Fury-Wilder III to be postponed with October date mooted
The third instalment of the world heavyweight rivalry between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will not take place as scheduled in July, and could be rescheduled for October, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Bob Arum, the head of leading boxing promoter Top Rank, has said.
The UK's Fury defeated USA’s Wilder in their rematch in Las Vegas last month to win the WBC title, following a draw between the pair in their first encounter in 2018.
Wilder exercised a rematch clause in his contract and a third fight was quickly pencilled in for 18 July.
However, with travel between the UK and the USA suspended as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus, Arum, Fury’s co-promoter alongside Frank Warren, has admitted the fight cannot go ahead at the MGM Grand on that date.
When asked by ESPN if the fight would take place on the scheduled date, Arum said: “Clearly not. We don’t even know if the MGM will even be open by then. You could not guarantee the fighters that the event would take place on that date. We couldn’t convince them or ourselves.
“Where were they going to train for it? It just made no sense. You just have to take a step back. How are you going to sell tickets? It’s absolutely ridiculous to say the fight is on when the Brits can’t even get there.”
The 22 February rematch in Las Vegas generated record gate receipts of over $16.8 million as a large contingent of Fury fans travelled to USA.
Arum said: “Everybody has to take a step back. Boxing is not isolated. It’s part of what’s happening in the world. So possibly the fight will be in early October.”
Meanwhile, promoter Eddie Hearn, who heads up the Matchroom Boxing agency, has warned many fighters will be forced to leave the sport due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
The British Boxing Board of Control this week extended the suspension of all boxing events until at least May, with several big fights already cancelled.
Hearn, whose stable includes Anthony Joshua, the holder of various world heavyweight titles, believes this will result in many boxers departing the sport and seeking other ways of earning money.
He told BBC Sport: "The coronavirus is going to have a massive impact on every business, particularly boxing. If this drags on to September, October, November, December we will have fighters that have not boxed this year.
"The fighters at the top end are going to be fine but the fighters coming through, small hall fighters, ones starting their careers or those who do not have a sponsorship deal face big concerns.
"They will have to give up the sport of boxing and get a job… If there are no events, the companies are not making money and the athletes are not getting prize money. We will see a lot of fighters have to give up the sport of boxing at a lower level because there is no income. "
Hearn is hopeful that boxing events can return in “mid or late summer,” but admitted “no-one knows.”
Matchroom’s next scheduled major event is the bout between the UK’s Dilian Whyte and Russia’s Alexander Povetkin on 2 May but that appears unlikely to go ahead.