by Cliff Rold
Tyson Fury was supposed to win last Saturday night.
For those who recognize Fury’s claim to the historical throne of the heavyweight division, it should be counted as now five defenses of his place as champion. It didn’t come without a degree of the unexpected. Otto Wallin appeared to buzz Fury in the opening round. He cut him in the third.
To these eyes, Wallin made a case for winning four of the first six rounds. Fury, who is often so good at range and who is one of the best at getting opponents to bite on feints, wasn’t getting Wallin to bite. The challenger had a good game plan. Wallin attacked the body from the southpaw side, jabbed to the chest, and Fury was struggling to find him consistently.
Then Fury showed off the extra dimensions that make him such a tough out. When Plan A wasn’t working, when the blood kept flowing, Fury took the fight into the trenches. He worked Wallin inside for most of rounds seven through eleven. He used his body, and solid bodywork, to avoid disaster and keep his unbeaten mark.
The nasty cut will take time to heal. In that time, hopefully someone tells the ESPN announcers to stay out of the action. There was an odd moment where ESPN sounded like they were prodding that Fury’s corner be informed his cut was caused by a punch, the implication being that if the fight were stopped it would not go to the cards because the cut was not the result of a foul.
It’s unclear if that’s exactly how it played out but if it did it shouldn’t have been the case. That shouldn’t be the role of any network. It’s the job of the officials to rule the source of the cut and the corner to be cognizant of what’s going on.
In the end it didn’t matter. The cut didn’t stop the fight and best-laid plans didn’t go awry. What are those plans again?
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Fury: Fury’s cut will take time to heal. Those worried he might not be ready to go next February, the intended date of the rematch with WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, might be overreacting. Fury’s cut was likely no worse than the horrendous cut that ended Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko. Klitschko bounced back from the June 2003 loss to Lewis with a win over Kirk Johnson in December of that year. We’re looking at a similar time span here. Of course, Wilder has to defeat Luis Ortiz again if and when their rematch is finalized. Fury showed off his durability, will to win, and some versatility as well against Wallin. He also reminded he can be vulnerable. Wilder can lose every round of a fight and still win. Their rematch can’t come soon enough.
The Future for Wallin: In the preview piece for this fight, it was noted, “Wallin can win here even in defeat. Rounds with Fury will make him better in the long run and if he makes the most of his effort he’ll do more to get his name out than anything so far in the Swede’s career.” A case can be made, based on how one scored the Fury-Wilder fight, Wallin won more rounds against Fury than Wilder did. At least one of the official judges in each fight agreed they won an equal share. Wallin didn’t make the powerful statement Wilder did in scoring two knockdowns. Wallin accounted well enough anyways. He battled Fury on at least even terms in the first half of the fight and rocked Fury in the final round to close strong. Wallin entered an untested prospect. He exited as someone worth facing and trying to defeat in the future. Whether the game Swede ever again challenges for a claim to the heavyweight throne or not, his defeat to Fury elevated him. It’s up to him to make the most of it going forward.
Rold Picks 2019: 57-13
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]