By: Ste Rowen
This coming Saturday, in the Stone City, two Swedish heavyweight rivals are set to collide. At Sundsvall’s Gaerdehov Ice Hockey Arena, unbeaten southpaw, Otto Wallin, 19-0 (13KOs) takes on Adrian ‘The Pike’ Granat, 15-1 (14KOs) for the vacant EBU European ‘Union’ heavyweight strap.
A relative late comer to the sport, Wallin only took up boxing at aged 16, 11 years later he finds himself as his country’s number one rated heavyweight, and lucky for him, he has a legitimate domestic rival that, if victorious this weekend, could fan the flames for a world title shot.
‘It’s a big shot.’ Wallin told ‘Laugh At First Site’, ‘I just wanna beat this guy ‘cos I wanna show who’s the best heavyweight in Sweden. The title is nice but I just wanna win the fight and beat this guy.’
‘He’s always been talking about me, saying I’m an easy fight but lately he’s been a little bit more on the other side saying it’s gonna be a tough fight. He’s realising that he’s in for a treat.’
‘We were around each other as amateurs but we never fought. To be honest I didn’t like him back then either. Just something about him that I couldn’t really handle, so it’ll be nice to get in the ring.’
Currently training out of New York, last time fans saw the unbeaten Swede was in Riga, on the Briedis vs Usyk undercard when Wallin overwhelmed 6-4 Bosnian, Srdan Govedarica. It was a stay busy fight that helped to build up the appetite for this all-Swedish clash, as Otto took till just the 3rd round of the scheduled 8, to stop the rank outsider. Before then, the Sundsvall native had been steadily building on his record with victories such as his dominant 2016 10-round decision win over the well-travelled, Raphael Zumbano Love and a 3rd round knockout of another Brazilian, in the form of Irineu Beato Costa Junior, whose previous opponents include the likes of Dillian Whyte, Christian Hammer and, up until recently the WBO world champion, Joseph Parker.
But it’s Saturday’s bout that will be the benchmark that decides whether Wallin has a future at the top level of the heavyweight scene.
The road to this weekend’s Swedish showdown hasn’t been quite so smooth for Granat.
Much like his upcoming opponent, ‘The Pike’ had been accumulating victories over reputable, but limited foes, including early knockout wins over Michael Sprott, Danny Williams and Evgeny Orlov, but just over 12 months ago, Adrian suffered a massive set back after suffering a 1st round KO to Alexander Dimitrenko.
On the front foot early, Granat had his hands low when the Russian fired a right hook that sent the Swede to the canvas for the first time in his pro career. ‘The Pike’ looked pretty vacant as he rose, and subsequently took 16 unanswered punches before hitting the canvas for a 2nd time, and this time for good.
It’s arguably why he’s had to look towards a domestic bout, rather than forward against the likes of Agit Kabayal and Dillian Whyte, which he might’ve done if he’d scored a victory over Dimitrenko.
The Malmo native returned to winning ways in December with a 4th round stoppage over 9-5 Georgian, Irakli Gvenetadze. Granat has also recently linked up with American trainer, Jonathan Banks and he’s already feeling the improvements,
‘To train with Jonathan Banks at the Kronk Gym and to meet all those guys there was a pretty cool experience. I first met Jonathan in Hamburg when I was sparring with Dillian Whyte. After that he invited me to come and spar Klitschko. We got on pretty well so when I was looking for a new coach, I gave him a call and he was interested.’
‘I’m not going to tell you exactly what we’ve been working on but I will say the past 10 weeks training with Jonathan could not have gone any better.’
‘I’m focusing on myself, not on Otto… It’s hard to say what happens when we come face-to-face but all I know is, I feel really good and I’ll be ready for whatever he brings.’
Saturday’s fight certainly won’t push the winner to the front of an already heavily crowded queue for the world title accolades, but it should certainly setup some pretty tasty contender matchups in the near future.
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