Unbeaten rising heavyweight contenders Jermaine Franklin and Otto Wallin will be looking to make a splash and announce themselves in the heavyweight division when they step in for separate bouts live on SHOWTIME Saturday, April 13 from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
The SHOWTIME BOXING: SPECIAL EDITION tripleheader will air beginning at 9 p.m. ET/PT and is headlined by Claressa Shields battling Christina Hammer for the undisputed women’s middleweight championship.
Franklin will face Rydell Booker while Wallin takes on Nick Kisner in a pair of 10-round attractions leading up to the main event. For both Franklin and Wallin, they see April 13 as a step towards their larger goals.
“Booker is in the way of where I’m eventually trying to be,” said Franklin. “I’m part of that next generation of heavyweights and I’m working hard to end up as the heavyweight champion when the dust settles. I always find a way to win and I’m going to show it on April 13.”
“Coming to the U.S. for the second part of my career is very exciting,” said Wallin. “I’ve accomplished a lot in my career in Europe but this is a new beginning. This is the moment I’ve been dreaming of since I first laced up mitts and I can’t wait to introduce myself to the fans here.”
A 25-year-old from Saginaw, Michigan, Franklin hopes to show that he’s primed to become the next American heavyweight champion, and is ready to take the mantle from current WBC titlist Deontay Wilder and the long line of American heavyweight champions that came before him.
“I’m going to raise the competition amongst the heavyweights,” said Franklin. “The division is definitely back on the map and I’m planning on having a hand in making it must-watch TV once again. America needs another face in the heavyweight division and that’s going to be me.
“I already believe that I am the best heavyweight in the world. There are a lot of big, strong heavyweights, but I’m a balanced athlete, which makes me different. I’m strong, fast, athletic and getting better with each fight.”
Although his native Sweden is not known for boxing, Wallin’s home country has previously produced a heavyweight champion in Ingemar Johansson, who famously stopped Floyd Patterson in their first fight at Yankee Stadium in 1959. After defeating fellow Swedish heavyweight Adrian Granat in his last fight, Wallin decided it was time to fight in the U.S., following previous training camps in New York with trainer Joey Gamache.
“Training here in New York brings me a great energy and it shows in my performance,” said Wallin. “It’s the center of the world, and while I’m fully focused on training, I feed off the energy of the city.
“Ingemar Johansson is of course a big inspiration for me. When he came to the U.S. and beat Floyd Patterson, he was the baddest man on the planet. I’m looking to take that mantle and become a hero for young Swedish boxers, just like he has been for me.”
In addition to being Wallin’s U.S. debut, the unbeaten heavyweights will make their first appearances on SHOWTIME and it will be Franklin’s first time fighting in the northeast. They each hope to show off their respective talents and are prepared for what comes with the increased platform.
“This is a great chance for me to showcase my skills, but I still treat it like just another fight,” said Franklin. “I’m going to adapt to my opponent and expose his weaknesses. I’m always improving because once you think you know it all, that’s when you find out you know nothing.”
“I’m just a kid from a small town in Sweden and I’ve worked hard to get to this point,” said Wallin. “Training here in the U.S. and fighting here is going to help me put on the best performance of my career. The fun begins on April 13 and I’m not stopping until I am champion.”
Both recently signed with Dmitriy Salita’s Salita Promotions and on April 13 will begin a year that could leave each fighter on the precipice of a title shot.
“On April 13 two of the best heavyweight in the world, one from the U.S., one from Sweden, will both have a chance to make a claim that they are ready to challenge for the heavyweight title,” said Salita.
“Jermaine Franklin is by far the best American heavyweight prospect who is soon to be a contender and a champion. He will have a great opportunity to showcase his skills and worth against the experienced, hungry and accomplished Rydell Booker.
“Boxing is a sport of individual stories and Otto Wallin is a great example of that. A top-rated heavyweight from a small town in Sweden, he is showing that dreams, combined with hard work, can come true. He is one of the best heavyweight contenders from Europe and on April 13 he will show that he belongs with the elite in the U.S.”
With this opportunity to announce themselves in the resurgent heavyweight division, Franklin and Wallin are keyed for eye-opening performances next Saturday.
“My ultimate goal is to become world champion and I believe right now I’m on the right path,” said Wallin, who is ranked No. 5 by the IBF and WBA. “I had good years fighting in Europe, but now is the time for me to go to the next level. I can’t wait to show everyone what I’m all about and give the fans great fights.”
“I’m planning to be a major force in the heavyweight division by the end of the year,” said Franklin. “It’s my coming out party. I feel like my dreams are going to come true. I’m going to show everyone who I am: the best new heavyweight in the world.”
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Salita Promotions, are priced at $150, $100, $55 and $35 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster and atboardwalkhall.com.