Otto Wallin’s showdown this Saturday with Dominic Breazeale was only announced a few days ago. But the Swedish heavyweight hope remains as focused as ever. Boxing Social caught up with him as he prepares for a fight that he hopes will raise his Stateside profile even further…
Swedish heavyweight Otto Wallin’s fascinating showdown with former two-time world title challenger Dominic Breazeale has long been rumoured, but the bout was only officially confirmed last Thursday – a mere nine days before the two boxers are due to exchange leather at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“It’s nice that the fight is finally announced and happening,” the engaging and unruffled 30-year-old from Sundsvall told Boxing Social on Monday evening.
“It’s a good challenge for me. Breazeale has a big name and he’s a solid fighter. If I beat him I think people will look at me better and it would be a pretty good win for me. I think it’s a fight that comes at the right time, it’s what I want and I’m happy about the opportunity.”
Wallin has been based in the United States since 2017, when his trainer Joey Gamache moved back to America after several years in Europe.
Wallin’s decision to follow Gamache and base himself in the US permanently has been vindicated by the rise in profile he has enjoyed since.
He is best known – of course – for his September 2019 showdown with lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, a heady and bloody night when he gave the champion a huge scare in Las Vegas.
Wallin lost via a hard-fought unanimous decision, but the result could so easily have been a TKO win in the Swede’s favour had the ringside doctor decided that the terrible cut Wallin inflicted on the Gypsy King merited stopping the contest.
It remains the sole blemish on Wallin’s 21-1 (14 KOs) career ledger and a defeat the Swede is keen to avenge one day.
For the time being, though, he is delighted to be back in action for the first time since his August 2020 win against Travis Kauffman and featuring on a high-profile card this Saturday for PBC / Showtime.
“It’s great,” he reflected. “Adrien Broner and Robert Easter are also fighting. It’s a great card and I hope a lot of people will be tuning in. This fight between me and Breazeale is a top heavyweight fight which will hopefully bring some fans in also. It’s a good chance for me to bring in some new fans.
“This is my second fight since the pandemic began which is really good, of course. I want to be busy and I haven’t been able to be too busy the last few years. Finally, now I’m somewhat busy and I’ve got a good fight here which is exactly what I need. I’m very happy about that.”
Wallin isn’t one for trash talk – he’s far too classy an individual for that – but he does give an honest appraisal of what he sees as his 35-year-old opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
“Breazeale hasn’t been that active,” Wallin pointed out. “He hasn’t fought since he lost to [Deontay] Wilder in 2019. I think that’s an advantage for me. He’s a big guy. He’s a pretty good puncher and that’s about it.
“I think I’ve got good schooling – good offense, good defence. I think I’m faster than him, I’ve got better footwork, better defense, I think I’m smarter than him. I think I’ll use all of those things to beat him.
“I think we have him down pretty good. We know that he likes to be aggressive, but he’s kind of a plodder. He comes forward but not with fast feet. He’s kind of slow. I think it’s going to work out good for me.
“Training has been going great. The gym has been able to stay open here in New York which has been a big relief. We’ve been getting great boxing and sparring. We feel ready. We’ve studied Breazeale and I think we have a good game plan. Joey’s a smart trainer. I’m ready.”
Wallin is a keen student of the heavyweight division, and as he tries to position himself for a title shot, he was happy to cast his eye over some of his potential rivals, starting with Joe Joyce and Oleksandr Usyk, who appear set to clash for the WBO interim title.
“Joyce’s style is a little different but he’s shown he’s a real threat,” Wallin assessed. “I like Joyce. He works with what he has. I think his main attribute is that he has great conditioning, he throws a lot of punches, he’s a pretty big puncher. He makes it work for himself. I think he can give a lot of guys problems.
“As for Usyk, he was a great cruiserweight. And he’s a great fighter but I’m not sure how well he’s going to do at heavyweight to be honest. This is the heavyweight division and the boxers are much bigger.
“He’s not the biggest guy out there. He fought [Dereck] Chisora and Chisora did a pretty good job out there. He didn’t do badly at all. So I’m not sure about Usyk at heavyweight although he is a very good fighter. You never know. He and Joyce fought in the amateurs. It will be an interesting fight. I think Joyce will give him a lot of problems.”
Wallin also commented on the apparently nearly signed, sealed and delivered unified title showdown between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
On this topic the Swede’s words carry particular weight as he has fought both men – as well as squaring off against Fury back in 2019, Wallin twice fought Joshua in the amateurs, and also sparred the 2012 Olympic gold medalist in the lead up to his IBF title fight against Charles Martin.
“It’s a really important fight for boxing,” Wallin emphasised. “It’s important that we have the best fighting the best for boxing to grow and in order to have a good spotlight on the sport in the world.
“It’s a fight that could draw a really big crowd – depending on the pandemic – and do really great numbers on TV as well. It’s great that it looks like it’s happening.
“I’m not so worried about Fury’s inactivity [compared to Joshua]. He’s a smart guy. He grew up fighting and has a great background. Fury is still the favourite for me. He’s a really good boxer. He’s a big guy. He’s awkward and he’s also got good momentum. I think he’s really confident in himself, in who he is and in what he has to work with
“Watching Joshua’s fight with Breazeale [from 2016] I thought he looked really good in that fight. He has a beautiful style and great tools also and he’s a bigger puncher than Fury. He’s always going to be dangerous. But I think somewhere along the way he’s lost a little bit of momentum and a little bit of confidence.
“I think that he needs to find himself and be confident in himself and use his aggressive style, throw good shots and combinations and then he’ll do well. But I do think Fury has the advantage and the initiative because I think he’s more confident in himself.”
Wallin also found time to comment on the recent erratic behaviour and bizarre pronouncements of deposed WBC title holder Deontay Wilder – a fellow PBC heavyweight who he admits he would be keen to take on in the future.
“That could be a fight for me in the future at the right time,” he confirmed, “I still think Wilder is one of the big guys and one of the best out there so that would be a great fight for me. But we don’t know what’s going on with him. He’s been so up and down lately.
“It’s kind of sad to see why he’s been saying about Mark Breland. I don’t think Breland deserved that – he was just looking out for Wilder [when he pulled him out of the second Fury fight].
“I hope Wilder starts looking at himself more rather than pointing fingers at others: he’s the one that was in the ring and has to do the business. If he’s just coming up with excuses the whole time he’s never going to get any better.”
No one could ever accuse Wallin of not striving to improve. The Swede is renowned for his work ethic and constant desire to develop. Coupled with this growth mindset, he has also already proved his ample fighting heart against Fury in that epic showdown at the T-Mobile Arena.
In a heavyweight division full of fascinating characters, the likeable Wallin remains a contender to watch, and a boxer to underestimate at your peril.