A tuneup bout turned into a bloody battle for Tyson Fury on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Heavy underdog Otto Wallin opened up a deep gash over Fury's right eye in the third round, forcing the lineal heavyweight champion to carefully box his way to a unanimous-decision win.
Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole provided the cards:
Despite the cut, Fury dominated the second half of the fight, but he nearly gave it all away when Wallin landed a power shot that visibly stunned the favorite. Fury was able to hold on for the win, but it was far from easy.
Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and boxing writer Daniel Roberts reacted to the dramatic fight:
Fury has now done his part to set up a highly anticipated rematch with Deontay Wilder, reportedly set for early 2020. Wilder, the WBC world heavyweight champion, can lock in the megafight if he defeats the dangerous Luis Ortiz on Nov. 23. Fury and the Bronze Bomber fought to a controversial split-decision draw in December 2018. If Saturday's fight is any indication, Wilder can't take Ortiz lightly; anything can happen in the ring.
The bout started slowly, with Fury looking to use his seven-inch reach advantage to keep Wallin at bay. The 28-year-old showed no fear, darting inside and throwing quick combinations. The challenger drew blood in the third round with a thudding left-handed hook in the corner that opened up a deep gash over Fury's right eyebrow.
Welterweight champion Bud Crawford saw the punch land from the stands:
Ring's Ryan Songalia noted that because the gash came from a punch, it put Fury at risk of losing if referee Tony Weeks or the ringside physician called for a stoppage:
Fury had to fight a battle on two fronts: He not only needed to win rounds against Wallin but also keep the wound on his forehead from bleeding too profusely.
At the end of the sixth round, Wallin could be seen trying to rake open Fury's cut with his thumb. The Athletic's Mike Coppinger felt the move was worth of a pro wrestling villain:
The dirty maneuver lit a fire under Fury, who put together an excellent seventh round. He landed some cracking shots with his right hand, splitting his attack between the body and the head. Aided by some big gobs of petroleum jelly on his forehead, Fury was able to showcase his diverse skill set while keeping the cut from becoming too much of a problem (though one could argue a less established fighter would have been forced to take the loss).
By the ninth round, Fury had established full control over Wallin, who looked like he was out of gas. A power punch wobbled the Swede at the end of the ninth. Fury pressed the advantage in the 10th, backing Wallin up to the ropes and swinging away with his tree-trunk arms.
To Wallin's credit, he held in long enough to give Fury one final scare with a big punch in the last round. It wasn't enough, but the unknown challenger made a name for himself and could be in line for another shot at a big-name heavyweight.
Fury's claims to the lineal heavyweight title help to bolster his image as one of the sport's best fighters, but four of the five boxers he's faced since defeating then-undisputed champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 have been underwhelming journeymen. Fury needs a win over Wilder, the most dangerous puncher in the sport, in 2020 if he wants to truly establish himself as one of the greatest of his era.