EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: SWEDEN’S ERIK SKOGLUND ON BRINGING BOXING BACK TO SCANDANAVIA

In a division still buzzing from Kovalev/Ward, one of its top contenders has big plans for the year ahead.

Sweden’s Erik Skoglund (26-0, 12KO) has been steadily making his way up the rankings of all major governing bodies. When we spoke, he was looking ahead to a busy 2017,

“It’s important to get the right fights at this moment but I definitely see myself fighting for a world title before the end of 2017.”

Ranked #4 by the IBF and #5 by the WBO, the undefeated fighter from Nyköping has been eyeing up a different route to the top, recently focusing on the WBA rankings also.

“We’re trying to climb all the lists to make everything possible. The WBA is an interesting way at the moment as I recently became WBA international champion. It’s a tricky business though!”

Skoglund has added the WBA international title to his growing résume which includes the IBF inter-continental title, the IBO international strap and the EBU light-heavyweight crown.

The WBA world champion is Welshman Nathan Cleverly. Skoglund has fought Brits before however, beating the tough and durable Luke Blackledge over 10 rounds. With the looming rematch between Cleverly and Braehmer, the potential of Ward v Kovalev II and mandatory obligations for both, it’s clear that time is ticking. 

“It will probably take a while for the next contender to get his chance. Things are moving slow at the top with such rematch clauses.” However, a potential showdown with an American could keep Skoglund busy in the meantime, “I’d love to share the ring with Sean Monaghan. He’s a top rated undefeated fighter and I believe it would be a great fight to watch and the winner would be in a great position.”

Whilst we were on the subject of November’s mega-fight, Skoglund felt there was a decisive winner, “I think Kovalev should have won that first fight pretty confident(ly). Many rounds were close, but as a matter of fact, the Russian was the champ. I didn’t see Ward steal more then a few rounds from him.”

With a population of just over 33,000, Nyköping has played host to 3 of Skoglund’s last 4 fights. Sweden has fallen away from boxing as a sport, with MMA becoming more popular with the emergence of stars such as Alexander Gustaffson and Ilir Latifi. However, the 25 year old light-heavyweight contender is looking to bring back the days of world champions like the legendary Ingemar Johansson. 

“I think it (boxing for the world title) would mean a lot for the sport of boxing in Sweden. The sport was recently forbidden and after that it was limited to just four-round-fights, which kind of killed the sport. As new fighting sports like K1 and MMA came in a period when boxing was all gone, many fight fans still think the sport doesn’t exist in Sweden. Upon that, it’s kind of complicated to arrange professional boxing shows in Sweden with all the special rules and the fact that you have to apply for dispensation for all fights longer then twelve minutes.”

Erik Skoglund has the potential to spark life into boxing in Sweden once more. He has positioned himself well with the governing bodies and boasts a solid undefeated record. Fighting outside of Scandanavia would undoubtedly bolster his profile but Skoglund will almost definitely have the chance to realise his ambitions this year.

“I’d love to win any world title and as soon as possible defend it in Sweden. To bring a world title fight to my hometown Nyköping would mean everything to me.”

A big year awaits and we shall keep an eye on this prospect as he stakes his claim for one of the light-heavyweight divisions world championships!

Craig Scott