(Independent) – It was a winter morning in Nykoping, bright blue and bitterly cold like any other. Thick sheets of ice guarded the entrance to the boxing gym, from where the thud of punches ricocheted off the walls.
Inside the ring, Erik Skoglund, Sweden’s best boxer, ignored his intuition, bit down on his gumshield, and absorbed blow after blow.
Two months earlier, he had suffered the first loss of his professional career, a narrow points decision to home favourite Callum Smith in Liverpool. With another bout in England fast approaching, this time he felt he had no option but to train his body and mind for a knockout; “a battle”.
The sparring sessions had been brutal. Contenders were flown in from across the world on a weekly basis and ordered to throw caution to the wind. Skoglund could feel the wear and tear, but was convinced the pain sacrificed then would immunise him later. CONTINUE