By David Greisman
Tyson Fury Defends Championship Against Wallin in Bloody, Gritty Fashion
Twice now Tyson Fury has been badly hurt, desperately needing to respond and recover in order to avoid defeat. As with last December against Deontay Wilder, Fury once again rose to the occasion.
Fury literally rose against Wilder, dramatically getting up from a huge last-round knockdown, beating the count by a split-second and leaving with a draw in a fight some believe he deserved to win. There were no knockdowns against Otto Wallin this past Saturday, but Fury’s circumstances were somehow both better and worse.
Fury suffered a severe cut in the third round against Wallin, a deep gash on his right eyebrow with the blood potentially getting in his eye and the wound possibly only going to get wider and deeper as the night went on.
Fury ultimately took control of the bout, dominating the back half of the fight with heavy blows and mauling action. But the cut had been caused by a punch. That meant that the fighter who was winning was merely one ringside physician’s decision away from losing.
That moment never came. Fury’s cutman did as good a job as he could to control the bleeding, though crimson continued to pour onto Fury’s chest and gloves, onto Wallin’s back, and stained the referee’s shirt. Fury told the ringside physician that he could still see fine — and his performance seemed to prove that right — as the blood streamed down and around his right eye rather than into it.
And so Fury dug down and left with a clear unanimous decision, defending his heavyweight championship and preserving a rematch with Wilder for sometime this winter, depending on the severity of the cut.
The opening rounds were slower, giving no indication of what was to come. Fury is a capable boxer, particularly mobile and elusive for someone standing 6-foot-9. Wallin didn’t land much of note in the first two rounds. Fury, meanwhile, scored with two shots toward the end of Round 2, and he landed a right hand counter just before the bell, pleased enough by that punch that he jogged back to his corner.
If he thought things were going well, then they suddenly got worse.
Fury couldn’t avoid everything. And all it takes is one perfectly placed punch to change a fight.
In this case, it was a left hook to the eyebrow in Round 3. Fury wasn’t buzzed, but he was bothered. Wallin didn’t have Wilder’s power. Power isn’t the only way to hurt your opponent. Power can shake a man to his bones and test his heart. Flesh is fragile, however. You can have the solidest of chins, only for your skin to do you in.
Fury began to paw at the cut throughout the third. It bothered Fury for a few rounds, all while he and his team were under the mistaken impression that the cut had been caused by a head butt. Were that the case, then a stoppage due to the cut would send the fight to the scorecards. Nevada’s athletic commission uses replay, though, and they determined that Wallin’s hook was the culprit.
Now Fury needed to do more than just win rounds. He needed to dominate, to make sure there was no reason to consider stopping the fight.
Fury regained his composure in Round 6, boxing well and landing. With a minute left, the referee looked at Fury and brought the big man over to the doctor.
“I can see,” Fury insisted. “Let’s go.”
Fury landed, but he also leaned his considerable body mass on Wallin, both to tie him up and to tire him out. Wallin also had his own dirty tactics, using his glove to rake the wound toward the end of Round 6.
Fury complained, but he also took matters into his own hands. He pressed forward, pressuring Wallin, exhausting a boxer who had only fought eight rounds or more three times in his career. He dug to the body and pounded away at the head. He draped himself over Wallin in the middle of the ring and leaned on him when against the ropes.
Wallin’s output had never been voluminous. He’d maxed out with 42 attempted punches in Round 2 but otherwise averaged just 28 shots thrown per round, according to CompuBox. Wallin was accurate with his power shots — he landed about half of what he threw — but he didn’t do that anywhere near enough. Fury kept that from happening by switching up his style, winning round after round by throwing more, by landing cleaner and harder, by being an imposing physical presence.
He was on his way to victory. Things were truly going well. And again, they got worse.
Early in Round 12, Fury sent out a one-two, and Wallin responded with a flush left hand. Fury backed into the corner, nodding to acknowledge the blow and then tying up to show just how much it had hurt him.
It was by far Wallin’s best round. He was credited with landing 23 of 37 punches, and he was 16 of 21 with power shots, an exceptional 76 percent connect rate, landing as many in that round than he had combined in rounds nine through 11.
Fury wasn’t reeling, though, and he made it to the final bell. Wallin had injured Fury early and hurt him late. Fury had done more than enough in-between — the judges saw it 118-110 (10 rounds to two), 117-111 (nine rounds to three) and 116-112 (eight rounds to four).
Fury improves to 29-0-1 with 20 knockouts. He remains the lineal heavyweight champion — the man who beat the man (Wladimir Klitschko) — though he no longer has the belts he won from that fight, thanks to an extended layoff and positive drug tests.
There are other claimants to the heavyweight throne, including Wilder and Andy Ruiz, who shocked Anthony Joshua earlier this year for three of the four major world title belts. Fury and Wilder have agreed on a rematch, though we’ll need to find out whether Fury will need more time off to let that bad cut fully recover.
Wallin is now 20-1 with 13 KOs. This will be a learning experience for him, one that he may get to use against the second and third tiers of big men in the future. How he performs in those fights will dictate whether he gets another chance at scoring a big upset.
Devin Haney Stops Abdullaev, Calls Out Vasiliy Lomachenko
Devin Haney is young, and yet he is experienced. He is untested against top opposition, and yet he is talented. He is calling out the best fighter in the 135-pound division — and one of the best boxers in the entire world — and yet he cannot be faulted for wanting the challenge.
Haney, who moved to 23-0 with 15 knockouts after battering Zaur Abdullaev into submission on Friday night, is now the mandatory contender for one of the three world titles held by Vasiliy Lomachenko.
“He doesn’t want to fight me,” Haney said in a post-fight interview. “I feel like I’m ready for the fight.”
