Arum wants Wilder vs. Fury rematch to marinate until September
By Chris Williams: Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum wants to let the rematch between WBC heavyweight belt holder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury marinate until possibly September after the two of them have had interim fights in order to build up the second fight between them.
Seeing this from Top Rank and Arum’s perspective, it make sense for them to let the Wilder-Fury rematch marinate as long as they can in order to get the most money out of the fight that they can. Top Rank is paying Fury a lot of money with their new multi-fight contract with him, and it would be wise to make sure that rematch between Wilder and Fury brings in as many pay-per-view buys as possible.
Fury is just now starting out in fighting in the United States, so he’s not well known enough for a fight between him and Wilder to be the blockbuster that it would need to be for it to bring in scads of PPV buys on ESPN. To build it up properly, Fury and Wilder likely need to let the fight marinate for another three to five years. That’s not happening. Fury’s contract with Top Rank is said to be for 30 months, and they need quality fights from the British fighter to attract interest from knowledgeable American boxing fans. There’s only three popular fighters in the heavyweight division in Fury, Wilder and Anthony Joshua, and none of them are popular in the U.S. Wilder isn’t even popular.
Arum sees the Wilder-Fury fight as capable of being seen by up to two million homes. That would a considerable bump up from the 325,000 pay-per-view buys their previous fight pulled in on SHOWTIME PPV on December 1. Former heavyweight champion Fury (27-0-1, 19 Ks) signed with Top Rank Boxing last Monday, and his fights will now be shown on ESPN. With signing, Fury will potentially seen by a large amount of fans, but only if Top Rank is able to increase his popularity to the extent that the American boxing public will want to bother to see his fights. Some boxing might see this attitude from Arum as a sign of greed in letting the Wilder vs. Fury 2 marinate until September. The fans want to see the rematch NOW, and they don’t have to wait another seven months while the two of them take on soft touches to look good.
“We envision this [rematch] can reach 1 to 2 million homes,” Arum said to the latimes.com. “The only way to do that is to allow the general sports fan to really get to know these guys.”
1 to 2 million pay-per-view buys for the Wilder vs. Fury 2 fight doesn’t sound realistic at all. Not even the two Saul Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin fights came close to bringing in 2 million PPV buys on HBO, and that fight had a tremendous of interest from the boxing public. Even 1 million buys would be an incredible number for the Wilder vs. Fury second fight. Those numbers don’t seem to be possible for a heavyweight match between a British heavyweight that the casual boxing fans have never heard of, and a American heavyweight champion that they’re not fond of. Wilder is a good fighter, but he’s not been able to win a huge fan base like former American heavyweight champions Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali did. The reason for that is obvious. Wilder hasn’t looked as dominating as a champion as Ali and Mike Tyson were, and he’s failed to fight the big names in order to increase his popularity.
Wilder 40-0-1, 39 KOs) doesn’t fight on ESPN. He fights on SHOWTIME, so his popularity might not increase in the same exponential way as Fury. In other words, it might not help for Arum to let the Wilder-Fury rematch marinate another seven months. A lot of things can go wrong if the two fighters choose to go along with Arum’s idea of letting the fight brew until the end of the year. Fury might lose if he’s put in with one of Top Rank’s stable fighters. You would have to assume that Fury will be matched against one of Arum’s heavyweights. That means we could see Fury fighting someone like Joseph Parker, Bryant Jennings or Andy Ruiz. The only fighter out of that bunch that is known well enough to help Fury’s popularity to any great extent is former WBO heavyweight champion Parker, and he would be a very risky fight for Tyson. That’s no walk in the park for the 6’9″ Fury. Parker can punch. If Fury’s punch resistance isn’t what it once was due to his 12th round knockdown by Wilder from last December, he could get knocked out by Parker.
“If that takes each of them fighting another opponent first, then rolling them into a September fight, the money on the table then would be more than they can conceive of … that’s the way I look at it,” Arum said in continuing to discuss his idea of letting the Wilder vs. Fury rematch marinate.
Arum tried to marinate the Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa fight many years ago, and it blew up in his face when Orlando Salido came along and twice beat Juanma. Needless to say, the Lopez vs. Gamboa fight never happened. That should be lesson enough not to let fights marinate. There’s nothing wrong with bringing a fighter along slowly when they start out there career before putting them in with the best opposition, but in the case of Wilder, 33, and the 30-year-old Fury, it doesn’t apply. Those guys are both in their 30s, and have already have tons of experience. Fury already beat Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, and some feel that he also beat Wilder last December.
Delaying the Wilder vs. Fury rematch will also mean the fight against Anthony Joshua will also be delayed for Tyson. That’s not good for Fury, is it? The boxing public wants to see Fury face the unbeaten Joshua, who holds his IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO belts. Those were Fury’s titles in the past after he beat Wladimir in 2015.