Jean Pierre Coopman, Red Burman Alfredo Evangelista, Tony Galento, Tex Cobb, Lucian Rodriguez, and Lorenzo Zanon. These are just some of the less than household names that fought for the old lineal title before we had alphabet belts. With Tyson Fury’s resurrection of the concept of a lineal heavyweight title, something that has been often forgotten in the era of the multiple sanctioning bodies we can now add Otto Wallin to that list.
In this article, I won’t be waxing lyrical about Tyson Fury and his amazing skills, I’ve spent enough time doing that in previous articles, today I want to look at the man who will be living his own Rocky story. In the first Rocky film, Rocky is an unknown given a shot at the title by the man who inspired Tyson’s ring walk antics, Apollo Creed. Now I want to look at this week’s Rocky, Otto Wallin like the eponymous character he is a big clumsy southpaw with a point to prove, so beyond that, we ask…
Who is Otto Wallin?
Coming from a fighting family in Sundsvall on Sweden’s east coast, his father and brothers were staples at the local boxing gym. As he was already showing his heavyweight stature playing football and at 15 he was allowed to pick up boxing. He was somewhat hit and miss as an amateur stating in an interview with ring magazine “I was 34-12 as an amateur … It wasn’t always easy to get fights as a heavyweight in Sweden, so I would fight whoever and wasn’t protected, which gave me experience and confidence going into the pros. I turned pro at 22 when my amateur career started taking off, so I never got to go to the European or World Championships.” Despite his relatively short amateur run, he did catch some eyes including that of future unified champion Anthony Joshua. He said of this “Fighting him in the amateurs was special, He was; big, powerful and I was a little smaller but we were both very raw. They were competitive fights but I lost decisions. You learn a lot from those and who could have known that he would become world champion? I had no idea about that when we fought.” in a recent interview with the BBC.
This lead to their continued acquaintance and Wallin being used as sparring for AJ in several of his pro fight camps. This will have been better experience than any of his pro fights as his record is less than stunning. His 20 and 0 record, like that of Fury’s last opponent Tom Schwarz, is deceiving. Wallin has only fought once in the United States with all of his fights happening in his native Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Germany. he has never faced an unbeaten fighter, he has never faced a ranked fighter or anyone you will have heard of. The David Gegeshidze’s and Srdan Govedarica’s of this world measure up extremely poorly with Fury’s Klitschko, Wilder, Chisora, etc. 9 of his 20 opponents have less than 10 wins in professional boxing. This paints a grim picture for the swede as he looks down the barrel of a fight with the ring magazine’s number one heavyweight.
Does he have any skills?
To decide this I have watched three of his fights, Gegeshidze, Mazikin and Kisner, in order to assess his skillset and see if he could possibly have anything with which to trouble the Gypsy king. He is always from the opening bell looking for the southpaw’s favorite weapon the straight left through the guard. He works for this by asserting lean foot dominance, placing his lead foot outside his opponent’s lead foot squaring him up and putting his left-hand shot into play. Despite his opponent’s generally being slow and cumbersome Wallin still fails to find the mark with his first few power shots. He does have more success with the same show but to the body instead of the head as the minutes’ progress. His clinch is amateurish with him making no attempts to punch inside or work out of the clinch position, he just pushes his head into his opponent’s chest, straightens his arms and waits for the referee. When he throws combinations he is inaccurate and this leads to him leaning, off-balance over his front foot, although such a flurry eventually leads to the finishing shot I ultimately see this as being Wallin’s downfall against Fury.
He does have some good features however, his southpaw jab can be very snappy and if Fury decides to play games and stick his chin out to be hit Wallin may be able to snap his head back with it. He effectively transfers his weight from a back foot heavy stance into his front foot as he jabs, giving the punch a snap that is missing from his hooks and power shots. His other main strength is his ability for a 6″6 man to get low and crowd his opponents. Unlike Tyson who never gets close and crowds Wallin can, especially against taller opponents, bend his knees duck low and smother any offense and destabilize his opponents when they try to punch. He scored a knockdown against Mazikin in exactly this way pushing him square onto the ropes and land a fight-ending body punch.
That all accounted for I personally believe that these skills will be no more of a threat to Tyson Fury than Tom Schwarz or Francesco Pianeta, he is simply overmatched in the skills department. There is nothing Otto Wallin can do that Tyson Fury cant, and there are about 100 things Tyson Fury can do that Otto Wallin has never shown an ability to do. I believe it will take less than 5 rounds for Tyson fury to stop Otto Wallin. However, there is one final consideration…
The X Factor
Mike Tyson’s loss to Buster Douglas is the greatest heavyweight upset in the history of the division, Buster himself credits only one thing for that victory, the death of his mother. They were extremely close and Buster promised his mother shortly before her death he’d win the title for her, and he did, famously breaking down at the end of the fight and talking directly to her and telling the HBO cameras “because of my mother, God bless her heart”. Otto Wallin finds himself in the same position. His father, the man who introduced him to boxing and never missed any of his fights unexpectedly died of a heart attack in May. On this Topic, Wallin told the BBC “It is on my mind, of course. It was always a dream of his to have me fight in Vegas one day. I just wish he could be there but it gives me a lot of motivation. We talked about this beforehand. He always said if something were to happen to him I should keep going and keep fighting.” This could well have a galvanizing impact on Wallin’s fighting spirit with him going on to say “My father taught me good lessons that I have to put everything in and that I will only get this chance once”
Written By Ewan Breeze Of Rebel Boxing for SimBoxx