Posted on 10/24/2021
by John “Gutterdandy” Walker
Leave it to the sport of boxing to find a way to waste any momentum it has accumulated with the sporting public.
In the wake of two excellent heavyweight title clashes recently — Oleksander Usyk’s dominant unanimous decision win over Anthony Joshua, and Tyson Fury’s obliteration of Deontay Wilder — boxing fans were eagerly looking forward to the next scheduled high-level installment from the glamor division between top ranked Dillian Whyte of the UK and Otto Wallin of Sweden.
Three great fights in a row, it seems, was too much to ask.
Wallin (22-1-0, 14 KOs) is the heavyweight who arguably gave Fury his toughest overall fight to date (Wilder actually only troubled the Gypsy King for a few select rounds over three fights).
During their clash, the 6’6″ tall Swede used his slick counterpunching abilities to confound Fury at times, inflicting two large gashes on the Brit’s face, one above his left eye courtesy of a wicked left hook. That cut was severe enough that the fight could have been waved off, but Fury gutted his way through to a UD win that nevertheless saw Wallin rocking him hard with big shots as the fight came to a close.
Though he lost to Fury, Otto Wallin had arrived at the top end of the heavyweight division.
Since that fight, Wallin has gone from strength to strength, and looked primed to provide Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs), who has been awaiting a title shot for what seems like forever, with some very stiff competition for their bout scheduled for October 30 in the UK.
But now, the fight has been cancelled amidst questionable circumstances, and Wallin has been left heartbroken and angry.
Wallin was getting ready to depart for the UK when he was informed via email that Whyte had injured his shoulder and the fight was cancelled. No supporting documentation was provided to the Wallin camp by Whyte’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing. Further queries have gone unanswered.
The sketchy details surrounding the cancellation have set Wallin and his camp on edge: a shot at WBC world heavyweight champ Tyson Fury awaits the winner of Wallin vs Whyte.
At a recent presser called to make their case, Wallin and his manager Dmitry Salita fumed about the situation. “I’ve been training very hard, and had my mind put into this,” lamented a downcast Wallin.
“Just the simple fact that I haven’t seen my family [in Sweden] in two years … I’ve been staying here [in the USA], training, to make sure I’ll be ready when this big opportunity comes. I was gonna go fight, win this fight, and then go back to Sweden to see everybody. It’s tough when you haven’t seen your mom in two years (Wallin’s father passed away before he fought Tyson Fury in 2019).”
Not helping matters is the fact that Whyte had publicly mused recently about skipping the tough Wallin challenge altogether and waiting for Fury to offer him a lucrative title bout in their native United Kingdom.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking at [future fights],” Whyte said. “I am definitely looking at fighting Fury and Wallin is a dangerous operator – he pushed Fury all the way.”
Those remarks seem more ominous now, in light of the last-minute cancellation of the fight. The suspicion is that Whyte simply decided to pull the plug and wait for Fury to come calling for a lucrative, all-UK showdown. Wallin is left with a lot of hard preparation that at the moment seems like it was for nothing.
“This is such a big opportunity,” said an agitated Dmitry Salida, Wallin’s manager. “[Wallin] put so much on the line. It’s so important that the right thing happens here.”
“Injuries happen in boxing,” Salida continued. “But there’s just so many circumstances in this particular situation that makes it so unsettling … all we want is the truth. That’s all we want.”
The right thing, according to Wallin and Salida, is a rescheduling of the bout. Faced with a lack of communication from Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing, the Wallin camp are appealing to the British Boxing Board of Control and the WBC to seek a remedy to the now fraught situation.
One thing the Wallin camp isn’t interested in, however, is an offer from Croatian heavyweight Alen “The Savage” Babic, who Whyte promotes, to take his boss’s place. Matchroom head honcho Hearn has since pushed for Wallin to take on “The Savage” instead of Whyte, but Salida scoffed at the suggestion.
“Otto Wallin is a world class fighter,” Salida said. “[Babic] is irrelevant. It’s just branding for whoever that person is. I’ve never heard of this guy before (Babic was scheduled to appear on the undercard of Wallin vs Whyte).”
The Wallin camp remain fearful that Whyte will be allowed to bypass the Swede altogether and proceed straight to a title fight with Tyson Fury. Salida feels Whyte has been spooked by many boxing scribes and promoters predicting a Wallin win against the Brit.
“I am a man of my word,” said Wallin. “We have a contract signed and we are supposed to fight. And I will honor that. I am very serious when it comes to contracts and giving my word on something.”
“The redo should happen” Salida added, “but we want to see proof [of Whyte’s injury]. That’s all we want. We want to see the truth, all we want is fairness.”
“And if the right thing doesn’t happen, it will be so detrimental to our sport.”