Heavyweight contender Otto Wallin has seen his return to the ring truncated on several occasions. Between constant opponent changes and a one on one battle with COVID-19, Wallin has been through a lot. Despite the ups and down, all systems are a go for his come back fight against Travis Kauffman on August 15th.
The Swedish born contender pressed pause on his preparations for his upcoming contest in order to give Boxing Insider radio an update on how he see’s his matchup playing out, his battle with COVID-19 and what he expects with no crowd in the stands.
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It was a night he couldn’t forget it, although it didn’t end the way he expected.
Going into his heavyweight contest against Tyson Fury in September of 2019, Otto Wallin was branded with the number 29 across his forehead. The figure signified that the Swedish native would be the 29th victory of Fury’s career.
The current lineal and WBC champion did in fact, have his hand raised in victory. But after 12 grueling rounds, he was left bloodied and battered. The loss for Wallin (20-1, 13 KOs) may have blemished his once undefeated record, but more importantly, it gave his name credibility in the heavyweight division. Now, nearly one year later, he’ll finally return to the ring when he takes on fringe contender Travis Kauffman (32-3, 23 KOs) on August 15th.
Under normal circumstances, sitting on the sidelines for almost one year following the best performance of his career would have left him acrimonious. But with this global pandemic currently taking place, Wallin is just looking forward to finally getting back in the ring.
“I’m very excited,” said Wallin on BoxingInsider radio. “It’s been almost a year since I fought Fury and it’s been a crazy year. This pandemic has shut everything down so I’ve been in New York. It’s been difficult but I’ve been training this whole time. It’s nice to finally get a fight.”
Preparing for a fight these days takes a bit of imagination. Parks are no longer just a place to enjoy picnics and watch the scenery. No, they have been turned into de facto training facilities for professional boxers. In the New York City area, passersby can sometimes find the hulking contender as he shadows boxes in prospect park as he prepares for his comeback fight.
“I’ve been doing a lot of training in the parks and at home. But for the past two months now I’ve been using a private gym. I have sparring and everything that I need, so I feel good for this fight. Kauffman is a veteran and he is a pretty good fighter. Ultimately, I think that my youth, speed and movement is going to be too much for him.”
Preparing to get punched in the face is a welcomed sight for the heavyweight contender. Slipping punches, getting a black eye and bloodied nose or scoring a knockout is something that he has grown accustomed to. Facing an invisible opponent however, such as COVID-19, was something that he had no prior experience doing.
Nevertheless, like most of his bouts, Wallin walked through his matchup with the deadly disease as the winner. And although it has claimed the lives of countless others, Wallin recalls his contest as a one sided affair in his favor.
“For me it wasn’t that bad at all. I woke up one day and had a little sore throat and felt a bit under the weather. I knew the recommendations were as soon as you feel anything to just stay home, so that’s what I did. It wasn’t very bad. I had a light fever and a cough but I started getting better. But then all of a sudden I lost all of my taste and smell. Thankfully, I ended up getting better again so it wasn’t that bad.”
Wallin’s bout with COVID-19 may have been a cake walk, but he is expecting his matchup against Travis Kauffman to be anything but. Other than his contest with Fury, Wallin has seldom found himself in a difficult scenario. Yet, whenever he did, the fans screaming his name from the bleachers always pulled him through.
This time around of course, the arena will be silent as fans continue to watch from the comfort of their homes due to the pandemic. It doesn’t make his fights any easier or much fun, but with or without fans, Wallin intends to get the job done on August 15th.
“I love fighting in front of fans of course. But I know that I want to get better and to get better I need fights. I need to stay busy and take what’s out there. I just need to go out there and handle business.”