Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin is backing Kai Robin Havnaa (11-0, 9 KOs) to impress as the Norwegian cruiserweight faces Gezim Tahiri (13-3, 7 KOs) in a ten-round homecoming fight on February 3 at the SØR Amfi in Arendal.
The Sundsvall southpaw has been sparring Havnaa to help him prepare for his first left-handed opponent, and having shared the ring with the undefeated 29-year-old, Wallin believes Havnaa is ready to record his twelfth professional victory.
“Kai is looking really good,” said Wallin, who moved to 19-0 with a unanimous points victory over Srdan Govedarica last weekend in Riga. “I was in Arendal for a week before my last fight and we had many good rounds of sparring.
“He is the type of fighter that’s always improving and always in great shape. You can tell he’s more experienced now and getting better and better all the time.
“It is going to be his first fight against a southpaw, but he’ll be prepared for that. We’ve done a lot of work together so he will know what to expect in the ring. I think we will see his best ever performance on Saturday night!”
Wallin enjoyed his own homecoming fight last April in Sundsvall where he claimed the WBA Continental Heavyweight title with the third-round KO of Gianluca Mandras.
“It was a great experience,” he remembers. “To fight at home in Sundsvall was like a dream come true. It felt like finally the moment I had been waiting for had come. It’s a very special feeling to have everyone in the arena supporting you, and now Kai will have the chance to experience that feeling too.
“If I could offer him any advice it would be to remember it’s just a normal fight. He should approach this fight like his has every other fight and try not to let the pressure of fighting at home affect him, but Kai is a smart guy so I think he will handle it well.”
This is not the first time a Swedish heavyweight has helped a Norwegian boxer prepare for an upcoming fight. Anders Eklund was a regular sparring partner for Havnaa’s father Magne, the former WBO World Cruiserweight Champion.
Kai Robin Havnaa headlines an action-packed show against Gezim Tahiri on February 3 at the SØR Amfi in Arendal, which will also feature top Norwegian boxers Tim-Robin Lihaug, Kevin Melhus, Simen Nysaether and Hadi Srour. Aron Janhnsen has been ruled out with a hand injury and Albon Pervizaj has been replaced by countryman Leon Bunn.