By Jake Donovan
Otto Wallin wasn’t Tyson Fury’s first choice of opponent for his September 14 showcase headliner in Las Vegas, Nevada. In fact, the Swedish southpaw was barely in his Top 10 list of candidates.
He just happened to be the one who said yes.
“We offered to fight to Kubrat Pulev, Alexander Povetkin, Charles Martin, Trevor Bryan, Jarrell Miller… the list goes on and on,” Fury (28-0-1, 20KOs) noted while in attendance for an ESPN boxing telecast Saturday evening at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. “All these guys were either unable to fight or not willing.
“We got to Otto Wallin, who said “I’ll take the fight.” It’s really that simple.”
England’s Fury swooped into the Mexican Independence Day-themed slot after its usual claimant, World middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was unable to line up an opponent in time to secure the date. A hold was already placed on T-Mobile Arena by Alvarez and Golden Boy Promotions, but eventually released. Top Rank stepped in and claimed the date and venue the moment both became available.
The show’s ultimate purpose is to help expand Fury’s brand in the United States. There also comes the part where it keeps him active, something he sorely sought upon returning to the ring last June following a 31-month hiatus due to drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues which led to thoughts of suicide along with his ballooning up to 400 pounds.
“It keeps me mentally focused,” admits Fury. “One thing I know is, once I have something in the pipeline, it keeps me focused. That’s what I told Bob Arum, keep me busy. He’s done a fantastic job.”
The suggested wish is that it’s a better opponent for the unbeaten heavyweight, who plays Vegas for the second straight time following a 2nd round stoppage of Tom Schwarz in June. Then again, he can’t force his divisional peers to sign a contract or get in the ring.
“I’m not surprised because I’ll kick all of their asses,” stated Fury. “One all the way back to Bulgaria (Pulev), the other to Russia (Povetkin)—every day of the week, twice on Sunday.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox