Otto Wallin is hoping victory over Dillian Whyte later this year is a springboard to world title fights.
The New York-based Swede gave Tyson Fury a tough time over 12 rounds back in 2019 in Las Vegas and he meets Whyte in London’s O2 Arena on October 30.
“It’s what I wanted and I’m thankful that I got it,” said the 22-1 (14) southpaw, who has wins over Travis Kauffman and Dominic Breazeale in his last two bouts. “I was expecting to fight in July and then it just kept getting pushed back and this and that, then this fight came and it was perfect timing.”
Whyte starts as favorite. He gained revenge over former champion Alexander Povetkin earlier this year and has been waiting for his WBC title shot for years. Instead of sitting on his mandatory spot and fighting soft contenders, he’s had a number of hard fights and now Wallin believes is the time to capitalize on Whyte’s higher mileage.
“He’s kind of a brawler but he can box a little bit too,” said Wallin. “He’s got a good left hook and he’s a good body puncher so those are things I’ve got to be aware of. [But] I think that in the long run it takes a toll to have hard fights like that. He’s been knocked out twice and he’s taken a lot of punishment and he’s been hurt in different fights. At the same time, he wants to fight for the title – he almost should have had a shot at the WBC title already but you’ve got to be smart in boxing and it is a sport where you take damage.”
Wallin is referring to the stoppage losses to Anthony Joshua and Povetkin and the hard battles with the likes of Dereck Chisora and Joseph Parker.
“I think he’s a good fighter, he’s highly ranked,” he continued, assessing Whyte. “He’s been in a lot of tough fights and honestly I think he’s been aging a little bit lately. He’s been in many wars and he’s a good fighter but I think I’m better. I’ve got a lot of tools to work with, I’m intelligent and I’m fresh, so I think that’s to my advantage.”
Wallin’s also looking forward to another big night. The Fury fight not only gave him a taste of the bright lights but it’s given him the confidence that he’s a top-level heavyweight who will be a problem for anyone.
“Yes, for sure,” Otto admitted. “There were a lot of questions before that and I got a lot of answers so it was really good. I know I can perform on a high level and I’ve had a couple of fights after that and I feel like I’m getting better all the time. I feel like I’m learning with every fight, so I think this fight is coming at a good time. I think even from the Breazeale fight I’m aware of a lot of things I can do better. I’m in a good spot right now.”
He’s with trainer Joey Gamache, the former lightweight champ, and they have formed a close relationship over several years.
Gamache has the tall Swede moving his head more, he explains why Wallin should and should not do certain things in the ring and he calls Gamache “a nice person” and “someone you can talk to.”
“We met in 2013 when we were training in Denmark,” recalled Wallin. “We were there for about four years and we’ve been in New York now for the last four years and it’s going great. He’s been very important for my career and without him I don’t think I would be here. I remember when I first met him there were just things that I agreed on. I’d been to Germany before, when I first turned pro I had two fights over there, and there was something with Joey I just agreed with. I’d watched a lot of boxing growing up and then when I went to Germany, we [his former coaches] didn’t really get along on the style but when I met Joey it clicked between us. If he tries to teach you something he can explain it and show you what’s been working in different fights and I think that’s very important, to have someone who can explain why we work on something rather than just say, ‘Hey, you’ve got do this.’”
Wallin has fought in the UK as an amateur before and he’s also visited to spar Anthony Joshua, too.
He will be watching next week when Joshua defends his heavyweight titles against Oleksandr Usyk.
“I think it will be a good fight,” he added. “I think Usyk is a great cruiserweight, he hasn’t been that good as a heavyweight. I think it’s definitely going to be a good fight but I feel Joshua is going to win a decision.”
Then the focus of the heavyweight division will go back to Fury, who meets Deontay Wilder in October, before the headlines will go to Whyte and himself.
“I’m excited about it,” Wallin went on. “I think the UK fans are really good so I’m expecting a nice night of boxing with the UK fans and hopefully a lot of Swedes also. I’ve never been to the O2. I went to a Kell Brook fight in Sheffield and that was great and I’m expecting even more now and it’s going to be electric. I’ve been getting a lot of respect from the UK fans since the Fury fight so hopefully some of them will root for me as well but I’ll have a lot of fans coming over so that will be good.”
Is he worried about getting a fair shake in the UK? He’s trying to focus on the things he can control – like the fight – rather than the things he cannot.
“I feel like I can’t think too much about it,” Wallin explained. “I’ve got to go in there and do my best and I am from Sweden so it’s not very far [from the UK]! We’re going to have a Swedish judge so I try not to think about it too much. I know with the Fury fight there was some controversy with the cuts, that’s boxing, but hopefully I’ll get a fair shake and I’ll just focus on what I can do in the ring.”
If he gets by Whyte he’s not necessarily motivated by a revenge fight with Fury, he wants to fight for a heavyweight championship.
“It’s more about the belts to me,” he concluded. “I don’t have anything against Fury. I would love to have a rematch but it’s more about the belts. That’s what I’m going for.”