It took all year for Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua to agree on a time and date for their history-making match. Both sides postured, grandstanded, and blamed the other for not getting a contract signed. Both boxers claimed that the other was afraid of them. Eventually, after more than six months of protracted negotiations, the fight to unify the various versions of boxing’s heavyweight championship of the world was agreed upon. The two British fighters were to meet in Saudi Arabia on August 14th this year. It would likely have been the first of two or possibly three matches between the pair, who may both have retired after their battles were over.
The choice of Saudi Arabia as a host nation didn’t exactly thrill everybody – especially British boxing fans, who are angry that the biggest-ever fight between British boxers wouldn’t be happening in their home country – but it promised to be an enormous sporting occasion. The Saudis promised to build a brand new boxing arena purely to stage the event. Tyson Fury promised the show of a lifetime. There would likely have been a high-calibre supporting card, musical performances, and the biggest prize purse in boxing history. It would be no exaggeration to say that this would have been the biggest boxing match of the 21st century so far. No sooner had it all been agreed, though, it’s gone up in smoke. There’s only one person to blame for that.
All the while that Fury and Joshua (or rather their representatives) have been negotiating with each other, Deontay Wilder has been lurking in the background, licking his wounds. Having drawn his first fight with Fury and been stopped in his second, he feels like he’s entitled to a rematch for the world championship belt that Fury took from him. At one point, he was contractually guaranteed one. The rematch should have taken place in 2020, but Wilder’s camp let the rematch clause expire by failing to get the match agreed within the specified time limit. Once that happened, Fury’s camp believed the matter was over and dealt with. That turned out not to be the case. A court has ruled in Wilder’s favour, and Fury must now face Wilder by no later than September 15th or face further legal action. A single month would not be sufficient for Fury to recover from his fight with Joshua and focus on Wilder. Unless a deal can be agreed for Wilder to step aside – possibly with a promise of facing the winner – Joshua versus Fury will be off the cards again.
Based on the tone of the rhetoric coming from Fury and the people around him, Wilder won’t be made such an offer. Fury claims that Wilder’s representatives have already been in touch with him, asking for twenty million dollars to stand aside and let the Joshua fight happen – an exorbitant figure that Fury’s team isn’t willing to pay. Fury would rather fight Wilder again and put a conclusive end to the saga than part with so much cash to get him out of the way. Because of that, it now seems inevitable that the biggest fight of this year will be Fury – Wilder III, and Joshua might have to fill his time by fighting another opponent. A clash with fellow Brit Dillian Whyte might fit the bill, with Oleksandr Usyk also a possibility. These would be big fights if they were to happen but won’t get close to the level of the money-making spectacle that Fury vs Joshua would have been.
Wilder’s interjection in the affair won’t sit well with most boxing fans. The majority of impartial observers agree that Fury outboxed him in their first encounter, and Wilder was extremely lucky to come away with a draw rather than a defeat. Their second fight wasn’t close. Fury bullied and battered Wilder from round one to round seven, sending the Bronze Bomber crashing to the canvas twice and eventually persuading his corner to throw in the towel. Since then, Wilder has done little other than whine and complain. He claimed his ring costume was too heavy and tired him out before the first bell. He fired his trainer. He baselessly claimed that Fury wore illegal gloves even though the gloves were inspected by the Nevada State Athletic Commission prior to the contest. There is little reason to believe that Wilder is capable of beating Fury unless Fury overlooks him because his mind is still on Joshua.
The predictability of the outcome is the whole problem with the idea of a third Fury – Wilder fight. Boxing is all about great lineups and unpredictable outcomes. In that respect, it’s a lot like an online slots game. The whole reason that people play online slots – other than the desire to win money from them – is the thrill of the unknown and the possibility that anything can happen on your next spin. To get the best possible payout from one of the online slots at Rose Slots New Zealand, though, you need the perfect combination of high-paying symbols. In this instance, the best combination of “symbols” is Fury and Joshua. Wilder’s star has faded. He’s no longer a high-paying symbol. The combination of Fury and Wilder isn’t going to land a jackpot however you spin it, and money will be left on the table by abandoning the long-awaited showdown between Fury and Joshua. If it doesn’t happen now, it might never happen at all.
Deontay Wilder almost certainly won’t beat Tyson Fury at the third time of asking. He’s used a legal mechanism to land himself a fight that he probably can’t win. In the process, he’s ruined an all-star fight that millions of boxing fans have been waiting years for. If no deal is done to make him step aside and the Fury vs Joshua contest is, as many people fear, doomed to be cancelled, Fury will have even more fans than usual cheering him on when he and Wilder meet again in the ring. A lot of angry Joshua fans will want to see Wilder punished and will lend their support to Fury for the night. We suspect several thousand impartial boxing fans will do the same. Deontay Wilder’s time as an elite-level fighter is over. It now falls to Tyson Fury to prove that once and for all.