With the rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury finally made 100 percent official for Feb. 22 in Las Vegas, there are questions about how the show is going to be handled, what with it being an unusual working agreement not just between two different promotional outfits (Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions), but between two different networks (FOX and ESPN).
Top Rank’s Bob Arum says that the plan is for the two sides to split the undercard, both on pay-per-view and the prelims. Arum tells ESPN that each side will put one fight on the PPV undercard before the main event, and the prelims, which will air on FOX and ESPN platforms, will have six more fights, three from each side.
A three-fight pay-per-view bill won’t necessarily be unwelcome, but it’d be the first of its kind at this level of event in a long, long time. Traditionally in modern times, pay-per-view shows have three undercard bouts and a main event, but we’re in a whole new world with all of this. We also didn’t have prelim bouts airing regularly until just this past year or so, with ESPN+ and DAZN expanding coverage of prelim bouts thanks to the fact that they’re streaming and not filling a specific time slot on TV, and PBC has done the same by putting prelim bouts on before pay-per-views and even before their normal shows on FOX and FS1.
Hopefully we get some good stuff here, but my suspicion is we’ll have some fairly standard matchups that don’t get anyone super excited. Wilder-Fury 2 is going to sell the show itself, and unless you were to put an actual second blockbuster fight on the show — which most likely isn’t going to happen — there’s nothing the undercard can add that’s really likely to sway a buyer who is currently undecided.
That said, it never hurts to throw some name Mexican fighters onto a show like this, so maybe we’ll see Leo Santa Cruz and Emanuel Navarrete fight another couple ham-and-eggers or something, and some prospects on the prelims.