By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Stephen Espinoza wants to believe Bob Arum.
He really does.
Until Arum acts upon what he has discussed regarding a Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury rematch, though, Espinoza expects that’ll Fury will fight someone other than Wilder next if Fury defeats Tom Schwarz on June 15 in Las Vegas. Espinoza expected a second Wilder-Fury fight to take place May 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Once Fury signed a co-promotional agreement with Arum’s Top Rank Inc. last month, negotiations ceased for Fury to fight Wilder next. Instead, Wilder will make a mandatory defense of his WBC heavyweight title against Dominic Breazeale on May 18 at Barclays Center, four weeks before Fury meets Germany’s Schwarz in a fight ESPN+ will stream from UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Arum suggested Saturday night that a Wilder-Fury rematch wouldn’t happen until at least February, assuming they keep winning. Espinoza, Showtime Sports’ president, discussed the likelihood of an eventual Wilder-Fury rematch recently with BoxingScene.com.
“Conceptually and theoretically, it’s very possible,” Espinoza said. “The question is one of intent, because I’ve heard [Arum] say that there are other fights he’s interested in – