Pretty much every Sunday morning after the biggest fight of the previous night, we wonder what’s next for Saturday’s big winner.
Usually it involves various possibilities, scenarios discussing why things can or can’t happen, and hopes and arguments and pipe dreams.
Today, not so much. Deontay Wilder knocked out Luis Ortiz in their rematch last night, and when it was over, he finally fully confirmed it: he’ll be rematching Tyson Fury in February.
The Wilder-Fury rematch has been said to be set in stone for Feb. 2020 for a while now, but all of that was coming from Fury’s side, notably one of his promoters, Bob Arum of Top Rank. Wilder, however, wasn’t really indicating that it was a truly done deal, but after the Ortiz fight, he said on live TV that Fury is next.
There is still, of course, the possibility that this won’t happen. There’s always that change. Until they meet at a press conference, something could happen that screws the plan up. It’s not an easy one, really — Fury is exclusive to ESPN networks with his Top Rank deal, and Wilder is a PBC fighter, which means his fights are carried by FOX and Showtime. The two sides don’t so easily work together — the promoters, that is — but for now, this looks like it’s happening.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KO) and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KO) met in Dec. 2018, and that was a fight that sort of came out of nowhere. At the time, there was lots of talk about Wilder and Anthony Joshua meeting, and that situation grew increasingly hostile. Suddenly, Wilder and PBC pulled an ace in Fury, announcing that fight.
Fury fought tremendously for most of the night, and many felt he deserved the win, but Wilder did score two knockdowns — including an incredible shot in the 12th and final round that Fury somehow got up from, which became an instant viral hit online. The judges scored a split draw.
The WBC ordered a rematch in early 2019, and it looked like it would happen before Fury surprised everyone again, this time by signing with Top Rank and turning down the order. He’s fought twice since, beating Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin in fights that Top Rank and ESPN hoped would raise his profile in the United States and make him a mainstream star.
They did raise his profile to some degree simply by happening in Las Vegas and being heavily promoted on ESPN networks, but they also fell far short of making Wilder-Fury 2 the guaranteed 3 million PPV-seller that Arum has talked up since signing Fury. Fury, to put it mildly, is still no household name.
Wilder, meanwhile, defended against mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale and now against Ortiz, taking care of both with spectacular knockouts.
And now it looks like we’re headed for the fight we wanted, albeit taking place a little under a year later than we hoped it would.
Wilder-Fury remains a fascinating matchup. Nobody in the division is any better a boxer than Fury, who is also one of the few men who is as tall if not taller than Wilder. But nobody in the division hits like Wilder, either, something even Fury readily admits, albeit in between bouts of screaming about Wilder being a “dosser.”
It may not sell three million on pay-per-view, but it would surely be a hit. If you had both FOX and ESPN promoting a heavyweight title rematch of an incredibly memorable fight with loads of drama, and two guys who know how to do an interview, you have the potential for a hit that is far beyond anything they might be able to do with any other opponent. They are, in many ways, a perfect fit for one another, Fury and Wilder.
So here’s hoping it’s what we actually get. Again, I won’t be 100% until I see them together on a stage, but there’s reason to be confident. Let’s see these big fellas do it again.