Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury Are Fighting, but Also Bringing Rivals Together

Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury Are Fighting, but Also Bringing Rivals Together


The current professional boxing landscape lacks a megastar who can reliably deliver more than a million pay-per-view buys the way Floyd Mayweather did before he retired in 2017. But between traditional TV and upstart streaming services, the sport is available on more platforms than ever.

ESPN has said boxing helped its ESPN+ streaming service attract 7.6 million subscribers in its first two years, although a bundling with Disney’s new streaming service certainly is a major factor. Streaming service DAZN has the broadcast rights to Anthony Joshua, who holds the two other major heavyweight titles, under an eight-year, $1 billion deal. In October 2018, DAZN committed a further $365 million to an 11-fight deal with the middleweight Canelo Alvarez.

Fox is the broadcast platform for Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions series. Last weekend’s P.B.C. card on Fox drew 1.8 million viewers, according to Bill Wanger, the executive vice president of programming at Fox Sports. It is a modest number compared to an N.F.L. broadcast but Wanger said it was impressive for a boxing match without a mainstream superstar, and proof the sport had a reliable audience.

The first Wilder-Fury pairing attracted a reported 325,000 pay-per-view buys, and while organizers won’t make a sales projection for the rematch, they said they were confident Saturday’s rematch would be a success, partly because of the protagonists involved.

Wilder, 34, is a dominant American heavyweight with an Olympic medal (bronze in Beijing in 2008) and stunning punching power. He has recorded knockouts in 41 of 43 pro bouts, and his recent one-punch wins over Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz became viral highlights that still circulate on social media.

Fury, meanwhile, is a brash trash-talker, unbeaten in 30 pro bouts. He has a built-in fan base in England, where boxing remains a major sport, and rising from that final-round knockdown in the first Wilder fight burnished his reputation as a resourceful, resilient champion.

Arum said that he and other boxing executives have accepted that on big fights like Wilder-Fury, promoters and managers can make more money as partners than they can as rivals.



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