Sunday, November 27, 2022  |



Otto Wallin, promoter Dmitriy Salita not satisfied with Dillian Whyte pullout situation


Dillian Whyte on Thursday insisted that he did injure his shoulder, for real, and he isnt faking an injury to get out of a fight with Otto Wallin because he wants to make sure he stays healthy as possible for a date with Tyson Fury.

Whyte’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, sat next to the 33 year old Whyte, and set the table for Whyte’s explanation at the press conference which also served to hype the Saturday night Matchroom card at 02 in London, which was to be topped by a Whyte v Fury battle.

Hearn, who elevated the Chantelle Cameron v Mary McGee super lightweight title scrap to the top of the slate, said that the 28-2 fighter would be discussing the circumstances which led him to declare himself unfit for the fight which was to have unfolded Saturday, and he sent a tonal message when he labeled folks who thought the timing of the pullout dubious “cynics.”

“Sorry I had to pull out of the fight because of injury, but this is boxing and these things happen, with big heavyweights,” Whyte stated.  “I was sparring some big guys, I had four massive southpaws in camp, but I’m training hard, it’s a big fight, obviously, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake as Tyson Fury, underestimating Wallin,” so he was working extra hard. “The injury just happened and unfortunately…people say, ‘You pulled out for Tyson Fury.’ If that was the case, I woulda pulled out three, four weeks ago, when I knew the mandatory situation was gonna be in place. My camps costs a lot of money, my training camps cost me a lot of money, I woulda pulled out early to save all this money and stuff…I woulda pulled out weeks ago…” Whyte said he’s fought hurt a ton, but he’s getting older, he said, so he figured better safe than sorry.

Hearn said him and Whyte were feeling “devastated” that he wouldn’t be gloving up, and that Whyte’s doctor didn’t clear him to do batte.

Whyte also said he was fixing to KO Wallin in 6 or 7 rounds, after attacking his body, so, truly, he’s disappointed.

The fighter joked that he thinks he’s been getting heat on social media because people like to bust his promoters’ balls. Hearn chuckled at that, and said a medical report has been sent to the British Boxing Board of Control.

The Brit deal-maker tossed in his attempt at “legitimizing” the injury claim, sharing that a Whyte sparring partner had told him one day that because of a shoulder issue, Whyte wouldn’t be sparring as scheduled. The fighter continued, saying that he tried to fight through it, but it wasn’t working.

Hearn took the baton then: “Obviously we know the silver lining is a fight with Tyson Fury, the WBC has already confirmed you are the mandatory challenger to Tyson Fury, that fight will be ordered, and you will be fighting him next. We know that it probably won’t be till early next year, not because of your injury, but because of the timings of the mandatory, and negotiations, and Fury just fighting as well.”

It must be a sort of sweet, despite the disappointment at not being able to fight at 02 on Saturday, Hearn said to Whyte, that finally he’ll get a crack at a world title. If you were unaware, Whyte has been waiting, patiently mostly, for a title shot.

Back in January 2018, he thought he was at the front of a short line to get a chance to lift the WBC belt off then champ Deontay Wilder. But rulings kept popping up that kept Whyte from stepping to the plate. In July 2019 he got upbeat that the waiting would be over, when he beat Oscar Rivas and took home the WBC “interim” heavyweight title. But he waited more, and took a stay busy fight, besting Mariusz Wach in December 2019.

More waiting occured into 2020; Whyte hammered Wilder for being a “coward,” and supposedly avoiding him, and also thought that Fury might not fight him if he took the crown off Wilder on Feb. 22, 2020. And being the No. 1 rated heavyweight did nothing for him when Wilder decided he’d go to another tango with Fury. Whyte needed to fight, make a purse, so he agreed to battle Alexander Povetkin in May 2020….but then COVID made Whyte cool his jets.

They convened on Aug. 22, 2020, with the WBC trying to mollify the Jamaican-born pugilist by having an “interim” and a “diamond” belt there for the taking. Whyte got taken to la-la land, however, by Povetkin in round five.

Whyte wanted to get back on the bad bronco, fight Povetkin three months later, but Povetkin got COVID, so they finally rumbled on March 27, 2021. Whyte, to his credit, ignored any ghosts, and took it to the 41 year old Povetkin, scoring a TKO4 victory. Then, it was back to the customary wait and assess and jockey for position mode for Whyte.

The Brit–he moved to England from Jamaica when he was 12–targeted Chris Arreola, leading to a clash with Andy Ruiz, then Deontay Wilder for a tussle, as it was looking like Fury would be engaging in a UK Ultra-Superfight, against Anthony Joshua. That plan went up in smoke, however; on May 17, 2021, an arbitrator ruled that Fury had to give Wilder another crack at the crown.

So Whyte tried to bang the drums to get people hyped for a Whyte v Joshua fight, while promoter Hearn sought a play. Charles Martin was talked about, as was Jermaine Franklin. But whaddya know, COVID threw a knuckleball into the mix, with Fury coming down with the virus, pushing back a July 24 Fury-Wilder trilogy battle. Hearn offered to have Whyte step in and save the date, but his solution gained no traction.

Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk signed up to tango. AJ was favored to win his Sept. 25 defense against the WBO’s top contender, the former cruiserweight bossman, but Usyk’s skill set befuddled the body-beautiful hitter. So equations wobbled with Usyk now holding straps, but Fury did the expected and he held onto the WBC title when he got the better of Deontay in their thriller throwdown. That brings us to where we are now, roughly; on Sept. 15, word came out that Whyte would fight Otto Wallin, topping a Matchroom card at the 02 in London on Oct. 30. Whyte got to training harder, Wallin knuckled down and readied himself for the opportunity.

But things got shifted on October 6, when WBC boss Mauricio Sulaiman announced that whoever won the Oct. 9 Fury v Wilder match would get 30 days to negotiate an ultimate unification hoedown, and if that can’t be made, the Oct. 9 winner would have to meet the WBC’s interim champion. That would be Whyte OR Wallin, the Swedish lefty.

Wallin shared with the writer how he thought it could go versus Whyte. Then the anvil dropped.

Or not…

On Oct. 20, word dropped that Whyte hurt his shoulder, and would not be fighting at 02 on Oct. 30. Whyte has (rightfully, at times) bitched about how he’s been screwed over and put off unfairly despite being promised that his No. 1 ranking would bear fruit. But now it was Wallin who felt the sting. He was due to fly from NY to London on Oct. 20, and now he was left to figure out what was what.

Wallin and promoter Salita wanted Otto to be able to not waste the condition he was in, and would probably have agreed to a fill in foe, for a respectable purse,  on Oct. 30. Yes, it’s fair to say that there was polite skepticism in many camps about that “shoulder injury.”

Team Wallin looked forward to watching the Thursday session with Whyte and Hearn, because, Salita told me, he and Wallin and company had sought the fight to be re-scheduled, not cancelled. A bit of a war of words erupted. “We went and did an MRI [scan] the next day and it showed my shoulder was way worse than I thought it was. I wanted to fight,” Whyte told BBC Five Live. “I said if we managed it, got an injection before the fight, I’ll fight. I didn’t want to pull out. But no, because you get idiots like [Dmitriy] Salita and Wallin talking crap.”

Quick point: Salita is a pretty darned polite and chill dude, in my experience. And Otto is nothing but a gent anytime I’ve interacted with him, to the point I give silent props to his parents for raising a nice boy. “Idiots” and “talking crap” don’t ring a bell for me if we’re looking to describe those men. You don’t have to be an unbridled cynic to think maybe the “crap” in play was maybe being dispensed by Whyte on Thursday, when he asked rhetorically, “Why would I be scared to fight Otto Wallin…and his idiot manager Dmitriy Salita?” I think he himself answered the question when he said that he was still upset, because “I lost out on an opportunity, a lot of money, and also a good chance to beat someone who people really rate who I don’t really rate…” Yes, Whyte a little bit contradicted himself there. I saw Wallin v Whyte as pretty much a 50-50 fight, in fact.

Whyte also acknowledged that shit happens, that he’s planning on going right into a fight with Fury, but it’s possible that doesn’t come off, because maybe Fury decides to up and retire. “Now I’m just gonna focus on recovery and healing up,” Whyte said, neglecting to mention the exact diagnosis and what the doc said about required recovery and/or rehab time. “We look forward to negotiations beginning for that fight,” Hearn said, drawing a chuckle from the fighter.

Hearn said they could have cancelled the card, but no, the show must go on mentality prevailed. OK, it didn’t prevail for Mr Wallin, which sucks for him. It’s bad form, you could argue, that Otto doesn’t even get a pittance kill fee for all that lost time.

I spoke to Otto Thursday night. “I saw the press conference,” Wallin said. “To me he looked totally fine. I still don’t know if the injury is true or not since they’ve only presented some vague statements and no evidence.”

Otto also saw how Whyte used both his shoulder here…

..and here…

…and didn’t seem to wince or anything. It does leave one–and no, you don’t have to be a “cynic” to be thinking that the timing of the injury was weird– wondering more than a bit, if a doctors note testifying to the legitimacy of an injury isn’t furnished, on the actual status of the shoulder. If Team Whyte is not liking the speculation, there’s a fix. Get out evidence, be transparent, and that should shut up anyone with anything to say.

Promoter Salita explained why he’s not at all pleased with how this has played out. “I am protecting my fighter,” he said to me on Thursday night. “I never met Whyte, we just want the truth from professionals. When a kid misses school and says he was sick he has to bring a signed doctor note. The fact that he is personally insulting me should raise some eyebrows, talk about the substance of the situation with facts, not personal insults. That is defamation of character to deflect the main purpose of the press conference. He is not dealing with the issue of the injury and some of his quotes prior to the pull-out raise red flags. We did not receive an MRI or any kind of diagnostic information.” A quickie mention of Wallin v Alen Babic, no details on purse, travel, accommodations etc, wasn’t in the right ballpark regarding how to make it right, according to Salita.

I messaged Eddie Hearn to get his take on the whole matter. “We have submitted doctors reports to the Commission who have been liaising with Team Wallin,” Hearn answered. “We tried to keep Wallin on the card and offered him a fight with Alen Babic but he turned it down.”

Tomorrow, Wallin will know that he would have been involved in the highest-stakes fight of his life, and will be wrestling with certain feelings. “I feel disappointed how this situation has played out but ultimately I’m going to use this as extra motivation,” Wallin said Friday afternoon. “I’m going back to Europe tonight, to see my family for the first time in two years. I’m going to go back and get rejuvenated by seeing everybody and I’ll be ready for whatever is next!”