Tyson Fury's world heavyweight trilogy title contest with Deontay Wilder has been postponed from July 18 to October or November in Las Vegas. The rescheduling was confirmed to Telegraph Sport on Wednesday by promoters Bob Arum and Frank Warren.
Fury claimed the World Boxing Council title from Wilder on February 22, becoming an undefeated two-time world champion. They drew, controversially, in their first meeting, in Los Angeles in December 2018.
Warren's other major heavyweight showdown between rising heavyweight stars Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce, initially scheduled for April 11, has been moved to the O2 Arena, London, on July 18, if the coronavirus pandemic allows for it to proceed.
Arum, speaking from his home in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, where the 88 year old is in lockdown, told Telegraph Sport. "It’s off [on July 18 in Las Vegas]. I mean look, if we were doing it, we were doing it at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and the MGM is closed. As is every other casino and hotel in Las Vegas."
"By the time this [pandemic] is over and they get back to operating, the last thing they’ll be thinking about is going a major event and bringing in people from all over the world to watch the event. It’s not realistic. The Wilder fight with Fury, if it takes place, certainly wouldn’t take place before the fall — if then."
Arum insisted that the fight may even be delayed longer, given that both boxers will need to go into camp for several weeks leading into the fight, and will require sparring partners. "I’m not a medical genius, I don’t know when this is going to be over. If we listen to our freaking US President, he’s going to have everyone back in work by Easter, which means we’ll really get a pandemic that nobody has seen before. There will be millions of people coming down with this, many of whom will die."
There has been the suggestion put forward that certain fights could be held behind closed doors. But that now seems unlikely. "We tried that, when this first occurred and our March events were jeopardised, we thought we’d get the Michael Conlan fight in The Garden in New York without an audience. It became impracticable because how do you protect the doctors and everyone else? How do you get the test kits? There weren’t enough tests kits. We tried that and discussed that, it became impossible."
He explained: "We abandoned all of that. We might revisit it in the future, but the problem is testing. You can’t allow fights or events to happen with no spectators if you can’t test the participants — and the doctors, and the judges and the referees. You can’t do that unless you have the ability to test everybody. Now they’re saying there are tests where you can get the results within 45 minutes, well let’s see. Let’s see if those tests become available. If that happens and we do it in a closed space with no spectators and you know everyone in that room has been tested, then conceivably, you could do these events. But right now, the answer is you can’t."
Rival promoter Eddie Hearn has also suggested that the Fury-Wilder trilogy fight could be expedited for Fury to face Anthony Joshua next but Warren ruled that out, certainly for now. "Wilder has triggered his rematch clause and we have to honour that. Right now, that is the plan. Fury will fight face Wilder next," Warren told Telegraph Sport on Wednesday.
Arum concurred. "All I’m saying is contracts are contracts, and Wilder has the option for the third fight and he’s exercised that option. Therefore, while everything is possible, the one thing is not possible is to violate a contractual commitment. I would say right now there is no chance that Fury would fight anybody other than Wilder next. But, things change. Down the line, who knows? But right now the answer is no. The answer is Joshua has an obligation to fight Kubrat Pulev."
Arum, who also promotes Pulev, who was scheduled to meet Joshua on June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium — a fight that has now been postponed — added: "The idea that Joshua would go right to a Fury fight is off the table. Now, it is conceivable they [Wilder and Pulev] step aside, but again nobody should be discussing any of that until we know we can put fights on. You’re not going to do a Fury fight without spectators, whoever he fights.’
Both Arum and Warren, who have cancelled 12 boxing events due to the coronavirus, are in agreement with the government lockdown. Arum, however, is incensed with President Trump. "It is moronic to think that we will all by back by Easter, and working. He should have taken a leaf out of Prime Minister Johnson's decision, and ordered a halt to everything but essential services. These are different times. The whole timetable has been thrown into a loop. To make predictions now about what will happen in boxing with any certainty is foolish. We don’t even know if this will be solved by the end of this year. Forget about who is fighting who right now.