After 13 months out of the ring, unbeaten heavyweight Gunnar Kolbeinn Kristinsson will make his return to the ring this Saturday, July 28 in Budapest, Hungary. His opponent will be Gyorgy Kutasi (4-11, 2 knockouts), a tune-up fight that he had hoped would be set for six rounds, but now looks like it’ll be capped at four.
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Kristinsson (10-0, 4 knockouts) tells The Ring. Finding fights has been difficult for the 31-year-old from Gardabaer, Iceland. He had been in talks for a fight this month in the United States that fell through, but he traveled to the Åland Islands (off the coast of Finland) to spar with Robert Helenius, who will fight Gerald Washington on July 13 in Minnesota, to stay ready.
A falling out with his management coincided with his trip to the Kronk Gym in Detroit to train last October, making it harder to stay busy, particularly given that Iceland is one of the few countries which still bans professional boxing (amateur style boxing has been legalized as of 2002).
“With no manager and no promoter getting fights [it’s] really hard, unless it’s obvious set-ups. But instead of sitting on the couch I’ve trained my ass off getting bigger, stronger and a lot better at boxing,” said Kristinsson, one of just four pros ever from Iceland, according to Boxrec, and the only male Icelandic fighter in a decade.
Though he is now essentially self-managed, Kristinsson received help from Markus Sundman, the manager of Helenius, to get this fight in Hungary. His primary trainer is Javan “Sugar” Hill, with whom he worked for five weeks between January and February, but in Iceland he stays in shape with Vilhjálmur Hernandez, Dađi Ástþórsson and Arnór Már Grímsson, the latter of whom will accompany him to Budapest to be chief second for this fight.
The lack of boxing events in Iceland means that his fights have all happened in Finland, Sweden and Denmark, but Kristinsson is hoping a win this weekend will set up bigger fights in the U.S. or in Europe.
“If I get past this guy, anything can happen and it’s always one fight at a time, never look past anyone,” said Kristinsson.
“I’d like to have my U.S. debut in the fall, and near the end of the year fight another up-and-coming prospect either in Europe or the U.S.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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