By Tom Donelson / Author, Member Boxing Writers Association of America / contributor to dmboxing.com since 2008
On Saturday, September 14, 2019 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Tyson Fury found himself in a battle of survival against Otto Wallin. Yes, Fury won the decision decisively on the scorecard but forget the scorecard, Wallin proved to be a tough competitor and not the easy tune up that Fury and pundits thought it would be. While the first round was uneventful, the second round saw Fury using his reach and right hand to keep Wallin at bay. The third round saw the dramatic moment of the fight as Wallin right hook open up a major gash over the left eye in around that Fury was winning.
The cut challenged both Fury’s corner, who had to stem the bleeding enough to keep their fighter in the bout and Fury, who now had to take his fight game to another level with the distinct possibility that the fight could be stopped. If the fight was stopped, Fury loses since this was caused by a punch. Throughout the fourth round, Wallin targeted the eye and started to connect. By the end of the fourth round, Wallin even had a slight advantage over Fury with punches connected.
The fifth round was close as both fighters connected on big shots with Fury using his height to land right hands and uppercuts but Wallin managed to bore into the body. As the sixth round, ended, this was anybody’s fight. During the sixth round, the referee stopped the fight to allow the ring doctor to examine it and Fury begged to continue. I had the fight even, but it could easily be scored in Wallin favor at the halfway mark.
Fury turned the momentum in the seventh round as he imposed his size and will through the eleventh round. Right hands followed by uppercuts started to have their impact on Wallin as his face started to swell. In the ninth and tenth round, it even appeared that Fury could end the fight as Wallin looked dazed and exhausted at times. A Fury left hand at the end of the eleventh round nearly ended the fight but Wallin survived. Fury had the fight in hand on my scorecard and only a knockout or a stoppage could win the fight for Wallin. I had it 107 to 102 going into the last round in Fury’s favor.
Wallin went for broke as he opened up the cut with a big left hand and hurt Fury. This round was similar to Fury’s fight with Wilder in which he survived a vicious knockdown to stay upright in the Wilder fight and now he was once again fighting for survival. Blood streaming from his eye, Fury was moving backward as Wallin is throwing haymakers in an effort either to knock Fury’s down or at least get the referee to stop the fight with Fury’s pawing at his bleeding eye.
Just as he did against Wilder, Fury survived against Wallin and won the fight by decision. I had the fight 116-112 as did one of the judges, the other two had it 117-111 and 118-110. This was a competitive fight but there was no doubt that Wallin lost. While it is possible to have the fight 115-113 in Fury’s favor, the judges scores were not unreasonable including 118 to 110.
Compubox showed Fury’s advantages, in particular in the seventh through eleventh round but Wallin connected on nearly double the punches than Fury’s most recent opponents including Wilder.
For a big man, Fury has good movement within the ring and usually is not an easy man to hit but Wallin was able to get inside Fury’s longer reach to do some damage to Fury, something that past opponents failed to do. Fury also showed that he is a vulnerable fighter and while he dominated the fight, this is the second fight since his comeback that he was both hurt and on the brink of losing. Fury however managed to survive, showing a toughness and championship heart.
While Wallin showed some weakness in Fury’s arsenal, Wilder may not be able to take advantage since he is a different fighter. Wilder has more power than Wallin but Wallin was able to get inside Fury, a style that Wilder is not comfortable with. Wilder prefers to use his jab to set up his massive right hand and against Fury, Wilder’s jab was neutralized. Wallin is also a southpaw and this also led to his ability to get inside and disrupt Fury’s at time.
Sometime in February, the rematch will happen with the winner most likely to take on the Ruiz-Joshua winner and by the end of the 2020, we may see a unified recognized Heavyweight champion.