Deontay Wilder still will fight in May, just not against Tyson Fury or Anthony Joshua

Deontay Wilder connects with Tyson Fury during their WBC heavyweight championship match on Dec. 1 in Los Angeles.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Quick question to all those who were so fast and boisterous in hailing the charismatic and inspirational Tyson Fury as the clear scorecard winner of his Dec. 1 draw versus Deontay Wilder at Staples Center.

How’d you score what happened Tuesday?

Because when World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman announced that Wilder was still pressing for an immediate rematch, but Fury was not, the tie was broken.

“Fury knows what he got hit with. And he knows it happened in the 12th round, from a fellow who had been fighting all those rounds and still had the power to drop him like that,” Wilder manager Shelly Finkel said Tuesday by phone.


“[Fury] can be talking brave, he can say all this and that … but that had to be playing in his mind. And Deontay knew … he was saying all along to me, ‘We’ll see if he fights me.’”

Fury passed on what Finkel said was an agreement for a $17.5-million guarantee to fight May 18, either at Barclays Center in New York or in Las Vegas.

“A week and a half ago, we thought we were close to having a deal done,” Finkel said. “In the first fight, [Fury] wanted 50 percent [of the purse money] and a large guarantee … we gave it to him. All we asked for was a rematch. We didn’t ask to tie him up, or to wait a fight — nothing like the silliness we were getting from Fury now.”

Fury instead struck a co-promotion deal with Top Rank, aligned with its broadcast partner ESPN, agreeing to fight at least twice in the U.S. this year, and Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum ultimately presented a four-fight deal to Wilder, according to Finkel.


“The first fight wasn’t even with Fury,” Finkel said. “We asked, ‘Why would we want to sign with you?’ We have the champion.”

The revived heavyweight division became further fractured with Fury’s stunning shift, after three-belt heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua declined to fight Wilder last year. That leaves the hard-hitting American Wilder as the champion who has claimed victory in the all-important fight for public perception.

Fury will fight someone underwhelming that Top Rank will find him for an ESPN broadcast. The new streaming service DAZN will continue its search for a foothold in the U.S. market by hawking Joshua’s June 1 U.S. debut against barely known Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller at Madison Square Garden.

Wilder, meanwhile, will shrug and keep his May 18 fight date, most likely against Southern California’s former heavyweight title challenger Dominic Breazeale on Showtime.


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“I was surprised by [Fury’s] ESPN deal. I wasn’t that surprised today,” Finkel said.

Ratings and subscription buys will determine where the heavyweights go from here, and Wilder’s position is the pole because he has more name recognition than anyone who can enter the ring against both Fury or Joshua.

And, judging by their choices, the Yank’s fitness and power clearly intimidate the Brits.


Could Wilder still fight Fury this year?

“I’m hopeful of it, yes,” Finkel said. “I’m an optimist. In this sport, if I was a pessimist, I wouldn’t be in it any more.

“You live long enough with it, though, and you’ve seen things … so I’m hopeful people will get the Fury fight, and when they ask, ‘Do you want to see that again?’ everyone will say no, and [Top Rank/ESPN] will say, ‘Let’s make the fight.’”


Twitter: @latimespugmire