Bob Arum says the suggestion that he and his Top Rank outfit would not be either willing or able to do business with Shelly Finkel and Al Haymon is “absurd”.
There were immediate concerns among fight fans earlier this week when Tyson Fury signed a multi-fight deal with Top Rank and ESPN, with plenty of people fearing the deal meant a return fight between Fury and Deontay Wilder was now in jeopardy- what with Wilder fighting on Showtime under Al Haymon, whom Arum basically cannot stand.
Not so insists Arum. In speaking with ESPN yesterday, Arum said a “tremendous” offer will be sent to Wilder, as well as to Haymon and Shelly Finkel, and that the plan is for Fury and Wilder to defend their respective titles (Wilder the WBC boss, Fury the lineal champ) against as yet unannounced opposition, on ESPN this spring/early summer, and then fight the big rematch, on pay-per-view, around September time. Arum says Wilder would make big, big money – in the interim title defence and then even more cash in the Fury rematch.
“We are sending out an offer to Deontay Wilder which will also go to his manager Shelly Finkel and to his advisor Al Haymon, making this offer, which is a tremendous one, to do the fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder,” Arum stated. “The public deserves to see the best fights and if promoters can’t work together to make the best fights, shame on the promoters. We want to do this fight and we want to do it sensibly and correctly. If it can’t happen it can’t happen, but it’s Wilder’s choice subject to advice from his manager and advisor. ESPN+ will pay significant money for them to fight other fighters and then do the rematch on pay-per-view in the fall.”
It all sounds great, and Arum is to be commended for trying to make serious progress with regards to getting this rematch – one fight fans everywhere want to see ASAP – signed, sealed and delivered. It really does seem, in listening to Arum, that the ball is in Wilder’s court. Of course the folks at Showtime will not be too thrilled with Arum’s plans, and they will be even less pleased if Wilder, who has fought all his big fights on Showtime, does jump ship to ESPN.
But Wilder has to do what’s best for him. It’s a ruthless world, and boxing can be a ruthless sport. British great Ricky Hatton once put it best when he said the following: “If you want loyalty, buy a dog.”
Fight fans really do not care which platform the biggest and best fights appear on (subject to the price-tag they carry of course), as long as they do happen. And Arum seems to be doing what is best for the fans on this occasion. And Arum is flexible:
“It’s certainly not a deal breaker if they want to do the rematch next. Fury is happy either way,” Arum said.
So whether they fight each other next or in September after having had an interim fight each, there is a great chance Wilder and Fury WILL do battle once more this year. It seems it’s all down to the WBC heavyweight king and his team.