By: Sean Crose
“Fury is not your normal type of fighter or heavyweight,” says undefeated 20-0 heavyweight Otto Wallin. “He’s a big guy and knows how to use that to his advantage and he does it well.” Wallin is referring to the 28-0-1 Tyson Fury, who is considered to the be lineal heavyweight champion of the world, and who will be fighting Wallin on September 14th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s the chance of a lifetime for Wallin, a 28 year old native of Sundsvall, Sweden, one the fighter clearly intends to make the most of.
“My training base is in New York,” he says, “where I live and we’ll be doing the training over here until one week before the fight.” Some fighters like to travel in order to train for major matches. The 6’5 plus Wallin is happy where he is. “We’ve got a nice private gym,” he says, “and we have all we need.” This will be Wallin’s second fight in the United States. His first was an ill-fated match against Nick Kisner last April in Atlantic City, a bout that was declared a no contest due to an accidental head butt. Wallin will be preparing for more than just potential head butts in the leadup to Fury, however.
For Fury is a unique case. Not only is he extremely large and slick, the Englishman is also a master of head games. Watch Fury’s interactions with then longtime heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko back in 2015 before he bested the Ukrainian legend in a huge upset. Fury’s interactions with Klitschko were in a master class of bullying and mind games. It’s a tactic Wallin feels well prepared for. “He’s probably looking to get inside of my head like he usually does,” says Wallin, “I’ll just laugh it off and be myself at all times. I’ve got a good team around me that will keep me on the right track.”
Should he win the lineal title off Fury, Wallin will be seen as the first heavyweight champion from Sweden since Ingemar Johansson, who won the crown from Floyd Patterson in the late 1950s. I asked Wallin (we conducted the interview via email) if he felt any pressure being a Swedish fighter with an opportunity to do what what the famous Johansson did. “I don’t feel any pressure at all,” he replied. “What Ingemar Johansson did is just a huge inspiration and he already showed that it’s possible and that it can be done!”
Coming hot on the heels of Andy Ruiz’ stunning victory over Anthony Joshua last June, Wallin will face Fury with the whiff of upsets in the air. There is also a suspicion that Fury is already overlooking Wallin while planning to have a rematch of his terrific bout last December against Deontay Wilder. Wallin, however, isn’t one too make too much of such conjecture. “I have no idea what’s in Fury’s head,” he says, “but surely he has not much to win and everything to lose in this fight and that’s great for me. He probably feels a ton of pressure and knows that he needs to look good in this fight.”
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