The Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin got into Tacoma on Tuesday, and he proclaimed that burg “pretty good.”
Now holding a 23-0 mark, the hitter — who has lived for a few years in NYC, honing his craft with trainer Joet Gamache — said that he’s looking forward to gloving up Friday versus vet BJ Flores, a former standout at cruiserweight, now 40 and looking to stay in the game.
Wallin, managed by David Berlin and Zach Levin, said he’s 100 percent mentally and physically.
So what’s his take on BJ?
Flores (34-4-1; 6’2”, around 230 pounds) was stopped by Tony Bellew, and then more recently by Trevor Bryan in Aug. 2018.
“A good name, an experienced fighter that’s been in there with top guys,” Wallin said of Flores. “I’m not looking past him and expecting the best version of him. But yeah, he’s 40 now, so he’s at the end. I feel like I’m a better fighter than him and also bigger and stronger. This is heavyweight!”
I did wonder, would the 6’5” Wallin, a lefty, maybe not be displeased if he got some rounds in? Because in his last scrap on that Claressa Shields undercard, foe Nick Kisner said he was hurting and the ref pulled the plug after one completed round in Jersey.
“Yes, absolutely, I think I’ll get some good rounds with an experienced fighter. I need a few rounds!”
But would anyone be too bummed if he were able to secure his 14th stoppage in his 21st official outing (the Kisner fight was an NC)?
“I’m not sure. They might look at it as he’s an old cruiser, but we’ll see.”
Point taken; at this point I truly figured that this Wallin is sharp. And if those smarts can and do translate well to the ring, well, that could give him an extra boost as he continues to seek to climb the ratings ladders, while promoter Dmitry Salita looks to get him work.
“That all doesn’t matter so much right now. If I win I beat a good name and hopefully getting a few rounds to get back in there. I’m looking to fight two more times this year.”
The WBA thinks highly of Wallin, he’s slated at No. 5 in their rankings. The IBF has him rated No. 11. He won’t pretend he’s the finished project and is just biding time till a title shot.
“Been working on everything,” he told BLH. “I have had great sparring in New York with probably more than six different guys, so I’m very ready for this fight.”
One particular knife sharpener has been Vladimir Tereshkin, a Russian heavyweight who has a 20-0-1 mark, and is also a lefty.
“Only thing was, he was 6’6” and 260 pounds and a southpaw, but it was great work and we put a lot of rounds in.” Besides that, Romarik Ngoulo and Solomon Nkosi did rounds with the Swede.
Looking the tiniest bit forward, we know Andy Ruiz Jr has the WBA belt. Trevor Bryan is ranked No. 1, Oleksandr Usyk No. 2, Dillian Whyte No. 3, Anthony Joshua holds the No. 4 slot, and then Wallin.
”It is a high ranking,” he continued. “I just have to stay focused and not take anything for granted, so I’m ready when the big fights come.”
It’s not just work-work-work for Wallin. The 28-year-old had a visit to Yankee Stadium and enjoyed the vibe recently.
“I wish I saw a game! I was outside to check it out. I will go soon! Baseball is almost nonexistent in Sweden, unfortunately.”
We discussed what makes winners tick. Wallin saw a doc on Larry Bird and Magic Johnson a few days ago, and their mindset, especially Bird’s, affected him.
Mindset but of course is a most primary ingredient in elevating in this sweet but savage science of a sport. The brain has to be sharp and clear, ideally, to keep on grinding at the level needed to get to that title shot territory. We touched on that, and discussed staying on message, even after sadness visits. Wallin lost his dad to heart attack on May 22, so he has to wrestle at times with grief.
Dad was Carl Wallin, born in 1950, died from a heart attacked in his apartment in Sundsvall, Sweden.
“It’s been very hard,” Wallin admitted. “It’s been very hard, of course, but I’ve actually not missed any days of training since he died. In the beginning it was hard to keep it together in the gym, but I’ve kept training. My father was my biggest fan and he told me many times that if something was to happen to him, I should keep going and keep fighting.”
And speaking to that, fighting — what is Wallin’s prediction for the Wallin vs Flores fight, which shares space with a Jermaine Franklin versus Jerry Forrest?
”I’ll win,” Walling said, in closing, “which is most important. If I see a knockout, I’ll take it!”