By: Hans Themistode
The need to prove himself has become perpetual at this point for heavyweight contender Otto Wallin.
The Swedish born native became an overnight rockstar with his competitive loss to Lineal and WBC champion Tyson Fury in September of 2019. Even with wins over the likes of Dereck Chisora, Wladimir Klitschko and Deontay Wilder, no one pushed Fury to the limit quite like Wallin.
His efforts may have resulted in the first loss of his career, but in fact, it was more of a trade off.
Public notoriety, respect and a permanent spot as a heavyweight contender are now associated with Wallin’s name. But so are words such as lucky and bullshit.
Now, heading into his showdown against fringe contender Travis Kauffman later on today at the Mohegan Sun Casino, in Uncasville Connecticut, Wallin (20-1, 13 KOs) is looking to prove that he is far from the latter.
“It’s not so much about proving that the Fury fight wasn’t a fluke,” said Wallin during a recent press webinar. “It is about me going out there and being myself and taking care of Kauffman. He’s a good fighter, so I have to be alert at all times, but I feel like I am just a better fighter so as long as I go out and perform, no one will be saying it is a fluke and that I am for real.”
It’s safe to say that Wallin was at the bottom of the barrel before his 2019 matchup with Fury. When their contest was first announced, fans and media members alike scrambled to find any footage of the 6 ft 5 big man. While very little was actually discovered, none of it mattered. Wallin was nothing more than a footnote on the night as the world focused on Fury.
As the rounds passed by during their matchup however, and blood on Fury’s face began to spread, the sports world began to take notice of Wallin.
Now, nearly one year later, Wallin has a chance to build on that success.
Like most of the sports landscape, fans won’t be able to attend his contest live and in person. But while those aforementioned fans can pick up their remotes and flick on his fight to see if he’s the real deal or not, Wallin is simply hoping that once he’s done putting Kauffman out of his misery, that the fans will join him in his campaign for a shot at gold.
“Hopefully I will get a title shot soon. I did better against Fury than anybody has, so you can take that and see that I am one of the top guys. I think that I am one of the top guys and I am happy to be fighting again so I can show that. The champions are tied up with themselves, so we will see what happens, but I feel like after the Fury fight people know that I am in that mix. Fury seems to always be calling people out, but he never mentions my name. But before I focus on any of those guys, it is important for me to take care of Kauffman and stay busy, then get back in the ring quickly.”
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.”