Although he remains linked to Tyson Fury, Otto Wallin (21-1-1, 14 KOs) has goals that involve much more than landing a rematch against the WBC Heavyweight champion.
“That’s [becoming a world champion] something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid,” said Wallin in an interview with Round By Round Boxing. “In Sweden, we’ve only had one Heavyweight champion, Ingemar Johansson, and that was in the 50s, so to be able to show kids back home that it’s possible to succeed and to become something is important to me.”
Born into a working-class family that had boxing ties – his late father was an amateur boxer and trainer, and his brother had a few amateur fights – Wallin, backed by the support of family and friends, got off to a hot start in his professional career, winning his first 20 fights.
Before his fight against Fury in September 2019, though, he wasn’t a known commodity in the boxing world. But because of his stellar performance – he badly cut Fury early on in the fight and had him hurt in the final round despite coming up short on the scorecards – he has become a serious player in the Heavyweight division.
The fight against Fury has become a blessing and a curse for Wallin, though. While it elevated his status in the sport, many have continued to see him just as the guy who gave the champion a tough fight. The Swede is looking to change that idea.
“Before that fight, no one had really seen me fight much, and then I had that fight that people saw, and unexpectedly, it was a good fight,” said Wallin.
“I look back at it as a great experience, and it was a good fight, but I feel like now I want to get known to actually win fights and beat good guys and not just put in good performances and lose. Then hopefully we can leave the Fury fight behind,” he added.
The 30-year-old southpaw will look to take the next step towards his ultimate goal of becoming a world champion when he returns to the ring against Dominic Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs) on Saturday in the co-main event of a PBC on SHOWTIME triple-header (9:00 pm, ET/6:00 pm, PT), live from the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.
To continue to progress, Wallin knows he needs more experience, both in the gym and in the ring.
In training, he’s led by former titleholder Joey Gamache. The two met in Denmark years ago and have since set up shop in New York, where their relationship has continued to blossom.
“Joey and me come from similar backgrounds and styles,” said Wallin of Gamache. “We both like the fundamentals, having a good jab, good body punching, good defense, and good offense. We have a lot in common there and then outside of it, we both come from working-class families, and we know how to work hard. We’ve been connecting on a lot of levels.
“We have great training, good chemistry, and we see things the same way. He’s been very important for my career.”
Aside from Gamache’s guidance, Wallin has also emphasized sparring to prepare for Breazeale, bringing in names like Adam Kownacki and Zhang Zhilei to help develop his game. All of that is fine and dandy, but the Swedish-born boxer knows that time in the ring is crucial to his career as well.
The upcoming fight against Breazeale, a former Olympian, and multi-time title challenger, represents a logical next step for Wallin, albeit one he plans to handle properly.
“I think that Breazeale is a big name,” Wallin said. “He only lost to Joshua and Wilder, and he’s a solid guy. At the same time, I think he’s somebody that if I want to get to the top, I should beat.
“His best attributes are his size and his punching power, but I do think that he’s a little slow, he’s flat-footed and not the fastest with his hands, and I think that he doesn’t have the best defense.”
At 6 foot 7 with an 81 ½ reach, Breazeale is certainly a strong and powerful fighter. He’s come up short when the lights were brightest, but he remains a tough out and has the ability to finish any opponent on any night. The physicality he brings to the table is something Wallin has taken note of.
“I think he’s gonna come out and try to be aggressive and try to bully me a little bit, so I’ve gotta be smart and use my tools,” Wallin said. “I can’t just go in there and outbox him. I have to earn some respect too, and I’ve gotta be the boss in there. I think, eventually, I’ll be able to break him down and stop him.”
A win over “Trouble” would do wonders for Wallin, as it’d put him back in title contention. Though with Fury expected to meet three-belt champion Anthony Joshua in an undisputed title fight later this year, it could be a while before Wallin gets another crack at Heavyweight gold.
That’s no problem, though. It’s experience that the 31-year-old is after, and if he has it his way, fans will see him in the ring three or four times in 2021. That would give him a chance to be active and to improve.
Then when the opportunity comes to get his hands on a title, he’ll be there ready to seize it.
“I just gotta keep working and keep having fights like this to show that I belong at the top and that I’m deserving of another shot,” Wallin said.
“I’m working very hard to become a world champion, and whoever has the belts when my next shot comes, then we’ll see,” Wallin said. “My career is much bigger than only Tyson Fury. I’m just trying to get better all the time and improve with every fight, and then when I get the next shot, I’ll be more ready.”