Sweden has not had a heavyweight World Champion since Ingemar Johansson won the title in 1959 and now undefeated heavyweight Otto Wallin (20-0 13KO) carries the hopes of the nation on his shoulders as he continues to make his rise towards the top of the heavyweight division. The 6’5½” southpaw returns to the ring on Friday evening as he takes on veteran BJ Flores (34-4-1 21KO) in Tacoma, Washington, USA.

Born and raised in Sundsvall, Sweden, Otto Wallin followed his father and brothers into the boxing gym and ultimately fell in-love with the ‘sweet science’. Growing up he dedicated his time to amateur boxing without paying too much attention to the professional boxing world.

Professional boxing was banned in Sweden in 1970 after a study claimed that the sport can cause ‘severe and life threatening’ injuries. The sport remained outlawed until 1996 so for Otto Wallin, professional boxing was not the original dream, instead choosing to focus on representing his country by competing at the Olympic Games until he was approached, out of the blue, to turn professional.

“Professional boxing was not allowed for such a long time, so while being an amateur I didn’t look towards the pros much. The dream was to go to the Olympics and I was working towards that, eventually having 46 amateur fights and earning my place on the Swedish national team.

“But, I was taken by surprise and a big European professional boxing promoter (Sauerland Promotions) approached to sign me. At first I said no, but then after some time, I was interested and I felt ready to turn pro and did so”

Wallin’s professional career began in 2013 and his first fight lasted less than three minutes. Over the course of the next five years, he was kept active and picked up the WBA Continental Heavyweight title as well as the historic EBU European Heavyweight title with a comprehensive points victory over fellow countryman, Adrian Granat in 2018.

“I had 20 fights under the Sauerland banner and in that time, I became the WBA Continental Champion, Swedish champion and European Union champion. I was gaining experience by fighting and training in Germany and Denmark and this is also where I met my coach, Joey Gamache who has helped develop me into the fighter I am becoming today”

As well as being kept active, Wallin was spending training camps sparring the likes of Anthony Joshua, amongst others. The sparring sessions have been integral to his progress and provided him with an insight into what it takes to reach the top of the sport.

“I’ve sparred a lot of these guys and some have been really good, with each of them having good qualities and also their own flaws. Training with them and competing against them, helped me a lot. Sparring is the best training you can get as a boxer so sparring top guys is what you want to do if you want to become one of them”