The first significant heavyweight championship trilogy of the 21st century is slated to take place in a summer showdown in Sin City.
After Deontay Wilder lost via technical knockout to Tyson Fury, the Alabamian boxer has exercised has right to a rematch against newly crowned World Boxing Council and lineal champion Fury, and a third fight between the two heavyweights is being planned for July 18 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, according to Top Rank head Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter.
“We received a letter from Wilder’s team on Friday night, and we agreed with the networks and the hotel that July 18 was the optimal date,” Arum said. “We had a seamless promotion last time with Al Haymon, PBC [Premier Boxing Champions] and Fox. We look forward to working with them again.”
Fury battered and bruised Wilder through all seven rounds Feb. 22 at the MGM Grand, forcing Wilder’s corner to throw in the towel. The contract for the sequel contained a bilateral clause that gave the losing fighter a 30-day window to ask for a rematch and for it to take place by July.
The Fury and Wilder fight will be yet another Fox and ESPN pay-per-view event, marking the second time both networks have cooperated to put on a boxing showcase. Their first foray, an unprecedented cross-platform partnership, yielded nearly 800,000 PPV buys.
Arum previously was open to staging the third fight in October, with Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders’ new home in Las Vegas, being one of the venues under consideration. Arum also wanted to take advantage of the NFL calendar and the promotional opportunities Fox and ESPN would provide, but the sides have punted on that idea, at least for now, to take advantage of a window in which the major sports calendar is on the slow side.
“If there was a glorious reason to move the date, and it made financial sense, I don’t think anyone would care if it took place [after July 18],” Arum said. “I don’t blame Wilder for taking the rematch immediately and fighting again by the summer instead of eating himself up and brewing for months about the loss.”
Wilder and Fury had a 50-50 split in purses for the second fight, but Fury will break the bank a bit better with a 60-40 pay advantage in the third fight, per the previous contract that was signed ahead of the rematch. The three markets the contract called for the third fight to be staged in were Las Vegas, New York or Los Angeles.
The first Wilder and Fury encounter in 2018, a controversial split-decision draw at Staples Center, netted roughly 325,000 buys on premium cable provider Showtime.
Another Fury and Wilder meeting will mirror the glory days of heavyweight trilogies in boxing.
It will join the likes of Muhammad Ali versus Joe Frazier as well as Ali versus Ken Norton from the 1970s; Evander Holyfield versus Riddick Bowe from the 1990s; Holyfield versus John Ruiz from the 2000s; and the three Ingemar Johansson versus Floyd Patterson fights from 1959 to 1961.