The second installment of the heavyweight clash between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury on Feb. 22 is projecting for lofty—if not record—figures, according to the principals involved in the mega rematch.
“I would be disappointed if the pay-per-view was less than two million buys,” Top Rank head Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “That’s the goal and estimation. I think it’s doable and PBC [head Al Haymon] thinks it’s doable, and we’re pulling off all of the stops to reach that number, or exceed it.”
The first fight between the WBC champion Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and the lineal champion Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs), a disputed draw, yielded a reported 325,000 pay-per-view buys. The match took place through Showtime distribution in December 2018. The ESPN and FOX co-distributed rematch is slated to take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
In a separate interview with CNBC, the 88-year-old Arum said the event should make “well in excess of $100 million.”
Arum’s $100 million goal would compete with the Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis fight in 2002, which made $110 million (1.97 million PPV buys), and the 1997 rematch between Tyson and Evander Holyfield at $100 million (1.99 million PPV buys) as the highest-grossing heavyweight fight of all time.
“Wilder-Fury 2 has the same kind of legs as Pacquiao-Mayweather, or Mayweather-McGregor,” said Arum. “We have two enormous megaphones in ESPN and FOX talking about the fight, and incentivizing the public to buy it.”
Arum and Haymon are planning to leverage the platform Super Bowl 54 presents, which takes place Feb. 2 on FOX, to further ramp up the multi-channel promotion for the fight.
In 2020 and moving forward, Arum and Haymon will be better in doing business together, and Wilder-Fury will dictate just how much they’re willing to play ball in the future.
“We’ve had meetings and laid out plans for the [Wilder-Fury 2] promotion, but I’m not going to betray what happened at the meetings,” said Arum. “Everything is good, but the announcements will come when they’re ready. If we debriefed the press on our meetings and what was decided, they would look at it as an act of bad faith, and they would be right. They have a policy of not talking to the press and making announcements when they’re ready. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but I’ll go along with it. All I’ll say is everything is on board and going full speed ahead.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.