IT’S easy to lose faith that one of the heavyweight mega-fights will happen any time soon. Yesterday WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder announced that his next fight, a May 18 mandatory defence against Dominic Breazeale, would be televised on Showtime.
Unified WBO, WBA and IBF champion Anthony Joshua is boxing next on DAZN while Tyson Fury, the third major heavyweight name, has signed a significant deal with broadcast giant ESPN.
But Frank Warren, who co-promotes Fury with Top Rank, remains optimistic. He believes Wilder and Fury will still be able to have their rematch before 2019 is out.
“I like Deontay, I really want to get it out that I said it, dealing with him was a pleasure, he’s a gentleman and I think he’s shown tremendous loyalty to his team Shelley [Finkel], Al Haymon, PBC and to Showtime and it’s a smart move for him to make because he’s got all these options open to do what he wants to after his fight, providing his beats Breazeale,” Warren told Boxing News.
“He’s not locked into anybody and more importantly he’s got a great chance of earning more money there was offered on the table by DAZN because obviously they were just ‘that’s what you’re getting paid’ whereas these [potential] pay-per-view fights, whoever he was to fight, certainly if fights Tyson [could be earn him more].”
He is adamant that Wilder could fight Fury later this year, though most likely that would have to take place on ESPN pay-per-view. “That would make more sense in my opinion than going on Showtime because they’ve got a bigger platform,” Warren said. “I’m hoping we can get that on sometime this year, fingers crossed that gets on, that’s a big fight for both of them and they will earn tremendous money and it’s a fight that can be made now because obviously this situation with DAZN’s not happening.”
The promoter emphasised that discussions between himself and Wilder’s team had not broken down. Eddie Hearn, who promotes Anthony Joshua, has had more fraught dealings with Wilder’s side.
“Shelley, and we’ve had our ups and downs over the years but he’s a friend, Shelley, and I class him as a good friend. Because you can’t agree a deal with somebody doesn’t mean you start calling [names] somebody who’s well respected in boxing, when you think of the amount of years he’s been in the sport and you think of the fighters he’s been working with, going back to Pernell Whittaker, all those great fighters over the years,” Warren said. “You [Eddie Hearn] are calling him Shirely. It’s pathetic really, isn’t it? So what do you think you’re going to get exactly? You know, you go down that road and it’s childish and sometimes you do that, you’re a bit of a Jack the lad and you’ve got plenty to say [but] the outcome is that you know, no one’s going to bend over backwards.”
Wilder having to move off Showtime however would be a significant concession. After Fury revealed his deal with ESPN, Warren acknowledges, “They [Wilder’s side] were disappointed because we were quite close to getting the fight done but it was an offer at the end of the day that makes the fight a bigger fight because Tyson is getting that huge platform there on ESPN. It’s in 75% of the homes in the states so his fights are going to be seen by a vast audience.
“It’s a far bigger audience than Deontay’s next fight and certainly a far bigger audience than Anthony Joshua’s next fight so he’s going to be the guy that’s got the profile and that can only make the fight against Deontay worth more money to both fighters so it’s a no brainer at the end of the day.”
Warren believes Wilder-Fury II is a matter of months away. “When I say short term, short term is only a few months and long term will only be a few months because I think the fight will get on providing obviously they both keep winning,” he said.
In the meantime Fury will box on ESPN for the first time in June against, we’re told, “somebody who’s ranked in the top five in the world”. The heavyweight landscape remains a labyrinth but Fury’s team certainly are satisfied with what they see.