By Mark Elezaj
This past Monday, news spread throughout the fight community that Top Rank has signed the Lineal Heavyweight Champion, Tyson Fury, to a co-promotional contract. Huge news! With this new deal, fight fans will now get the chance to see Fury’s future fights on any ESPN platform. But with the signing of this contract comes the question everyone wants answered, what about the Wilder vs. Fury rematch? Fight fans feel that this new deal will be the death of the potential rematch with Wilder.
So what’s the problem?
Showtime and Showtime PPV has showcased Wilder in recent years while Bob Arum and Top Rank invested their time and money with HBO. Before HBO stepped away from the boxing game, Arum was already finalizing a deal with ESPN to broadcast Top Ranks fights.
When Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) fought back on December 1st, 2018 to a split draw in Los Angeles, Showtime PPV broadcasted the fight.
So what now?
Bob Arum told ESPN Tuesday night that he does not believe Showtime has a contractual hold on Wilder or the rematch. He stated that he wants to negotiate a deal with both Al Haymon and Shelly Finkel, (who represent Wilder), to finalize the rematch, and that he also wants to work with both men regarding future Wilder fights, with ESPN, for big money. Arum also stated that he would be sending out an offer to Haymon and Finkel on Wednesday.
“We want to speak to Wilder together with his manager and his adviser and we want to do this fight where it belongs, on a big platform, which is ESPN pay-per-view. Wilder himself said there is no contractual impediment that would prevent it. None. He is not signed in any manner, shape or form to any network. We have been informed that it is not the case. Ultimately, that may not be the case but I really believe from what we learned that Wilder is telling the truth and he is not bound to any network for any fight.
“We’re going to reach out and say contact us, please, and bring whomever you want to a meeting, your manager Finkel, your adviser Haymon, your trainer, bring any and all of them to a meeting with us and let’s sit down and put this together.”
Stephen Espinoza, Showtime Sports president, declined to say whether Showtime had a contractual right to the rematch. He did however state that he was confident that their relationship with Wilder would continue.
“I’m not going to get into specifics about Showtime’s contractual rights and entitlements but I will say we are very confident and very comfortable with our position with Deontay.
“We’ve worked with Deontay and supported Deontay for many, many years and many, many fights and we fully expect for that to continue for the foreseeable future.”
Arum feels that there’s no reason why all parties involved can not come together and make Wilder vs. Fury 2 happen.
“The idea that we wouldn’t do business with Finkel or Haymon is absurd, we want to do this fight and we want to do it sensibly and correctly. We’re ready to put up all the money to do the fight. If it can’t happen it can’t happen, but it’s Wilder’s choice subject to advice from his manager and adviser. The one thing we want to make clear is there is no impediment to doing business with Wilder no matter who his manager is, no matter who his adviser is. We’re happy to deal with them. Wilder is going to have to decide what he wants to do in consultation with Finkel and Haymon.”
Even before this co-promotional deal was signed, the rematch was ordered by the WBC, with a date of May 18 being targeted. Arum said that he would have no problem making the rematch next, but would prefer to have Wilder and Fury both fight in the spring or summer followed by the much anticipated rematch in the fall.
“ESPN+ will pay significant money for them to fight other fighters and then to do the rematch on pay-per-view in the fall. That is all open for discussion. It’s certainly not a deal breaker if they want to do the rematch next. Fury is happy either way. He is happy with the tremendous money he will earn for a fight on ESPN+ and I think Wilder will be equally happy with doing a fight on ESPN+ for the money I know we can offer. Wilder has to make that decision. We’re not talking about peanuts. We’re talking about Wilder probably making more against somebody else than he made when he fought Fury and then making even more in the rematch in the fall.”
Whatever does happen, one thing is for sure, Tyson Fury signing this co-promotional contract was a big deal for Bob Arum, Top Rank, ESPN and most importantly, for boxing.
~ The Fighting Voice ~
(Photo credit – Harry How/Getty Images)