LAS VEGAS - As the blood poured down lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury's face after he suffered a terrible cut over his right eye in the third round, suddenly the heretofore unknown Otto Wallin appeared as though he might be on the brink of a massive upset and the ruination of an already-planned megafight with Deontay Wilder.
Had Wallin, the 30-to-1 underdog from Sweden, actually defeated Fury on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena, it would have made Andy Ruiz Jr.'s upset seventh-round knockout of Anthony Joshua to take his three title belts on June 1 seem like no big deal.
On paper, and usually in practice, these kinds of fights are perfunctory -- such as Fury's second-round destruction of Tom Schwarz in June -- but that does not mean they are not dangerous. Against Wallin, Fury was lucky to escape with a unanimous decision victory, 118-110, 117-111 and 116-112, in a fight in which he was pressed hard all the way, and even in some trouble in the final round as Wallin emptied his gas tank in an effort to knock Fury out.
When it was over, it was clear that Fury had done enough to deserve the decision, but he sure didn't look like the winner. While Wallin had some bruising on his face, Fury's face looked like he had truly been through a war.
The southpaw Wallin (20-1, 13 KOs), 28, smartly targeted Fury's right eye after the initial cut and opened a second one. Even though Fury cutman Jorge Capetillo did an excellent job closing the gashes between rounds, they would soon open up again as soon as Wallin landed another shot.
Fury, who loves to talk and boast as much as any fighter in boxing, did not have that chance after the bout because he was sent to the hospital, where he received 47 stitches to close the gaping wounds.
The cuts Fury suffered were the worst I could think of since covering the Lennox Lewis-Vitali Klitschko heavyweight championship fight in 2003. In that bout, the referee stopped the fight in the corner on advice of the ringside doctor after the sixth round as Klitschko, who was ahead 58-56 on all three scorecards, had suffered horrific cuts around his left eye.
Referee Tony Weeks, one of boxing's best and a future Hall of Famer in my view, allowed Fury-Wallin to continue even after having the ringside doctor examine Fury's eye multiple times. However, the fight certainly could have been stopped because of the cuts at any time. Had the fight been stopped, Wallin would have won by stoppage because the cuts were ruled caused by punches, not an accidental head clash.
Had that happened, the much-anticipated rematch between Fury and world titleholder Wilder, penciled in for Feb. 22 in Las Vegas, would have been down the drain, the same way hope for an undisputed title fight between Wilder and Joshua was eviscerated when Ruiz, an 11-to-1 'dog, drilled Joshua.
Despite the difficulties in this fight, England's Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs), 31, did win to live up to his end of the bargain for a rematch of his disputed draw with Wilder last December. But the rematch, although signed, is not set just yet.
That's because there is one more fight to go, as Wilder must get past dangerous contender Luis "King Kong" Ortiz in his version of a tuneup fight. The Wilder-Ortiz sequel is penciled in for Nov. 23 in Las Vegas.
Wallin was supposed to be a layup for Fury and it did not turn out that way at all. Now here comes Ortiz, looking to wreck the best-laid plans and who on paper is a far more difficult fight for Wilder than Wallin should have been for Fury. Remember, Ortiz, a big Cuban southpaw with bruising power, nearly knocked out Wilder when they first met in March 2018, before finally succumbing to Wilder's massive power in a 10th-round knockout loss.
Promoters, managers and fighters taking supposed tuneup fights before the fights fans really want to see is often a calculated risk. A fighter is, supposedly, not facing anything too tough and everyone can secure one more payday before the big one. Sometimes it works out, as in the case of Fury-Wallin, despite many anxious moments. We'll see what happens with Wilder-Ortiz II.
But it didn't work out for Joshua, who fought Ruiz rather than making a deal to fight Wilder. There are others as well. One famous example is the late Tommy Morrison, who in 1993 had a signed contract for an $8 million payday to face then-heavyweight world titlist Lewis, but elected to take a quick payday in a hometown tuneup fight against the unknown Michael Bentt.
Instead of an easy night against a long shot, Morrison got knocked out in the first round. Gone was the big fight with Lewis and the big payday. Lewis-Morrison eventually did happen two years later, but with far less fanfare and for far less money.
We've already lost Joshua-Wilder, at least as far as it being the biggest fight in boxing between undefeated foes for the undisputed title. We almost lost Wilder-Fury II on Saturday night, when Wallin landed more punches against Fury (127) than Wilder (71) and Wladimir Klitschko (52) did combined, according to CompuBox.
Let's hope that come Nov. 24, we are not lamenting another lost megafight.
Munguia keeps rolling
Junior middleweight world titlist Jaime Munguia looked sharp in his first fight with new trainer (and all-time great Hall of Fame fighter) Erik Morales on Saturday night, scoring a fourth-round knockout of Patrick Allotey to retain his 154-pound belt for the fifth time.
Munguia (34-0, 27 KOs), 22, twice dropped Allotey (40-4, 30 KOs), 28, of Ghana, in the third round. He scored the first one with a left hook to the body -- a shot on the beltline Allotey complained was low -- with a minute left, and then the second with a left hook to the head at the bell ending the round.
When Munguia continued to take it to Allotey early in the fourth round, Allotey took a knee and although he got up, his corner threw in the towel. Referee Jack Reiss waved it off at 2 minutes, 18 seconds.
The next step: Munguia has struggled to make 154 pounds and has said for the past couple of fights, as has his promoter, Golden Boy, that he would like move up to middleweight for his first fight of 2020. After the bout, Munguia indicated that was likely the plan and that his days at junior middleweight are over without a defining fight.
Haney a star in the making
Lightweight Devin Haney looked absolutely sensational claiming a vacant interim world title on Friday night in the main event of the Matchroom Boxing card at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Granted, Haney faced Zaur Abdullaev, 25, who is not a top-flight opponent, but the way Haney destroys his competition is impressive.
In his previous fight in May, Haney (23-0, 15 KOs), 20, of Las Vegas, scored a knockout of the year contender against Antonio Moran. In this fight, Haney may have broken Abdullaev's (11-1, 7 KOs) cheek bone with a tremendous right hand in the fourth round, after which Abdullaev retired on his stool.
The CompuBox stats showed just how one-sided this fight was. Haney landed 88 of 212 punches (42%) to Abdullaev's landing just 29 of 102 (28%).
Haney has everything it takes to be a major star. He has tremendous speed, good power and fundamentals, a good team behind him, a work ethic and a seemingly unquenchable thirst for greatness. His boxing style is reminiscent of a young Floyd Mayweather, which should not come as much of a surprise because Floyd Mayweather Sr. has worked with him in the past.
The next step: Haney has been calling out pound-for-pound king and unified lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and, with the victory, is now one of his mandatory challengers. But that fight is still a bit off, if it ever happens. There is a good chance that Haney will be back quickly to fight on Nov. 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles on the undercard of the novelty fight between YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul.