Tyson Fury has scaled boxing’s mountain top, and has been preparing to cement his place among the sport’s pound-for-pound greats with another win over Deontay Wilder. But there’s one opponent the lineal and WBC heavyweight champion can’t fight in the ring: COVID-19.
A coronavirus outbreak in Fury’s training camp is threatening to push back the date of his third fight against Wilder, though organizers have yet to make any changes to the bout.
Top Rank says fight still on — for now
Fury and Wilder planned to fight on July 24 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. ESPN reported that the COVID-19 outbreak will “inevitably” delay the fight, according to sources. Top Rank Boxing pushed back on that characterization, however.
“We continue to monitor the health status of Tyson and his team, and the status of the event has not changed to date,” Top Rank said in a statement released Thursday.
It’s unclear how many members of the Fury team have tested positive for COVID-19. ESPN’s Mike Coppinger reported that the fight will likely move to September if necessary. Neither Fury nor Wilder has commented on the situation.
Fury and Wilder have fought twice before. In December 2018, Fury outboxed Wilder for most of the night, but Wilder scored two knockdowns – including a dramatic near-knockout in the 12th round – in a bout that ended in a draw.
Fury stopped Wilder in second fight
The two fought a rematch in February 2020. This time, Fury scored two knockdowns on his way to a seventh-round TKO. Cornerman Mark Breland threw in the towel to stop the fight, a move Wilder protested vehemently.
That was the last time either man stepped into the ring. Wilder invoked a rematch clause in the second fight’s contract, and the two planned to meet again late last year. Organizers rejected that October bout due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the college football season interfered with many other pay-per-view dates, scuttling a December fight.
At that point, Fury attempted to move on and schedule a fight with fellow British heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. The sides agreed to a two-fight deal that would likely crown an undisputed heavyweight champion. But Wilder obtained a ruling from an independent arbitrator who said that the rematch clause is still in effect. That led the two sides to schedule the upcoming fight.
Fury stands as a -335 favorite over Wilder (+225) in the third fight, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.