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Bob Arum: Wilder-Fury II can do bigger PPV numbers with ESPN backing

The Top Rank promoter says the fight is still a priority for later this year.

Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Bob Arum says that a rematch between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder is still a priority, even though it’s not going to happen next, and that he feels with ESPN exposure for Fury, the fight can do huge numbers on pay-per-view.

Arum says that ESPN is intending to let a wider audience than the diehard boxing fans get to know the real Tyson Fury — whom Arum sees as “a larger-than-life character” — and that he feels that can make an eventual rematch much bigger than the first fight, which sold around 325,000 on Showtime pay-per-view in December.

“[I]f people got to know Fury and, hopefully, in some ways people get to know Wilder, this thing should go over 1.5 to 2 million buys on ESPN PPV. We’d make it a major, major event, not just do it because it’s there, because fight fans want to see it. I think if it goes in the fall after the tremendous buildup it will be blockbuster. That’s the gamble we’re taking.”

Now it’s worth noting that Top Rank did send an offer for a Wilder-Fury rematch, and Wilder co-manager Shelly Finkel says that it was a multi-fight deal for Wilder, including an interim bout before a Fury rematch. Basically, Finkel says that they’re not interested in having Wilder “given up to” Top Rank. Arum says that the offer didn’t include Wilder “making a commitment” to Top Rank beyond a rematch and potential third fight between the two.

Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KO) still intends to defend his WBC heavyweight title this spring, possibly on May 18, and it’s expected that Dominic Breazeale may be the lead candidate. Fury (27-0-1, 19 KO) will also fight this spring in either New York or Las Vegas.

But the bottom line for the large majority of fight fans is that Wilder and Fury won’t be fighting each other, and that’s what those loyal, paying customers wanted to see. And while it’s certainly not difficult to understand a promoter’s desire to make a fight as big and profitable as possible, it’s hard for those same fans to ignore that this sort of “marinating” has backfired before, and also that unless something politically changes in the fighters’ camps, there’s a really good chance this fight is no more likely to happen in the fall than it is right now.

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