Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin says he has too many physical advantages, while former world title challenger BJ Flores says he has too much experience to lose their upcoming 10-round clash.
WBA No. 5-ranked Wallin (20-0, 13 KOs) and Flores (34-4-1, 21 KOs) will meet this Friday, July 12, in the co-featured bout of a ShoBox: The New Generation tripleheader telecast (live on SHOWTIME 10 p.m. ET/PT) from the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma, Wash.
Presented by Salita Promotions and Brian Halquist Productions, “Battle at the Boat 122” will also feature top American heavyweight prospect Jermaine Franklin (18-0, 13 KOs), from Saginaw, Mich., returning for his second consecutive ShoBox test against the streaking Jerry Forrest (25-2, 19 KOs), of Newport News, Va., in the 10-round headliner and in the opening televised bout, undefeated featherweight Giovanni Mioletti (16-0, 7 KOs) of Chicago will face Ecuador’s Luis Porozo (14-0, 7 KOs).
The 28-year-old Wallin, a southpaw from Sundsvall, Sweden, says he’s been expanding his horizons working with trainer Joey Gamache at Mendez Boxing in Manhattan.
“Training has been very good. I have been back in New York for six weeks now and I’ve had some great sparring with a lot of different guys and different styles,” said 28-year-old Wallin. “Sparring is the best training you can get. It’s the most like a fight, so just getting in with all these different guys is a great experience.”
Undefeated Wallin says he’s got too much of everything for former cruiserweight Flores in this fight.
“BJ Flores is a guy that’s experienced, but I know what to do,” Wallin said. “I have the tools to beat him. He’s good as a cruiserweight, but this is a heavyweight fight. It’s different than being a good cruiser. I will win because I’m a better boxer with better skills. I’m too big, young and strong for him. I always get nervous before a fight, but that’s part of it. Being nervous makes me sharper. I will eventually break him down.”
It’s been something of a whirlwind career for Wallin, who turned pro as the number one heavyweight on the Swedish National team after just 50 amateur fights. Heavily courted by promoters for his immense natural talent, Wallin now finds himself signed with Salita Promotions and in the top 5 of the WBA ratings after 20 pro fights.
He credits trainer Gamache, himself a popular former fighter, with much of his success.
“Joey used to live in Denmark and so did I,” Wallin said. “That’s where we met six years ago. I followed him back to the US when he came back and I signed with Salita at the beginning of this year. We have a great relationship. I love him as a coach and as a person He’s done a lot for me including bringing me over here and making all these connections. I trust him 100% and he trusts me too.”
Wallin says having a great team behind him means ramping up his quest for a world championship.
“I want to have three or four fights this year. I haven’t had that many fights the last couple years, so it’s important to me to stay busy. Next year, I’ll be looking for a bigger fight. I’m very excited about everything that is happening.”
The 40-year-old Flores, originally from Arizona, says preparations went surprisingly well for this fight.
“Training couldn’t have gone better,” Flores said. “I had eight good weeks of training and I have zero injuries. To be honest, I thought camp would be tougher, but everything bounced back nicely. I’ve been sparring for seven weeks. I normally have something nagging on fight week, but I sparred 10 rounds Saturday. I sparred four rounds today. I have 22 rounds in since last Wednesday and I feel great.”
Flores, a two-time world cruiserweight title challenger, says Wallin will be facing a totally different type of opponent than the ones he’s used to.
“He’s never been tested by a guy who thought he could win. Everybody he’s fought came in as an opponent. That’s not to say he’s not good, but I’m the first fighter on his resume coming in expecting to win and I’ve been in with far better opposition.
“I feel like once I get him in the middle rounds and show him he’s in with somebody who is not going anywhere, that’s when we will find out what he’s made of. My experience and game plan are perfect for testing an untested guy. Just because he’s untested doesn’t mean he can’t fight, but we’re going to find out Friday night.”
Contrary to most fighters’ preference, Flores says he’s happy Wallin is a left-handed fighter.
“I’ve been sparring nothing but tall southpaws. In fact, I haven’t sparred an orthodox fighter in nine weeks. I prefer to fight southpaws. It’s better for my punch selection to fight a southpaw. I’ve never had a problem with it and I’ve never lost to one.”
Now a 16-year pro, Flores says he won’t be worried if the younger fighter comes out with some early aggression.
“If he wants to start fast, that’s OK. I don’t care about the first two or three rounds. The real fight starts after the fourth round. I plan on winning the early rounds, but even if I don’t, it doesn’t matter until we get in the middle rounds. I’m going to attack and be aggressive and go up and down on him. Get him to the middle rounds and see where he’s at. I know where I’m at. I’ve been in with the best heavyweights and cruiserweights in the world over the last 15 years. I feel great and I’m ready.”
Barry Tompkins will call the action from ringside with boxing historian Steve Farhood and former world champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.