Fightful Boxing Newsletter (2/21/2019) Table Of Contents:

  1. Tyson Fury Signs With Top Rank, ESPN (Page 1)
  2. Billy Joe Saunders Moves Up In Weight, To Challenge For WBO Super Middleweight Title (Page 2)
  3. Anthony Joshua vs. Jarrell Miller Set For June 1 At MSG (Page 3)
  4. Claressa Shields vs. Christina Hammer Finalized (Page 4)
  5. James DeGale vs. Chris Eubank Jr. Preview (Page 5)
  6. Anthony Dirrell vs. Avni Yildirim Preview (Page 6)
  7. USA Boxing Roundup (Page 7)
  8. Asian Boxing Roundup (Page 8)
  9. Matchroom Boxing USA in Mexico Preview (Page 9)

Tyson Fury Signs With Top Rank, ESPN

In the midst of what is starting to feel like a drawn-out negotiation battle, lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury put a wrench into a possible rematch against Deontay Wilder and signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank and ESPN.

The contract is a multi-year deal that calls for a minimum of two fights in the United States per year and his fights are going to be co-promoted by Top Rank Boxing and Queensberry Promotions.

While the signing is big for Top Rank and ESPN, which acquires one of the three biggest heavyweight stars in boxing today, it does present some problems between him and Wilder in regards to getting a deal done for a WBC heavyweight title bout.

The main issue that arose with the Fury-ESPN signing is that there is now a secondary battle between Top Rank Boxing/ESPN and PBC/Showtime. When the two boxers fought in December 2018, the U.S. broadcast was done in pay-per-view and produced on Showtime. After a relatively successful event in terms of buyrate (around 325,000 buys at roughly $75 per unit), everyone was under the assumption, including Wilder and co-manager Shelly Finkel, that the rematch would take place in May or June on a Showtime pay-per-view.

Now everything is up in the air.

More often than not, the reason why most big fights don’t happen today is because promoters and the network they are affiliated with are not willing to compromise and work towards making the fights fans want to see. From the promoter and network’s standpoint, allowing their own fighters to compete on other network would mean losing out on a lot of money by not having the fight on their broadcast platform.

From a business standpoint, it is understandable where they are coming from, but it hurts the sport nonetheless.

That isn’t to say the rematch between Wilder and Fury is impossible to make. The most direct way to get the fight underway is to go to a purse bid, but the date is still up in the air. The purse bid was suppose to take place in early February, but then it got delayed for February 12 only for it to get delayed once more. The reason why the purse bid was delayed twice was because it was believed that the two sides were close to a deal.

They may still be close to a deal, but now the added layer of battling networks could jeopardize the whole event. Now some may suggest that the two could work out some kind of deal, whether it would be ESPN airing the fight live on pay-per-view with Showtime getting the rights to air it on tape delay.

Such deals among promoters and networks are rare, but they have occurred before. Technically, the last time this happened was in August 2017 with the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, which was a joint event done by Showtime and UFC. But if we were to stick to strictly events between boxers, the two most recent examples are Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko in 2017 and Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao in 2015, both of which were HBO/Showtime joint ventures. Given that Bob Arum has also done several co-promotional fights with Don King since the 1970s as well as other promoters, there is hope that the fight can be salvaged.

But in today’s climate, nothing is a guarantee, especially in the heavyweight division. After all, we were certain that we would get Joshua vs. Wilder in 2017 and then in 2018 with nothing to show for. If Wilder vs. Fury 2 does not happen next, then it would be another blow to a division that has been teetering on the verge of a resurgence for years, but failed to do so due to the lack of fights between its three biggest stars (Joshua, Wilder and Fury).

Right now, it’s no longer about building up to the fight. There’s no need to wait for the fight for months. Fans want to see the fight now and anything less than Wilder vs. Fury 2 within the next couple of months will serve as a reminder of why boxing is still fighting to get back into the mainstream consciousness.

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