There’s a COVID-19 outbreak in Tyson Fury’s camp, which will inevitably cause his July 24 heavyweight championship fight against Deontay Wilder to be postponed, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
No official determination has yet been made on whether the fight, set to be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and broadcast on ESPN+ PPV, will proceed as planned.
The fight is a joint pay-per-view with FOX, and that network has the Manny Pacquiao-Errol Spence Jr. PPV on Aug. 21, so it’s likely Fury-Wilder 3 would be moved to September, sources told ESPN.
“It was a crazy roller coaster toward this fight,” Fury said at last month’s news conference in Los Angeles to promote the fight. “I always say, ‘You’re never fighting someone until you’re in the ring opposite them.'”
Fury and Wilder have already competed against each other twice. The first meeting came in December 2018 and ended in a disputed draw. Despite suffering two knockdowns — including one in the final round — most observers believed Fury deserved the nod.
The “Gypsy King” left no doubt in the rematch in February 2020, scoring two knockdowns himself en route to a seventh-round stoppage after Wilder’s cornerman, Mark Breland, threw in the towel.
Neither Fury, 32, nor Wilder has appeared in the ring since. Wilder, 35, exercised his contractual right to a third fight afterward, but COVID barred Top Rank (Fury’s promoter) and PBC from staging the fight before a full audience.
The gate for the second bout generated $16,916,440 — a Nevada record for a heavyweight title tilt. The pay-per-view, priced at $79.99, raked in nearly 900,000 buys, sources told ESPN.
Top Rank and PBC attempted to stage the bout in December after October was deemed unfeasible due to COVID restrictions, but the unexpected resumption of the college football season left few available PPV dates in the final month of 2020 with two networks involved.
Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) and his team then considered the rematch clause expired and pushed forward with negotiations for a mega fight with fellow Englishman Anthony Joshua that would crown an undisputed champion. The sides agreed to a deal in May with Fury announcing on May 16 the fight would take place Aug. 14 in Saudi Arabia.
In the background, an independent arbitrator, Daniel Weinstein, was determining whether Fury indeed owed Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) a third fight. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum was deposed, as was his stepson, Top Rank president Todd duBoef. So, too, was PBC founder Al Haymon, Wilder’s manager Shelly Finkel and PBC executive Bruce Binkow. Fury and Wilder also gave depositions.
On May 17, one day after Fury announced he would meet Joshua in August, Weinstein ruled that he owed Wilder another fight.
“I didn’t feel any way about Fury trying to negotiate another fight,” Wilder said at the presser last month in Los Angeles. “We knew we were in the right and we knew they couldn’t run.”
It now appears likely Wilder will have to wait a little while longer for that chance at revenge.