Otto Wallin Gives Boxing Insider Radio His Thoughts on His Upcoming Contest Against Travis Kauffman, How He Dealt With COVID-19 and Empty Arenas
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.
To listen in on the conversation, head over to Spotify, iTunes or BoxingInsider.com to subscribe.
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.”
Otto Wallin Takes on Travis Kauffman on August 15th
By: Hans Themistode
For six years, the name Otto Wallin was an obscure one. Yet in the span of 36 minutes, the Swedish born fighter became a bonafide contender.
On September 14th, of 2019, Wallin walked into a heavyweight showdown against Tyson Fury without a prayer in the world. A paycheck and a pat on the back were the rewards awaiting Wallin after the contest. Yet after 12 rounds, he earned his respect. The previously undefeated contender bloodied Fury and seemed to be on his way to a Buster Douglas-esque upset. However, a second half rally by the champion closed the book on any Cinderella stories on the night.
Now, nearly one year later, Wallin returns to the ring on August 15th, against Travis Kauffman. The two will co- main event at the Mohegan Sun arena in Uncasville, Connecticut as part of a three bout Showtime telecast.
For Wallin, his new found popularity was something he wanted to take advantage of much sooner. Unfortunately for the Swedish native, he was bitten with the injury bug. A fractured left foot forced his March 28th, contest against former champion Lucas Browne to the scrap heap. To make matters worse, he also contracted COVID-19 and felt the effects immediately.
Wallin complained of a loss of taste and smell, amongst other issues. He has since fully recovered and is now set to return to the ring.
As for Kauffman, his career has been a rollercoaster as of late. He has gone 2-2 over his past four fights with a no contest against Chris Arreola Sandwiched in between. Much like Wallin, activity has not been his friend as of late as he was last seen in the ring against Luis Ortiz in December of 2018. Kauffman was dropped three times during the bout before getting stopped in the final round.
Interview: Otto Wallin is Ready to Take Home the EU Heavyweight Boxing Title
Otto Wallin (19-0, 13 KOs) is Sweden’s top Heavyweight and he is taking the division by storm. Wallin faces Adrian Granat (15-1, 14 KOs) this weekend at the Gardehov Ice Hockey Arena in Sundsvall, Sweden for the European Union Title.
How do you feel about fighting at home in Sweden?
“I love fighting at home so that is the biggest venue for me. I never had one special place except for home. When I started as a pro, boxing wasn’t really allowed in Sweden. There were a lot of restrictions, So I had my first 14 fights outside the country. It started last year, so that was when I had my first fight as a pro at home.
Fighting at home is the best. I feel a lot of support. I come from a small town, about 100 thousand people and I can just walk through the city and people are cheering me on. There is more at stake but I like it. I’ve always had my best fight at home as a professional and amateur. The support motivates me.”
Otto Wallin played other sports growing up, but found boxing around 15 or 16 and decided that was what he wanted to do.
“I played ice hockey and soccer and I wanted to be an ice hockey player as a kid. Eventually, I stopped those sports and went into boxing. I felt right away that it was for me. It was great and something that I immediately wanted to do”
Otto Wallin made his professional debut in 2013 and has been making a name for himself that extends far beyond his home country. Wallin now trains in New York City with his head coach Joey Gamache.
What do you think about life in New York?
“I was training with Joey Gamache in Denmark for four years. Last spring he moved back to New York. It is great to keep training with Joey. So, that is the most important thing.
There is so much going on here. A lot of heavyweights, great sparring – That is something that I lacked in Sweden and throughout Europe. It is great. I’m sparring with top guys, which is the most important thing for training.”
Are there any boxers or trainers (past or present) that you consider an inspiration or role model?
“My biggest inspiration is my trainer, Joey. He’s been there and done it as a world champ. I am confident with him and love training with him.”
What do you feel is the secret to success in this sport?
“If you look at the great fighters they usually have a big mentor. A trainer or someone who is by their side most of their careers. It is important to have a good team that you trust and you know you can go somewhere with. That has to be tough to change trainers. Trust. They know you and you know them. They are dedicated and serious which makes a difference.”
This next bout will be a big test for both boxers who have known each other since they were amateurs. There is no love lost between the two of them.
Otto Wallin is a gentleman by nature and doesn’t care for the Granat’s cocky demeanor.
“I think with that fight, I don’t like how he presents himself. How he says he will knock out and beat his opponents. You have to do it with class. You have to take every opponent seriously. This is business and you should respect everyone, win or lose.”
What makes you different from other guys in your division?
“I’m technically sound and I am built well and fast for a heavyweight.”
Standing over 6 feet 5 inches tall with an undefeated record, that statement is difficult to argue with. Despite being a heavyweight, Otto Wallin is conscious of his diet.
“I cook, which is good for me. There’s not much time when I’m not training. I hang out with friends. There is so much to see. It’s a beautiful city and great energy. Everyone has been very friendly.
When I have cheat days usually go for burgers. I love food. I’m in a Spanish neighborhood here. I also love ice cream.”
What has been the most difficult part of life as a professional boxer?
“Being away from family and friends. For me, that is the hardest part but it is worth it to be able to train and compete like I do.”