Lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and promoter Frank Warren have signed a deal under which Fury will be co-promoted by Top Rank, they announced Monday.
Fury will have his future bouts co-promoted by Top Rank and Warren's Queensberry Promotions, with the deal calling for a minimum of two bouts per year in the United States, according to their agreement. That means Fury's bouts will appear on ESPN platforms. The network and Top Rank have a multiyear deal.
"I'm delighted that Frank and Queensberry Promotions have teamed up with Top Rank to promote my fights in America," Fury said. "With ESPN and [British broadcaster] BT Sport behind me, the biggest sports platforms in the world are now linked up with the best heavyweight in the world."
Top Rank and Warren already made an earlier deal for most of Warren's United Kingdom cards to stream on ESPN+ in the United States.
What the deal with Fury means for the prospect of his rematch with world titleholder Deontay Wilder is unclear.
"Top Rank is very excited to enter into the promotional arrangement along with Queensberry Promotions for the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury," Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. "He is a generational heavyweight talent at the peak of his powers. We also look forward to our growing relationship with [Fury manager] MTK Global, which represents so many world-class fighters."
Said Warren: "This is a great move for Tyson Fury and a great move for Queensberry Promotions. By partnering with ESPN and Top Rank in America, we're giving our boxers, including Tyson, the opportunity to perform on the biggest and most powerful platforms on both sides of the Atlantic and become truly global stars."
The Wilder and Fury camps have been in negotiations for a rematch of their Dec. 1 draw at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Showtime, which has a long-term deal with Wilder co-manager Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions, put the fight on Showtime PPV and has said it has the rights to a rematch, which could make finalizing it complicated now that Fury is with ESPN.
Shelly Finkel, Wilder's co-manager, told ESPN that he said he wasn't sure if Showtime had a contractual right to a rematch but that he hoped the network would be involved if the fight is finalized.
"We are hoping to make the fight and figure out how with this new relationship they have with ESPN that it can be done. I would want to try to make it with Showtime and ESPN (working together)," Finkel said. "(Haymon) wants to make the fight and that whatever is realistic will get done."
A purse bid for the bout has been postponed twice because they were close to a deal.
The purse bid was initially scheduled for Tuesday at the WBC headquarters in Mexico City, but the sanctioning body permitted it to be postponed for one week because the camps said they were close to making a deal.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman said the purse bid was allowed to be further delayed because of how close they are to an agreement.
"I have been in direct communication with both parties and they have indicated that they are in goodwill negotiations, very close to reaching an agreement," Sulaiman told ESPN last week. "I will monitor this matter personally and if needed will intervene within the next week."
Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) fought to a draw in an entertaining battle in a classic heavyweight title fight that generated around 325,000 buys for Showtime PPV in the United States. Fury outboxed Wilder for long stretches, but Wilder also scored two knockdowns, one in the ninth round and a thunderous one in the 12th round, after which Fury shockingly beat the count and was able to continue.
In the end, the judges scored it 115-111 for Wilder, 114-112 for Fury and 113-113, a split draw that allowed Wilder to retain his belt for the eighth time.
After the fight, Wilder, 33, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Fury, 30, of England, each said they wanted an immediate rematch, and a week after the fight, the WBC said it would approve a second fight. Three weeks ago, the WBC formally ordered the rematch and set the parameters for the purse split in the event there was a purse bid.
The fight, if finalized, is being targeted for May 18 in New York or Las Vegas, Finkel said. April 27 had also been a potential date but no longer.
"April is out," Finkel said.