Heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder and former world champion Tyson Fury finalized their deal Friday night, and Premier Boxing Champions announced the fight would take place Dec. 1.
It was a highly unusual announcement with a news release touting that “the contracts are signed and the fight is on,” and that the fight would be televised on pay-per-view. However, it did not specify that it would be Showtime PPV, the broadcaster that will carry the fight, and there was also no announcement of a site.
Multiple sources have told ESPN the site has not been finalized and that the fight will take place either at the Staples Center in Los Angeles or at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
Also unusual about the announcement — in addition to its coming on a Friday night — was that it came on the eve of unified heavyweight world titleholder Anthony Joshua’s title defense against Alexander Povetkin, which will take place Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London. Joshua and Fury are both from England, but Saturday’s major fight figures to completely overshadow the announcement of Wilder-Fury.
The news release said that Wilder and Fury would embark on a three-city media tour to promote the event. It will kick off in London on Oct. 1, followed by stops in New York and Los Angeles on dates that were not specified.
“More details on the location, venue and the on-sale ticket information for the heavyweight championship battle will be released next week,” according to the release.
Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs), 32, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had hoped to meet Joshua this fall for the undisputed heavyweight world championship and he had accepted a $15 million flat fee to travel to the United Kingdom to face him. However, Joshua and his promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, ultimately elected to go for a deal with Povetkin, one of Joshua’s mandatory challengers. Joshua-Povetkin is a fight that pales in comparison to the public interest and money a fight with Wilder would generate.
“Just signed my portion of the contract of the Wilder versus Fury fight. It is officially on, ladies and gentlemen,” Wilder said in a video posted to his Instagram page. “This fight is definitely on and I can’t wait, man. It’s going to be an exciting fight; it’s going to be an explosive fight. It’s going to be one for the legacy, definitely one for my legacy. You got the WBC heavyweight champion of the world versus the lineal champion.
“It’s going to be a pleasure: the two best heavyweights competing against each other. The best fighting the best, giving the people what they want, and this is what we’re doing. I just beat, in my opinion, one of the best heavyweights in Luis Ortiz [by 10th-round knockout on March 3], and now I’m going for the next best in the heavyweight division.”
Fury also made his own Instagram video and addressed Wilder.
“Well, s— just got serious. I just signed my end of the deal and the contract for the Wilder fight. It’s signed, sealed and delivered,” Fury said. “Deontay Wilder, you’re going to get it, mate. You’re in big trouble. I’ve never met a man I couldn’t beat in a boxing ring or outside it. I know you’ve got a big punch, I know you’re big, I know you’ve got a big mouth and I know you want to win but you don’t want it like I do. You can’t beat me. I will out-heart you. I will force my will upon you until you quit. I promise.”
The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Wilder will be making his eighth title defense when he takes on Fury (27-0, 19 KOs), 30, who is seen by many as still the lineal champion because he never lost any of his belts in the ring.
After Fury outpointed Wladimir Klitschko to win three major world title belts and the lineal title in November 2015, Fury didn’t fight again for 31 months. During that time, he was stripped of his titles and dealt with numerous personal issues, including drug and alcohol addiction — he tested positive for cocaine in two drug tests that forced the rematch with Klitschko to be canceled — and mental health issues.
The 6-9, 260-pound Fury has won two fights since his return to the ring, stopping blown-up cruiserweight Sefer Seferi in a farcical mismatch on June 9 followed by a shutout 10-round decision over former world title challenger Francesco Pianeta on Aug. 18.
Wilder and Fury have a history together. After Wilder knocked out Artur Szpilka in the ninth round to retain his title in January 2016 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Fury jumped into the ring and confronted Wilder nose-to-nose, WWE style.
For the fight with Pianeta, Fury walked to the ring to the song “Sweet Home Alabama,” an homage to Wilder’s beloved home state, and after the fight, Wilder, who was ringside, came into the ring as both were interviewed and boasted they would fight each other and that he would win by knockout.
“Oh, we’re ready now. This fight will happen. It’s on! This is on! This fight is official. It’s on, baby,” Wilder roared.
Fury responded, “You know, we are two men that will fight anybody. This man has been trying to make a big fight with the other chump [Joshua]. They called, I answered. I said send me the contract, they sent the contract, I said yes. And now, he gets his chance to fight the lineal heavyweight champion of the world. I got my rounds here tonight, 10 rounds, but one thing I promise … is I’m knocking you the f— out!”
Wilder then answered back, “I can’t wait to fight you, because I am gonna knock you out. This I promise you. Every victim that has stepped in the ring, I done knocked them out in devastating fashion. You’ve never been knocked out, but you’re gonna feel the experience, what it feels to get hit by the ‘Bronze Bomber.'”
Fury promoter Frank Warren also said that night in the ring that the fight would happen, adding that it would take a few days to work everything out. It wound up taking more than a month, during which time a member of Fury’s management team told ESPN that there were internal discussions about Fury possibly having another tune-up fight before taking such a big step up against Wilder.
However, Fury always maintained he would fight Wilder next and that he did not need another fight first, and on Friday, they finally got the deal done.