A third fight between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former titleholder Deontay Wilder was set for the summer; however, due to the uncertainty across the sporting world caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the trilogy will have to wait until the fall, at the earliest.
Top Rank president and Fury co-promoter Bob Arum told ESPN that the prospective July 18 bout, slated for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, will have to move to a later date.
Fury dethroned the previously unbeaten Wilder with a dominant seventh-round stoppage when the two met for a highly anticipated rematch on Feb. 22. Wilder exercised the rematch clause in his contract for an immediate third fight to take place as early as the summer as part of another joint-venture pay-per-view between ESPN and Fox. But with no clear end to the spread of the novel coronavirus, Arum was left no choice but to push the fight back.
"Clearly not," Arum told ESPN of the original date. "We don't even know if the MGM will even be open by then."
Casinos in Las Vegas have been closed since the middle of March and the Nevada State Athletic Commission has canceled all combat sports in the state for the immediate future. For a fight of this magnitude, the combatants would need time to properly train and, most importantly, a venue would need to be set in stone.
"You could not guarantee the fighters that the event would take place on that date. We couldn't convince them or ourselves," Arum said. "Where were they going to train for it? It just made no sense. You just have to take a step back. How are you going to sell tickets? It's absolutely ridiculous to say the fight is on when the Brits can't even get there."
Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) and Wilder met for the first time in December 2018, and the fight ended in an unsatisfying split draw. Fury outboxed Wilder for much of the contest but needed to survive a 12th-round knockdown from the powerful Wilder to make it to the scorecards.
After the fighters each won a pair of interim bouts, they met again in February. This time, Fury dominated the matchup from the opening bell, dropped Wilder, earned a shocking TKO and added the WBC title to his lineal championship.
Since then, sports have been delayed indefinitely by the rapid spread of COVID-19. All major sporting organizations have been affected by the pandemic, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics being formally postponed Tuesday as the world hopes for an end for the virus that has affected tens of thousands in the United States and many more across the globe.
"So everybody has to take a step back. Boxing is not isolated. It's part of what's happening in the world," Arum said. "So possibly the fight will be in early October."