By David Robinett at ringside
Photos: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
In a bloody grinder of a fight at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the “Gypsy King” Tyson Fury retained his claim to the lineal heavyweight title, surviving a spirited challenge from previously undefeated contender Otto Wallin with a unanimous decision win by scores of 116-112, 117-111, and a too wide 118-110.
Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs), who at 254.5 pounds was the lightest he has been in the ring since defeating Vladimir Klitschko in 2015, was not as sharp as his effort in June against Tom Schwarz, spending much of the early rounds flicking an ineffective jab and missing Wallin more than he was connecting with his typical unorthodox, jittery style. Wallin (20-1, 13 KOs) was game, unafraid to take the fight to the champion, but he also struggled finding a way past Fury’s arms and shoulders to connect cleanly with consistency.
A Wallin punch opened a cut over Fury’s right eye in round three, and as the cut opened up and grew progressively worse in the next few rounds, the complexion of the fight changed dramatically, as both Fury and Wallin fought with more urgency under the specter of a doctor’s stoppage, the steady flow of blood turning Fury’s white trunks a dull pink. Round seven featured good two-way action, with a Fury straight right hand sending Wallin bouncing back against the ropes. In rounds nine through eleven, Fury’s superior skills and strength started to wear Wallin down, with Fury landing most of the heavy shots and putting Wallin on the verge of going down several times.
Instead of a late knockout though, Wallin turned the tables on Fury in the round twelve, hurting the champion with a series of punches and forcing Fury to alternate holding and keeping out of range to survive the round. In the end, Fury earned the well-deserved victory, and Wallin likely staked himself a perch among the other top heavyweight contenders.