Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin (17-0, 11 KOs) watched from ringside as his domestic rival Adrian Granat suffered a crushing first-round knockout defeat to Russian veteran Alexander Dimitrenko on March 18 at the Baltiska Hallen in Malmo, losing both his IBF International title and undefeated record in the process.
Granat had been headlining his hometown arena for the first time with an international title fight, much like Wallin will do on Saturday when he meets Italian Champion Gianluca Mandras (12-4, 5 KOs) for the WBA Continental Heavyweight strap at the Sporthallen in his own hometown of Sundsvall.
Ahead of this homecoming bout, the undefeated southpaw says he will not make the same mistakes as Granat, as he looks to claim his first professional prize and continue his upward trajectory towards a World title challenge.
‘’Of course, there’s extra pressure when you’re fighting at home, and maybe this had an impact on Granat,’’ reflects Wallin. ‘’But to be honest, he is who he is, and for me, he is the same fighter he was as an amateur. I’ve seen this from him before. He likes to keeps his hands low, and in heavyweight boxing anyone can get caught, and if you’re not fully focused, it can only take one punch.
‘’I think he was getting complacent going into that fight. He thought he was on the top of the world because he had fourteen wins. Look at me, I’m 17-0, but I still know I have a long way to go before I’m ready to match the top guys. I’m just trying to be humble. I’m in the gym everyday working hard to improve, and when my time comes, I know I will be ready.
‘’It’s about keeping your feet on the ground and working hard everyday. If you start believing your own hype, and saying your ready for this fight and that fight, like Granat, then you’re asking for trouble. There are no shortcuts in this game.
‘’I won’t make the same mistakes as him I’m not looking for a quick payday. I’m here for the long haul. I’m going to take my time and develop in the right way.’’
Prior to his defeat, it seemed inevitable that the undefeated heavyweights would meet in huge domestic showdown, and while disappointed he wasn’t the one to spoil Granat’s perfect record, Wallin says he is still open to sharing a ring with his Swedish rival.
‘’Who knows if he is going to box again,’’ says Wallin. ‘’I hope he does, so we can still fight, but let’s see. He definitely wouldn’t be getting the same amount of money he wanted to face me before.
‘’I’ve always been confident I would beat him even before his loss. I would have preferred to have beat him while he was undefeated, but if he wants the fight, we can still do it. I’m sure it’s a fight that the Swedish fans would love to see.
‘’At the same time, my career isn’t dependent on him. If we fight we fight, and if we don’t we don’t. I’m on my own journey. I don’t need him, and I know whatever happens, I’ve got the right people around me to guide me to the top!’’
Otto Wallin headlines his hometown arena with a WBA Continental title fight against Gianluca Mandras on April 22 at the Sportahllen, while Swedish stars Mikaela Laurén, Oscar Ahlin, Hampus Henriksson, Kennedy Katende, Rocco Wadell and Patricia Berghult return to action as part of a stacked undercard, which also features Icelandic heavyweight Gunnar Kolbeinn Kristinsson.
Tickets for the Nordic Fight Night are available online via www.biljettforum.se or by calling the ticket hotline on 0771-130 150. All the action will be shown live and exclusive across Scandinavia on Viaplay Fighting. For more information, please visit www.viaplay.se/fighting