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Deontay Wilder targeting May 18 for next fight says Finkel

Deontay Wilder Tyson Fury Dominic Breazeale Shelly Finkel Wilder vs. Breazeale

By Mike Smith: Deontay Wilder’s co-manager Shelly Finkel still plans on having him fight on May 18 despite the Top Rank Boxing promoted Tyson Fury electing to pull out of negotiations for that fight, and instead of taking an interim fight. Finkel is looking an opponent for Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) to defend his World Boxing Council heavyweight title against on the May 18 date.


It’s no secret that WBC mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) is almost sure to be the guy that Wilder defends against in next fight on the 18th of May. The WBC recently ordered Breazeale to fight for their interim heavyweight title against #1 ranked WBC contender Dillian ‘The Body Snatcher’ Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs), but they’re expected to cancel that order now that the Wilder will no longer be facing Fury next in a rematch. That means Wilder will be defending his title against Breazeale. There’s little choice for Wilder but to take that fight, because his mandatory defense is due already. Whyte can’t force Wilder to make his next defense against him, being that he’s not the WBC mandatory challenger. He’s just the #1 ranked contender with the organization, which means nothing considering that he failed to agree to fight in a title eliminator when the WBC wanted him to. Breazeale took the eliminator instead, and defeated Eric Molina to earn the WBC mandatory spot.

Fury is expected to face former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker in his interim fight. If Fury fights Parker, and Wilder defends against Breazeale, that’s going to setup a situation where two of Anthony Joshua’s former victims wills be fighting in the interim fights. Joshua already beat Breazeale and Parker, so there’s no gain for Wilder and Fury to be facing them. Wilder obviously has no choice but to fight Breazeale due to him being his mandatory challenger with the WBC, but Fury has a choice or maybe he doesn’t have a choice. Top Rank co-promotes Parker, so they’re obviously going to want to put him in with Fury for in an house fight.

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Top Rank made a multi-fight offer to get Wilder to sign with them. If Wilder signed with Top Rank, there’s a chance that his next fight would be against Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) instead of both guys having to take an interim match in between. But it doesn’t appear that Wilder is going to agree to the deal offered to him by Top Rank, so the heavyweight are going to have to wait until the fall for the two of them to face each other in the rematch.


“He will fight in May and we will announce it shortly,” Finkel said to ESPN.com. “May 18 is our preference. We will know Friday or Monday and then we will announce his next plan. Hopefully, we will get the next fight after that.”

If Top Rank and ESPN still want Fury to try and build his name in the U.S by taking additional interim fights after his next one, then Wilder will need to move on and consider it a situation where there’s no true interest from them in making the second fight. From Top Rank’s perspective, they’ve signed Fury, and they need to turn him into a star in order for him to make the most money possible. If they throw Fury in with Wilder now with him coming off a bad knockdown in the 12th round last December, he might lose right away once Deontay hits him hard for the first time. To turn Fury into a star, Top Rank needs to be careful with how they match him. Hence, we’re not seeing the Wilder vs. Fury II rematch on May 18, and we may not see the two of them face each other in the fall either.

Wilder, 33, wanted to take the immediate rematch with the 6’9″ Fury so that the two of them could show the boxing world who the better fighter is. Their previous fight on December 1 left a lot of boxing fans unhappy with the way it ended in a controversial draw. Fury’s fans think he should have been given the victory due to him out-boxing Wilder for 10 of the 12 rounds. However, Wilder has an argument that he had a knockout taken away from him by the referee, who gave a count to Fury while he appeared to be out cold in the 12th after getting dropped. Even in the rounds that Fury was out-boxing Wilder, the much harder blows were landed by Deontay. Given that judges tend to put more weight on the cleaner landing shots over the weaker variety, you can argue that Wilder deserved the decision victory based on the much harder punches he was landing during the fight.

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If Wilder were to ink with Top Rank, there still wouldn’t be a guarantee that he fights Fury next unless that was one of the conditions for him signing with them. Having Wilder as part of the Top Rank stable would be huge for the American promotional company.

Until recently, it was thought that Wilder and Fury would quickly wrap up their negotiations for the May 18 rematch, and get it over with. However, Fury threw a wrench into the works by signing a co-promotional deal with Top Rank Boxing a week ago. Everything has changed now. Fury will be fighting on ESPN, and it’s believed they Top Rank wants to help build up their ESPN+ app by having Tyson fight his interim match on that platform to bring in a lot of subscribers. If Top Rank were to go ahead with the Wilder vs. Fury II rematch right away, that fight would be televised on ESPN pay-per-view, and it wouldn’t help the ESPN+ platform to get off the ground. It works well for ESPN if Top Rank has Fury fighting as many of his matches as possible on ESPN+ in order to bring in the subcribers. Whether the subscribers would choose to stay with ESPN+ after seeing Fury’s fights would depend on how good he performs, and more importantly on the quality of other fights that Top Rank will be putting on.

Top Rank has Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford signed with their promotional company, but they’re not exciting sluggers. They’re more finesse level fighters, who move around the ring, jabbing, changing fighting stance, and focusing more on befuddling their opponents. They might not be nearly exciting enough to keep the subscribers that Fury brings in to the ESPN+ platform. Fury is probably not the right guy for Top Rank to have signed to have a fighter help with ESPN+. They would be better off signing an exciting fighter like middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin rather than a boxer, mover, spoiler type of heavyweight like Fury, who can be VERY boring to watch.

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Fury made the Wilder boring to watch for a lot of boxing fans last December. That’s why it was surprising that Top Rank chose to put their money into signing Fury rather than GGG, who was still without a platform recently after HBO went out of the boxing business. Golovkin had been signed with HBO for a number of years. After they dropped out of broadcasting boxing, Triple G was set adrift, without a TV broadcaster to show his fights. It was the perfect situation for Top Rank and ESPN to snatch up Golovkin to help bring in the subscribers to ESPN+. Instead, Top Rank signs the British heavyweight Fury, who the U.S casual boxing fans have never heard of, and who has a fighting style that is less than eye pleasing.

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