The expected immediate rematch between heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury won’t happen next.
With a purse bid looming, a deal for a rematch was nearly complete when Fury unexpectedly signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank last week that would bring his fights to ESPN platforms. There remained hope the rematch would still be next, with Top Rank offering promotional free agent Wilder a multifight deal that would consider an immediate rematch or a scenario where both fighters would have interim bouts this spring or summer before facing each other again in the fall.
The WBC, which sanctions the belt held by Wilder, set a Wednesday night deadline to hear from the camps on how they planned to proceed with the rematch it had ordered.
On Tuesday, the answer came: Fury decided not to fight Wilder next and will instead fight an opponent to be determined in May or June on ESPN+. Fury still hopes to face Wilder again before the end of the year.
Once that was made clear, Wilder co-manager Shelly Finkel told ESPN his fighter would make his next defense this spring, likely on May 18, against an opponent to be determined, most likely on either Showtime or Fox — the two outlets that Wilder co-manager Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions has deals with.
Top Rank president Todd duBoef emailed WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman and Wilder’s team on Tuesday afternoon to inform them of the decision.
“We’ve spoken to Tyson and he has made the decision to go forward with another fight and to address a Wilder rematch after that,” duBoef wrote in the email, which was copied to Fury and obtained by ESPN. “We all appreciate the WBC and the tremendous role it has played in Tyson’s career and hope the WBC will remain involved.”
DuBoef declined to comment further to ESPN.
Shortly after receiving duBoef’s email, Sulaiman responded to him and the others copied on the original email.
“The WBC has received the official position from both sides regarding the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury rematch,” Sulaiman wrote in the email, which was also obtained by ESPN. “While Deontay Wilder confirmed that his only interest was to honor the WBC mandate for a rematch against Tyson Fury, Tyson Fury has confirmed that he would take a fight against a different opponent in his immediate future, hoping that after such, a rematch with Wilder can be considered. Consequently, the WBC is hereby cancelling the Wilder vs. Fury rematch mandate and process. We wish the best of luck to both fighters.”
Fury posted to social media Tuesday afternoon.
He tagged Wilder in the tweet and elicited an angry response from him.
“You sorry muthaf—-. We knew you only said this [because] you knew you wasn’t fighting me next,” Wilder wrote. “You requested a warm-up fight first. I don’t blame you. I probably would too if I saw my brains splashed all over the canvas.”