Bob Arum anticipates complaints from Deontay Wilder and his team.
Tyson Fury’s co-promoter is certain, though, that the former WBC heavyweight champion doesn’t have any legal recourse if Fury moves forward with his plan to fight an undetermined opponent December 5 at Royal Albert Hall in London. Arum informed BoxingScene.com that Fury is well within his rights, per terms of his contracts for second and third fights with Wilder, to fight someone other than Wilder now that the time frame within which they were obligated to box a third time has expired.
Arum told BoxingScene.com and numerous other outlets throughout the postponement process that Fury-Wilder III could not take place without fans in attendance because his company, Top Rank Inc., Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, ESPN and FOX Sports couldn’t make that extremely expensive fight work financially without that significant revenue stream from ticket sales. Their plan, until recently, was to hold the third Fury-Wilder fight at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the new home of the NFL’s Raiders.
“There’s definitely no legal recourse for them,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “Are they gonna complain? Sure. You’ve gotta understand, the reason there was this very certain window for the rematch, that some people might say was a small window, is that it was negotiated by both sides. And as I recall it, they thought they were gonna win, so they wanted as small a window as possible to get rid of the third fight, so they would go on and not be burdened. So, it wasn’t like we insisted that the window be very small to do the third fight, because we didn’t know we were gonna win the fight.”
Fury-Wilder III initially was targeted for July 18, but it quickly was pushed back 2½ months, to October 3.
Wilder underwent surgery to repair a torn left biceps after Fury stopped him in the seventh round of their rematch February 22 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Arum noted Wilder’s injury was the primary reason for the first postponement. Fans wouldn’t have been able to attend Wilder-Fury III, however, if they fought July 18 or October 3 in Las Vegas due to government restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their rematch, a joint pay-per-view venture between ESPN and FOX Sports, generated nearly $17 million in ticket revenue, a Nevada record for a heavyweight fight.
The 34-year-old Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) has not commented publicly since Fury, Frank Warren, Fury’s other co-promoter, and Arum have publicly discussed their plan for him to return to the ring December 5.
If Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) wins that bout and his British rival, Anthony Joshua, wins his fight the following Saturday, Fury wants to fight Joshua in what would be an enormous domestic event sometime in the first half of 2021. England’s Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs), the IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion, is scheduled to make a mandated defense of his IBF title against Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) on December 12 at O2 Arena in London.
Arum explained that Fury-Wilder III could’ve been rescheduled for a month or two later than December 19, but the 32-year-old Fury insisted on boxing before then.
“We lost December 19th,” Arum said, referring to a decision made by ESPN and FOX Sports. “The networks suggested the end of January or the end of February. They gave us two dates. And Fury said, ‘No. I wanna fight this year. And then I’m going on and fighting Joshua.’ And under his contract, he had every right to do that. There’s not even a question [about it]. He didn’t even have to wait till December 19th, which was the original date, because the contract ran out in October.
“It wasn’t a force majeure [situation] because it had to be done by July. And then [Wilder] was injured, so they had a 90-day postponement [clause]. We postponed it until October. And then we decided to do it in December because October was too soon. So, you know, it’s not gonna happen unless – you never know – what happens if Pulev knocks out or beats Joshua?”
Meanwhile, Arum hasn’t heard from Haymon or anyone affiliated with PBC regarding Fury fighting someone other than Wilder next.
“I haven’t heard from anybody,” Arum said. “I haven’t heard from Shelly [Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager] since the night of the fight. I haven’t heard from Al since before the fight. And I know that [Bruce] Binkow, on behalf of PBC, and [Top Rank president] Todd [duBoef] have been talking throughout this. And Todd told Binkow what the story was.”
Arum isn’t sure how to interpret Wilder’s silence these past several months.
“I don’t know,” Arum said. “Listen, [the media has] more contact with Wilder than I have. I mean, even in the promotion of the second fight, and I wasn’t involved in the first fight, I said hello to him. I saw him on stage, but I really don’t have a feel for him, because I can’t say I even know him. I mean, he seemed a pleasant enough guy to me, but I don’t know him. But he has been awful quiet, hasn’t he?”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.