“I don’t know much about him. I know he’s from Sweden, I know he’s 28 years old, and he’s a 6’5” southpaw. 16 and a half to 17 stone, he’s got a good jab, was an International amateur boxer and turned pro in about 2013,” Tyson Fury told BT Sport’s No Filter interviewer, overlooking his training camp in the sunny surroundings of Marbella, Spain.
It’s about all anyone can truly surmise regarding the career of Tyson Fury’s next opponent: Otto Wallin. The heavyweight ranked No. 4 with the WBA is tasked with becoming the ‘Gypsy King’s’ next dance partner under his newly formed Top Rank partnership in the States – a move that has so far acted as a precursor for a rematch with Deontay Wilder in early 2020.
Wallin is expected to be nothing more than that – a dance partner. Fury is continuing to drink from a patient glass of goodwill from the boxing public, having filled said glass to the brim, after taking the Wilder fight so soon after his return to the ring. Our patience – for now – is validated when looking back at last December’s mesmeric night in Los Angeles.
That WBC heavyweight title fight – ending in a controversial split decision draw – inside the Staples Center now acts as the meat in the middle of an underwhelming sandwich that Fury has concocted since his remarkable return from the abyss. The bread either side has been infused with Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta on the base; Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin on top.
It’s a testament to the talent of Tyson Fury that, as fans, we want to see him in with the best. Despite an understanding of the need to build Fury’s profile in the United States with a softly, softly approach, we pine for the ‘lineal heavyweight champion’ to climb a steeper ladder back to the heavyweight summit.
Fury’s trainer, Ben Davison, has been candid in his explanation of how we have ended up with Otto Wallin as Tyson Fury’s 29th professional opponent.
“There were names being chucked about, offers going about,” Davison said in front of the BT Sport cameras. “It was very difficult because you’ve got three separate [promotional outlets], you’ve got Al Haymon – PBC, TopRank, DAZN – with Joshua and they all want to keep their heavyweights for who they’ve got [in mind].”
“I know Pulev has a situation with the IBF mandatory, so he didn’t want to take the fight, and an offer got put to Alexander Povetkin, but he took the Hughie fight. Tyson said that he wanted Big Baby Miller, but he wasn’t going to get his license in time.”
“Trevor Bryan, who is signed to fight Manuel Charr; Adam Kownacki who is with PBC; Joshua and Ruiz are having their rematch; Luis Ortiz and Deontay Wilder, so it was difficult.”
The frustration that Team Fury have found in sourcing a credible opponent is apparent. Tasked with specific criteria limited their options even further – a tall, English speaking, ranked, and preferably unbeaten foe provided a lot of boxes to be ticked ahead of their pencilled in September date.
To further Davison’s point, a glance at the ranked heavyweights across the four governing bodies allows few alternatives to that of the big Swedish southpaw. The first major stumbling block arrives when analysing the plethora of heavyweights Eddie Hearn has under his Matchroom/DAZN banner. Michael Hunter, Filip Hrgovic and Joseph Parker – all tied up with fights within the next couple of months, and all out of reach for a potential cross-promotional contest with Fury. Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev are yet to dip their toe in the heavyweight pond and are far from being matched with the ‘Gypsy King’ at this stage of their careers.
Dereck Chisora for a third time? A renewed rivalry with old foe David Price? A recently beaten Oscar Rivas? A 3-3 in six fights Carlos Takam? A barrel-scraping exercise of unlikely opponents when considering the importance of growing the Fury brand across the pond.
WBO ranked Tyrone Spong and Junior Fa were, presumably, shortlisted along with Evgenyi Romanov in the head-scratching realm of Francisco Varcarcel’s organisation. Wallin is – as painful as it is to write – the best of a limited bunch.
“No one likes southpaws, especially unbeaten in 20 fights. Young and ambitious, strong, healthy and in the prime of his life,” Tyson elucidated in his quest to elevate the perception of his 28-year-old opponent. “One thing that I will say: he can f***ing fight,” Ben Davison added, with time running out to sell Wallin as the opponent for inside the T-Mobile Arena on September 14.
It’ll have to do for now. Boxing is forever about timing – patience and compromise have become fandom fundamentals. Otto Wallin is far from the ideal choice to step into the ring with Tyson Fury next, however, all will be forgiven, all will be forgotten if Fury vs. Wilder II lands next.