THE 69-year-old Hall of Fame promoter who this time last year was recovering from coronavirus has started 2022 in somewhat better fettle. Last week, Frank Warren secured the rights to host the heavyweight championship fight between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte.
Warren stormed the race with an eye-watering bid of $41,025,000, crossing the line like a showboating Usain Bolt in his pomp. Matchroom’s bid of $32,222,222 was a distant second.
The by-now famous 80/20 purse split in Fury’s favour (or infamous, depending on which side you’re on) will be divvied out from 90 per cent of the successful bid. The remaining 10 per cent will go to the winner, as per the rules of the WBC-bidding process. Those percentages could change if Whyte’s ongoing arbitration with the sanctioning body rules in his favour. Whyte, presuming he goes ahead with the bout, is already guaranteed the highest purse of his career.
“I was determined to get this fight,” Warren told Boxing News about the arduous bidding process, eventually completed at the fifth time of asking. “We’ve at last now got something we can work towards. Tyson has only had one fight in nearly two years, he wants and needs to be active. In the end, this was the fight he wanted.”
It is claimed that efforts to make Fury-Oleksandr Usyk for all the alphabet belts failed when Joshua’s team asked for more money than had originally been agreed to step aside from his rematch with the Ukrainian. “At this point, Tyson had had enough,” Warren said. “He told us to move forward with the Whyte fight.”
Approximately 30 minutes before the bids were sealed, Boxxer’s Ben Shalom called George Warren to negotiate on Whyte’s behalf. It is believed that Shalom and Dillian’s lawyer, as opposed to Whyte’s long-time promoter Eddie Hearn, were representing Whyte during the process.
Regardless of the appeal of Fury-Whyte, the size of the winning bid was a shock. The promotion will have to make some serious cash to be profitable. Yet the process of deciding the sum was simple, Warren said. “First thing you do is look at what you can get as guarantees,” he explained. “So we spoke to ESPN in America, [Fury’s US promoter] Top Rank and BT Sport here. Then you look at what is likely to be made on the gate and add on any merchandising revenue.”
Warren is now finalising the boxers’ contracts with three UK venues under consideration. The date of the fight is likely to be the second or third week of April, ESPN will broadcast in the US, with BT Sport Box Office showing the bout in the UK. The promoter has promised that all details will be revealed at a press conference next week.
Thankfully, there will be no rematch clause. The hope, and we’re told the plan, is for the winner to meet the victor of Usyk-Joshua II, though the status of that sequel is unclear; Usyk is reportedly injured and unable to fight until the end of May. It still leaves plenty of time for Fury/Whyte vs Usyk/Joshua later in the year, however.
“One step at a time,” Warren said when asked if any guarantees can be made regarding the definitive fight happening next. “These days, it’s not a simple process making just one fight… On the one hand, the four sanctioning bodies means there are more opportunities for the fighters than many years ago. But it was simpler back then, it’s all so convoluted and drawn out now, it is rarely straightforward.”
It is never straightforward. Though the purse bids and attempts to make Fury-Usyk captured the sport’s attention, it can’t be denied that we’d be in a better position if contests were a matter of course instead of constant speculation. But we all know boxing doesn’t work like that.
Thankfully, Warren said Dubois beating Bryan (both unranked by BN) for the spurious ‘regular’ strap would make him “mandatory” as opposed to ‘world champion’. Joyce, currently injured, is looking to return in May. The promoter insists the priority is for Fury, Whyte, Usyk and Joshua to settle their differences before Dubois or Joyce (or anyone else) gets involved.
So here we go again. We return to the semi-final stage with hopes renewed that this time we might actually get to see a final in the forseeable future.