Bob Arum can’t envision any scenario in which someone would be able to pay Deontay Wilder and Kubrat Pulev enough money to step aside and allow a Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua fight to happen next.
ESPN.com reported late last month that MTK Global, the company that advises Fury, and Eddie Hearn, Joshua’s promoter, have had discussions about finding investors in Saudi Arabia or elsewhere in the Middle East who could help make a heavyweight title unification bout between Fury and Joshua next. Wilder quickly exercised his contractual right to an immediate third fight with Fury after Fury stopped him in the seventh round of their WBC heavyweight championship rematch February 22 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Arum, whose company co-promotes Fury, dismissed the possibility of Fury-Joshua occurring before Fury-Wilder III during the most recent episode of SiriusXM’s “At The Fights.”
“To talk about paying Wilder or paying Pulev step-aside money is at this point ludicrous,” Arum told co-hosts Gerry Cooney and Randy Gordon. “I mean, we are not the United States mint, that can print money and distribute it – you know, $2 trillion, or, you know money hard to imagine. We can’t do that. Who’s gonna pay the step-aside money? I mean, where’s it coming from? It’s nice to say, ‘Hey, pay step-aside [money].’ Who the hell is gonna pay it? Right? So, you know, let’s look forward to a Fury-Wilder fight, a Joshua-Pulev fight.”
Bulgaria’s Pulev is the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF title. England’s Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs), who also owns the WBA, WBO and IBO titles, and Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs) were scheduled to fight June 20 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, but it was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
England’s Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) and Alabama’s Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) were tentatively scheduled to meet a third time July 18 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. That bout also was moved toward the end of the year because of the coronavirus crisis.
Whenever it can happen, Arum expects Fury-Wilder III to take place prior to Fury-Joshua.
“Look, Deontay Wilder gave Fury two opportunities to fight for the title, and we don’t forget that,” Arum explained. “One, he selected Fury for the fight that was in Los Angeles [in December 2018]. And then after it was a draw – I thought Fury won, but they called it a draw – he signed on to give Fury a [second] shot, which was the fight in February in Las Vegas. We also have a contract with the Wilder people, which guarantees him a third fight. So, what we’re thinking is to do that fight. We’re making plans on how to do it. It would certainly not be until sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.
“And we will do that fight because I think it’s a good fight, you have to allow Wilder the opportunity to come up with a plan to neutralize Fury, which he says he’s working on. And I think it’ll be a big attraction. If Fury wins that fight, and if Joshua has a fight with another fighter of mine, Kubrat Pulev, the Bulgarian, if Joshua wins that fight, then a Fury-Joshua fight would be delayed until next year.”
Arum reiterated, however, that he believes Pulev, whom Top Rank also co-promotes, will upset Joshua and effectively ruin the Fury-Joshua showdown.
“I think Pulev is gonna beat Joshua, frankly,” Arum said. “Yeah, I really do. I think Joshua’s really spent. I mean, look, Andy Ruiz is a good kid and he fought most of all of his fights for us. But the fact that he could knock out Joshua says volumes about Joshua. And the rematch that they had, I mean, that doesn’t count. Ruiz wasn’t in any kind of shape. He came in fat, and Joshua was reluctant to engage with him. So, I really think Pulev, who’s a big, tough Bulgarian, is gonna get into Joshua and knock Joshua out.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.