxing back for Sweden. I’m really thankful for what he’s done.
I think Sweden needs a good fighter, someone that can bring in the crowds, get a good following. Hopefully I’m that man. Of course my name has to be bigger and I’ve got to prove myself.
What do you think of Britain’s crop of heavyweights?
I love watching boxing from England, because it looks like a party all the time with the crowds, and everyone singing. They’re having a good time, so I really like watching boxing from there.
Yeah I would like that [to fight in Britain]. There’s so many good fighters there, so it’s hard to pick one, but we’ll see who is in front of me, and who we’re going to fight.
Do you rate Anthony Joshua highly after you sparred him?
We also fought twice as amateurs. I lost them both on points. I think he’s a good fighter, Anthony, he’s strong and he’s fast for his size. He’s always improving.
The first time we fought that was maybe 2008 or 2009. We were both young, like 10 fights each, and then we fought again . Even then, he had improved a lot, and when I sparred him, he had improved even more.
Are you inspired by Ingemar Johansson?
Yes, of course, he’s a big inspiration. He went to America to win the world title when there was only one then. He was like the baddest man on the planet.
It’s always been the goal and my dream, so that’s what I’m going for.