Mar 6, 2019


Thanks to the most exciting heavyweight fight in recent memory, a split draw in Los Angeles on Dec.1, between Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), the stage had seemingly been set for a scheduled rematch on May 18.

Deontay Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel: Fury-Wilder Rematch Will Happen in 2019

As with the first fight, Showtime PPV and Showtime was slated to handle the May 18 rematch broadcast, but all that changed in the early morning hours of Feb. 18.

It was that day that Fury effectively called off an immediate rematch by announcing he had signed a multi-fight promotional agreement with Bob Arum‘s Top Rank Boxing.

By handing over those promotional rights, Fury locked himself into a contract which precludes his future fights from being broadcast without involvement of the network for which Top Rank is exclusively affiliated: ESPN.

In the aftermath of the Fury sign, Arum announced that Top Rank had extended an offer to Wilder’s co-manager Shelley Finkel and “advisor” Al Haymon.

Of that offer, Keith Idec subsequently reported on has been informed that the first fight of that proposed deal for Wilder would require him to fight someone other than Fury on ESPN+, the streaming service Arum’s company is helping ESPN push. Wilder would be paid handsomely to fight an undetermined opponent next on ESPN+ because Top Rank’s budget for fights on ESPN+ is bigger than its budget for fights on ESPN.

A Wilder-Fury rematch is part of that five-fight offer, yet that deal could require Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) to take multiple fights before facing Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) a second time in an ESPN Pay-Per-View main event.

Thanks to past precedent, while the aforementioned details of Top Rank’s reported offer to Wilder might not seem to completely eliminate the possibility that Showtime and ESPN could temporarily bury the hatchet in a good faith effort to consummate the May 18 rematch date, what Idec reports next indicates that contractual obligations and matters of compensation are not the only thing in play between the two parties:

While Wilder did make it known Monday that he isn’t contractually tied to Showtime or any other network, he also appreciates all that Showtime has done to build his brand and his bank account in recent years. Furthermore, Haymon has a three-year deal with Showtime to provide Premier Boxing Champions content for that premium cable network and no active fighter in his huge stable has consistently drawn greater viewership for Showtime than the hard-hitting WBC heavyweight champion.

There are financial components to Top Rank’s offer that are attractive. Wilder wants to remain loyal to Showtime, however, and doesn’t want Arum to be the front man for promoting his career because the 87-year-old legend hasn’t had a hand in building it.

Then there’s the fact that, in an interview with Fight Hub TV, Arum called Haymon “a cancer in boxing” just four months ago. Whatever you think of Haymon, that cannot be ignored when assessing whether Haymon, for all his business savvy, would rush to enter even a fruitful financial partnership with an adversary that has publicly questioned his business practices repeatedly.

While a May 18 fight is now clearly out of the question, last weekend Wilder co-manager Finkel, while appearing on the United Kingdom radio outlet TalkSport, did more than hint that a Fury-Wilder match before the year is out remains a distinct possibility.

Talksport’s Gareth Davies: “Are (we) going to get this (Fury-Wilder fight) in the Fall?


“Yes. Someone is going to think, ‘we gotta be rational, we gotta makes this work properly,’ and I believe that Arum being smart, which he is, and a very good promoter, which he is, he said, ‘let me tie up Fury, that’s how I’ll get Wilder.’

“He got Fury, he’s not getting Wilder except maybe in a co-promotion on a rematch and a tripleheader and I’m open to that.”

This week Mike Coppinger of The Ring reported that Wilder plans to keep the May 18 date regardless:

The 33-year-old will make a defense of his WBC heavyweight title May 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, industry sources told The Ring. That’s the same date that was pegged for Wilder’s rematch with Fury before the Brit signed with Top Rank and ESPN.

The front-runner to land the assignment is Dominic Breazeale, per sources; he’s the longtime WBC mandatory challenger who has history with Wilder owing to a post-fight incident between the two in February 2017. It’s possible the WBC will order the fight between Wilder and Breazeale this week.

Whether advisable or not, by passing up a lucrative, multi-fight offer from Top Rank – and the accompanying publicity that fighting on ESPN would bring – no one can accuse Wilder of disloyalty to Haymon, Finkel, and Showtime.