Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder fight close to being done says Espinoza
By Trevor McIntyre: Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza says WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and former unified champion Tyson Fury are close to having a fight done for November 10 or November 17 on Showtime pay-per-view, according to ESPN.
Fury, 29, still has to beat his August 18 opponent Francesco Pianeta before he can think of facing Wilder in November. If Pianeta, 33, is lacking motivation for the fight against Fury, he now has it with the talk of his negotiations with Deontay Wilder.
Fury’s August 18 fight against Pianeta will be available for U.S fans to view on Showtime Boxing Facebook as well as Showtime Sports YouTube starting at 4:00 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. PT. The fight will be streamed. There’s also a replay of the Fury vs. Pianeta fight later in the evening at 10:00 p.m. ET on Showtime Extreme. That’s good news for U.S fans, as it will give them a chance to see Fury in action before he potentially faces Wilder on November 10 or November 17 on Showtime PPV.
In the meantime, British promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, has serious doubts about Fury facing Wilder in 2018. Hearn does see the Fury vs. Wilder fight ultimately happening, but not until 2019. He thinks that Fury will want to get more tune-up fights under his belt before he faces the 6’7” Wilder.
“It is very, very close. There isn’t anything signed yet between Tyson and Deontay or their respective promoters, but it’s very, very close,” Espinoza said to Dan Rafael on The Boxing Beat, the weekly ESPN+ boxing news. “Whether it’s 95 percent or 99 percent, it is very, very close. I think we’ll have paperwork imminently and the plan is for a Showtime Pay-Per-View.”
The 32-year-old Wilder is coming off of an exciting 10th round knockout victory over Luis Ortiz last March in Brooklyn, New York. Wilder was close to being knocked out in the 7th round by Ortiz. Wilder stayed on his feet and came roaring back to stop Ortiz in the 10th round. There was a lot of money that would have been lost by Wilder if he’d been beaten by Ortiz. If Wilder loses to Fury, he’ll miss out on the big payday against Anthony Joshua next year. The fight might still be made available to Wilder, but his offer from Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn will likely be reduced from the $15 million flat fee offer to considerably less than that.
Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel is working with Fury’s promoter Frank Warren to get the Fury-Wilder done. Based on what Espinoza and Fury are saying it sounds promising that the negotiations will be soon finalized.
Two time world title challenger Pianeta (35-4-1, 21 KOs) isn’t going to roll over on Fury on August 18 at Windsor Park in Belfast, Northern Ireland. This is Pianeta’s big opportunity to create a huge upset of epic proportions and set himself up for a lucrative rematch with the 6’9” Fury. The money that Pianeta can make in a rematch against Fury figures to be considerably more than the first fight if he can find a way to defeat him on August 18. Fury vs. Pianeta is scheduled for 10 rounds instead of 12 rounds. If Pianeta can drag ring rusty Fury into the later rounds, he might be able to beat him if he fades. Carrying around all the weight that Fury still has put on may prove to be a problem for him in the later rounds. In his last fight against Seferi, he weighed in at 276 pounds. That’s 30 pounds heavier than Fury weighed in for his fight against Wladimir Klitschko in 2015. Fury weighed 246 lbs. for the Klitschko fight, and he was at his career best weight against a very good fighter. Fury is going to need to get his weight back down to close to the mid-240s for him to have the conditioning that he had against Klitschko. As of a month ago, Fury was still looking heavy and not close to the 240s. He’s likely to be in the 260s for the Pianeta fight if that. Fury hasn’t gone all out as of yet to take off the last bit of weight that he packed on in his 2 ½ years out of the ring. It’s admirable for Fury to have taken off the amount of weight that he put on. At one time, Fury was close to 400 pounds. He’s lost at least 100 pounds since he started his comeback fight. Losing the last bit of weight is obviously not going to be easy for him.
Fury and Pianeta have an undercard slot on interim WBO featherweight champion Carl Frampton’s fight against Luke Jackson. If Fury can beat Pianeta and Wilder, he won’t have to worry about fighting on undercards. He’ll be a major headline attraction. It’s a little surprising that Fury agreed to fight on an undercard, as he’s popular enough to headline his own card in Manchester, England. Frampton brings in a lot of fans in Belfast, so it’s perhaps a better deal financially for Fury to fight on the undercard in front of a massive card at Windsor Park rather than at the Manchester Arena.
Wilder and Finkel had attempted to put together a unification fight against Anthony Joshua, but his promoter Eddie Hearn decided to go another route in matching his fighter against his WBA mandatory Alexander Povetkin on September 22 at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Hearn states that Wilder didn’t accept the deal that he was offering to him, which is said to be a $15 million flat fee. Hearn says that offer is still on the table for Wilder to sign for an open date on Joshua’s schedule early next year on April 13 at Wembley Stadium. Hearn and Joshua have even gone so far as to send the unchanged $15 million flat fee contract to Wilder to have him put his signature on it and send it back. Hearn wants Wilder to sign the contract before Joshua faces Povetkin on September 22. There’s a sense of urgency on Hearn’s part to have Wilder agree to the contract. Having Wilder sign for the April 13 fight against Joshua now would obviously increase interest from boxing fans in Joshua’s September 22 fight against Povetkin.
As far as attracting interest from U.S boxing fans, it might be a little early for Wilder to be facing Fury at this point. Until recently, Fury has been out of the ring for 2 ½ years, and before that his fights had not been televised in the United States. While he’s well known in Europe, he’s not widely known in the U.S by casual fans. The hardcore fans know of Fury in the U.S, but there are not enough of them for a fight between him and Wilder to be a huge pay-per-view level fight on Showtime. It would be far better for Fury to get half dozen fights under his belt before he faces Deontay Wilder on Showtime PPV in the States. For a fight between those two to be a big deal stateside, it would require that Fury’s tune-up level fights be shown on a network that is available to the average fan. Having Fury’s fights sold on a streaming site might not be enough to expose him to the average casual boxing fan in the U.S. A lot of fans still don’t bother subscribing to streaming services. They watch their boxing on ESPN [regular], Fox, HBO and Showtime.