Haney emerged unscathed from the Abdullaev fight, dominating nearly every moment of the four rounds of action. Though he is just 20 years old, turning 21 this November, he is composed in the ring, confident in his abilities and his preparation.
After all, Haney turned pro nearly four years ago, as a 17-year-old who traveled from the United States to Mexico in order to get professional experience rather than remain in the amateur ranks. He’s further improved by sparring with excellent fighters: Floyd Mayweather, Gervonta Davis and Shakur Stevenson, just to name a few.
Given that — and given everything else about Haney — there was nothing Abdullaev could do to cause him trouble.
Haney took his time in the first round but didn’t take the round off. Instead, he looked for openings to flash his considerable hand speed, dishing out a right hand counter here, a jab there, a looping right hand around Abdullaev’s guard, or two jabs followed by a right hand. Abdullaev continued to stalk but just couldn’t get his offense out. Haney almost always beat him to the punch, disrupting his rhythm with stiff jabs strong enough and timed well enough to push Abdullaev back.
Haney was comfortable after that first round and decided to use the second round to practice some techniques on defense. He made Abdullaev miss with ease. And he landed when he wanted.
The frustration began to build in Abdullaev, who decided to throw two shots as the referee was breaking the fighters in Round 3. Haney took it in stride and continued to pound away to Abdullaev’s body, further damaging him, further demoralizing him.
By Round 4, blood was coming from Abdullaev’s nose. He went back to his corner dejected and possibly injured as well. Abdullaev was previously undefeated as a pro. For the first time, he was in against someone much better than him — and there was nothing he could do to improve his chances. The fight was over. Abdullaev is now 11-1 with 7 KOs.
This was Haney’s third win of 2019. The fight was for some silly trinket — the WBC’s “interim” world title — but more importantly for a shot at Lomachenko, a brilliantly talented three-division titleholder.
“Abdullaev was the number two mandatory. I went in there. I destroyed him. He was no contest for me,” Haney said. “If I’m so easy, [Lomachenko] should just fight me and get me out of the way.”
Haney plans to stay busy if the Lomachenko fight doesn’t come immediately. Lomachenko, after all, may instead prefer to face the winner of a title fight between Richard Commey and Teofimo Lopez. That would give Lomachenko an opportunity to have all four world titles to his name.
And so Haney is eyeing a slot on November 9, when internet personalities KSI and Logan Paul will have a rematch of their bout from last year. There will be a different set of eyes watching that fight, not necessarily typical boxing fans. And while very few may stick around and watch boxing regularly because of KSI vs. Logan Paul, Haney believes he can stand out and build up a following.
Amanda Serrano Too Much For Heather Hardy in Battle of Brooklyn
Heather Hardy is good and tough. That wasn’t enough for her to beat Amanda Serrano. Hardy was tough enough to survive 10 rounds — and a particularly rough opening round — but she wasn’t good enough to come out with the victory.
Serrano pummeled Heather Hardy for much of the opening two minutes, then cruised to a unanimous decision, capturing Hardy’s featherweight world title in the process.
The two fighters had sparred years ago, so Hardy was already well aware of Serrano’s power. Hardy respected it, backing up in the early moments, and then relying on her workrate to try to make a dent in Serrano. Unfortunately, that meant Hardy was often in range for Serrano’s shots to land. And when Serrano’s shots landed, they had an effect.
Hardy reeled early. Serrano kept punching, catching and rocking Hardy. The referee stood nearby, watching closely, and the fight reasonably could’ve been stopped. The ref actually ended the round a couple seconds early, mistakenly jumping in before the bell rang.
Hardy had survived the round. Serrano kept trying to batter the resistance out of her opponent, targeting the body with hard shots in Round 2. Hardy tried to fight back, but there just wasn’t enough pop on her punches to keep Serrano away. Yet Hardy found some success in the fourth and fifth, coming forward and making Serrano fight in reverse.
It wasn’t enough to change the nature of the fight. Serrano continued to throw more, land far more often, and land with much more impact. The judges recognized that, awarding Serrano the clear decision, with one judge seeing it 98-92 (eight rounds to two) and the others seeing it 98-91, giving Serrano a 10-8 score for the dominant first round, even without a knockdown being scored.
“She’s as tough as they come. She wasn’t just going to let me take that belt easily,” Serrano said afterward. “She came to fight. But I was just the better girl tonight. There’s levels to boxing. She’s just not on my level yet.”
Serrano is now 37-1-1 with 27 KOs. She’s won 23 in a row since suffering her only loss to Frida Wallberg back in 2012. Serrano’s stayed incredibly active, moving up and down from one weight class to another, capturing world title after world title. While many of those belts were vacant, not held by the top fighters in that division, those victories have nonetheless provided a good showcase for Serrano’s abilities.
She’d of course prefer a bigger challenge and the commensurate payday. Hardy was a titleholder at 126, previously undefeated, and their fight was the co-feature bout in a DAZN broadcast.
There’s a far bigger option available, in both senses of the word: Katie Taylor, the undisputed champ of the 135-pound division. Taylor, who won gold in the 2012 Olympics, is coming off a close victory over Delfine Persoon and may end up moving up to the 140-pound division.
“Let’s see what she wants to do,” Serrano said. “No matter where it’s at, at what weight, I’m going to win.”
Hardy is now 22-1 with 4 KOs. She’s 37, likely on the tail end of a career where she never got the kind of attention that is finally beginning to come to women’s boxing. Like others, Hardy even tried out mixed martial arts, going 2-2 and getting knocked out twice.
“Amanda was just better, knew that going in,” Hardy posted on Instagram. “But….risk over regret.”