- 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism
- ESPN.com boxing writer since 2005
- Five years at USA Today
Former heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder has officially exercised his right to an immediate third fight with Tyson Fury.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter, told ESPN on Sunday that the plan is for the fight to take place July 18 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, the same location that hosted the rematch on Feb. 22.
In the much-hyped sequel, Fury, the lineal champion, claimed Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title when he knocked him down twice — in the third round with a right hand to the head and with a body shot in the fifth round — and stopped him in the seventh round when Wilder co-trainer Mark Breland threw in the towel as Fury was pounding Wilder.
Wilder and Fury had previously fought a controversial draw in their first fight in December 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. When they made the rematch it was a two-fight deal with the loser having the right to have an immediate third fight if they wanted. Right after Wilder lost the rematch he said he would “definitely” go ahead and pick up his option for a third fight, and now he has officially.
“Now we will sit down and go through all the details for the fight,” Arum said, adding that the task would fall largely to Top Rank president Todd duBoef and Bruce Binkow of Premier Boxing Champions. Before Wilder made it official, Arum said he was open to shifting the third fight to the fall if that is what Wilder and PBC wanted. But on Sunday he said the fight would indeed be July 18 and that it again would be a joint pay-per-view between ESPN, Top Rank’s broadcaster, and Fox, one of PBC’s broadcasters.
“We realized that date was the favorite of both ESPN and Fox because it comes at a dead time in sports, which is good for the fight,” he said. “It’s after the basketball playoffs, baseball is in the middle of the season and there’s no football. It’s the ideal time. The hotel, MGM Grand, also believes it to be an ideal time.”
Arum said that contractually the fight had to be in either Las Vegas, New York or Los Angeles, but that Las Vegas made the most sense for that time of year. Arum said he was not surprised Wilder went through with picking up his option.
“I figured he would do it because I have had enough experience with rematches to know that anything can happen and guys can change their strategy and want the opportunity to (avenge) the loss,” Arum said.
Shelly Finkel, Wilder’s co-manager, confirmed the decision to go forward with the third fight. “We did exercise it,” Finkel told ESPN. “We want to fight Fury next and we wanted to make sure we sent the letter and that it was done.”
Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs), 34, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had 25 days from the end of the second fight to formally notify Top Rank and Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs), 31, of his decision. The Feb. 22 fight was a 50-50 deal but with Fury having won it flips to a 60-40 split in Fury’s favor for the third fight.
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