One of the most anticipated boxing matches in a while now will happen months later than originally planned. The third fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, which comes after a lot of initial wrangling and even an arbitrator ruling, and which was set to be a joint ESPN+/Fox Sports pay-per-view event on July 24, has now been moved to Oct. 9 following a COVID-19 outbreak in Fury’s camp. Here’s what new ESPN boxing writer Mike Coppinger wrote initially on the fight likely moving:
There’s a COVID-19 outbreak in Tyson Fury’s camp, which will inevitably cause his July 24 heavyweight championship fight against Deontay Wilder to be postponed, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
No official determination has yet been made on whether the fight, set to be held at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and broadcast on ESPN+ PPV, will proceed as planned.
The fight is a joint pay-per-view with FOX, and that network has the Manny Pacquiao-Errol Spence Jr. PPV on Aug. 21, so it’s likely Fury-Wilder 3 would be moved to September, sources told ESPN.
Update, July 15: As Coppinger writes, this included Fury himself testing positive for COVID-19, and the fight has now officially been rescheduled to October 9. It will still be at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.
There’s a lot of excitement out there around this fight, as it will be the first time that either Fury or Wilder has fought since their second meeting in February 2020 (seen above), a fight won by Fury. (The first fight between them, in December 2018, was ruled a draw.) Following that, Wilder exercised a contract option for a third fight, but COVID restrictions on crowds saw that being pushed later and later, and while last December was targeted, that went away thanks to ESPN and Fox’s college football commitments at that point. Fury then tried to set up a fight with Anthony Joshua instead, saying Wilder’s rematch clause had expired, but an arbitrator ruled in Wilder’s favor.
The fight also has had some odd moments in the lead-up, especially at a press conference last month. There, Wilder kept his headphones on throughout, delivering only an opening statement and deferring all questions to his trainer. Meanwhile, Fury offered to answer questions as Wilder. The two fighters then engaged in a strange and silent five-minute staredown:
Long … pretty silent … incredibly intense.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 15, 2021
So, there’s been a fair bit of anticipation building here, and a fair bit of excitement to see how the third fight between these two will go. Now, though, it looks like we’ll have to wait longer for that. This isn’t the only fight recently affected by the pandemic, either, as last month also saw the Teófimo López-George Kambosos Jr Triller Fight Club event moved to August following Lopez testing positive for COVID-19.
[ESPN; photo from Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports]