It wouldn’t be a boxing news conference without pushing and profanity. Both and more were there in a final news conference Wednesday, four days before the first punches land at the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury rematch.
Wilder shoved Fury across the stage. Fury shoved back. The inevitable insults followed. Hide the kids.
What could have been ugly, however, ended in peace.
Promoter Bob Arum made sure of it.
“No faceoff, no faceoff,” Arum said from his seat near the stage just as the last few expletives echoed through the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Arum couldn’t risk it. Too much pay-per-view money is at stake for the fight Saturday night on ESPN and Fox. Too much potential too. For a battered game always trying to fight its way back into the mainstream, any chance at a cancellation from a brawl during the ritual eye-to-eye, nose-to-broken-nose pose just wasn’t worth it.
“The first part of this news conference was atrocious, kind of like watching one of these debates,” Arum said a few hours before the Democrats staged a presidential debate a few blocks down the strip.
In Wilder-Fury 2, Arum is betting on a winner for his books and perhaps for the balkanized boxing business. A rematch to a draw about 15 months ago in Staples Center has been a joint venture between rival networks and promotional entities, Arum’s Top Rank and Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Cooperation isn’t unprecedented in boxing, but it’s unusual. Deals get broken as often as jaws. It happened here, however, because of controversy in the first fight, the dramatic power in Wilder’s right hand, Fury’s compelling story and an apparent demand from fans for a rematch.
“I’m the only one, a Brit who could bring two American networks and two rival promoters together,” Fury said.
A cooperative venture on a couple of levels could be worth huge money for both fighters. Arum declined to disclose a lot of the numbers, including the guarantees for each heavyweight. But he said Fury has a chance to get more than $40 million. The fighters are paid through their respective promoters. Fury is with Top Rank in a promotional partnership with Britain’s Frank Warren. Wilder is tied to PBC.
“It’s a 50-50 deal between our promotion and Wilder’s promotion,” said Arum, who added that working with PBC might open the door to other possibilities, including welterweight and pound-for-pound leader Terence Crawford of Top Rank in a long-speculated showdown with Errol Spence Jr., a PBC fighter.
Since Wilder-Fury 2 was announced in late December, Arum has said 2 million pay-per-view buys were possible. He repeated that hope Wednesday.
The optimistic projection, he said, would be split evenly between the United States and Britain.
“I’ve talked to Frank Warren and he thinks it could hit 1 million, even at 4 a.m. [Sunday] in England,” Arum said. “If those numbers hit with another 1 million in the U.S., I know that my guy [Fury] would get well over $40 million.”
Arum said the $40 million was not a guarantee. It’s just the potential purse. He also declined to say what Wilder could collect. He said he didn’t know the specifics of Wilder’s deal with PBC.
“But, again, what Fury and Wilder will wind up with will depend, essentially, on the U.S. and U.K. pay-per-view,” Arum said not long after he made sure that a foolish brawl would not eliminate it all.