Otto Wallin has repeatedly said he doesn’t care about the criticism he receives ahead of his fight with Tyson Fury. Many believe the Swede unworthy of facing a boxer of Fury’s ilk, especially given that Wallin is yet to fight outside of Europe, with most of his bouts taking place in his home of Scandinavia.
Few who bet on Tyson Fury vs Otto Wallin will be backing the Swedish southpaw, but then many of boxing’s most memorable heavyweight upsets have come as a result of match-ups such as these, and if the underdog is to have any chance against Fury he must draw inspiration from those who have defeated more fancied opponents in the past.
Andy Ruiz Jr’s recent shock victory over Anthony Joshua is a prime example, as the American taught the Englishman that complacency has no place in heavyweight boxing, knocking Joshua to the ground several times before securing a win by TKO.
It’s hard to see Fury falling into the same trap, but the ‘Gypsy King’ is expected to beat Wallin easily and such assumptions can breed complacency, even subconsciously. Joshua’s defeat is a cautionary tale to both Fury and Deontay Wilder, and Wallin might have a chance if he can capitalize on that seed of doubt that may well be lingering in the mind of Fury after seeing what Ruiz did to Joshua.
Fury goes into this bout with an undefeated record, having won 28 and drawn 1 of his 29 professional fights, but an unbeaten record does not rule out the possibility of an upset. Mike Tyson famously found that out in Tokyo in 1990, as 42-1 outsider Buster Douglas sent him packing.
It’s certainly true that Fury carries a certain aura, much as Mike Tyson himself did. For Wallin, it will be important to forget the hype surrounding his opponent, and to view Fury only as his opponent rather than one of world boxing’s most famous personalities. After all, an undefeated record means nothing once the bell rings. Wallin too is undefeated in his professional career, and that winning mentality could be key if he is to pull off an unlikely upset.
Fury’s size is another challenge facing the Swede. At 6’6”, Wallin stands three inches shorter than Fury and as such has a shorter reach. Many of Fury’s past opponents have shrunk when faced with the sheer size and imposing figure of their opponent, but size is not the defining factor in heavyweight boxing.
David Haye can attest to that fact after his victory over the gargantuan Nikolai Valuev in 2009. That fight was billed as David vs Goliath; Valuev standing at 7-foot tall, dwarfing the relatively puny 6’3” Haye. But the Englishman ultimately ran rings around his enormous opponent, recording a famous victory to snatch the heavyweight title from the Russian.
While Wallin could not be described as a nimble fighter like Haye, few of Fury’s opponents are yet to try and use his size against him. Perhaps one tactic for the Swede could be to tire his opponent out, but up against a Tyson Fury who is only getting fitter and fitter with every passing fight since his return, that would be a great challenge.
Usually, favorites are favorites for a good reason, and it is hard to see Fury being bested by the relatively unknown Swede. However, the past tells us that nothing is a sure thing in boxing, or sport in general. Wallin is right to disregard the criticism and disrespect. When fight night rolls around, all the talking will stop. The Swede must treat this bout as just another fight, punch or be punched. If he can pull off the spectacular and defeat Fury, it will be another testament to sport’s glorious unpredictability.