Boxer Tyson Fury primed for Wallin bout, says sport needs 'lively' champs

By Alex Butler
Tyson Fury owns a 28-0-1 career record with 20 knockouts.  File Photo by James Atoa/UPI
Tyson Fury owns a 28-0-1 career record with 20 knockouts.  File Photo by James Atoa/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury says he is exactly where he is supposed to be before his bout against Sweden's Otto Wallin on Saturday in Las Vegas. He also says it's up to "lively" boxers to keep the sport popular.

The 31-year-old Englishman has experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows during his decorated boxing tenure, battling boxing bans, drug use, media criticism, depression and thoughts of suicide before his re-emergence.


But the "Gypsy King" never has been at a loss for words or personality when heading into a fight. Fury wants to wallop Wallin in his fifth bout in 15 months after a hiatus of nearly 2 1/2 years.

"Boxing fans know what's going to happen when we get in the ring," Fury told UPI. "It's going to be a fight. He's in good shape and I'm in good shape. May the best bloke win. No regrets. No hard feelings, whoever wins."


The "rejuvenated" Fury (28-0-1) says he wouldn't be in the fight if he didn't feel good going into it. He has a looming high-profile rematch against Deontay Wilder (40-0-1) set for February, but says he isn't focusing on that clash, despite many viewing the Wallin match as a primer.

State of the heavyweight

Fury said the heavyweight division is "on fire." The return of the 6-foot-9 fighter is part of the reason for that.

Andy Ruiz Jr. holds the IBO, IBF, WBA and WBO belts after beating Anthony Joshua in June. Wilder has the WBC belt. Ruiz and Joshua rematch in December.

Wallin (20-0) spars with Joshua, a common Fury critic. The 28-year-old southpaw stands at 6-foot-6. Wallin had a no-decision in an April clash with Nick Kisner.

Pre-fight news conferences are typically filled with trash talk between fighters, including Fury. But the resurgent star says that's what keeps the sport popular.

"Boxing revolves around champions, whoever the champions are of that era and time," Fury said. "If you have a lively world champion who talks a lot, then people might be more interested in him than someone who is boring."

Fury contends the sport is still shown on mainstream TV and many big fights are on national TV globally. He is part of the reason for that after signing with promoter Top Rank Boxing -- a major HBO business partner previously -- in February. He also agreed to a lucrative and exclusive series of fights with ESPN.


HBO announced it was dropping its boxing coverage in September 2018, ending a 45-year run.

Streaming service DAZN hired former ESPN president John Skipper as executive chairman before agreeing to deals for more than 50 combined boxing bouts and MMA fights in 2018. Showtime and Fox Sports also have stepped into the ring.

Fury's path

Fury defeated previously unbeaten Wladimir Klitschko in 2015 to become the heavyweight champion.

A tumultuous timeline followed. He issued apologies after being criticized for homophobic, sexist and antisemitic comments. He was stripped of his International Boxing Federation belt for failing to agree to a fight. He was suspended from fighting by the UK anti-doping agency after failing a test for a prohibited substance.

He announced he had retired from the sport in 2016, before reversing course. He battled depression and admitted to cocaine use and contemplating suicide. Fury vacated his World Boxing Association and World Boxing Organization titles in 2016.

He returned to the sport in 2018, defeating Sefer Seferi. Fury also won his next bout before a split decision against Wilder. He beat Tom Schwarz om June 15 and before training to fight Wallin. He said he trained as hard for Wallin as he did before any fight -- including Wilder --- because he doesn't want to underestimate his next foe.


"I have good offense and good defense and think I have what it takes to cause an upset," Wallin said at Wednesday's pre-fight news conference.

Coverage of Fury's bout with Wallin begins at 10 p.m. EDT Saturday on ESPN+.

"It's where I came from, where I've been and where I am today," Fury said. "I suppose where I am is exactly where I'm supposed to be.

"I believe everyone has their own path in their own lives. They have to walk that road. It might be a lonely road sometimes, but the end game is what we are looking for. The end road."

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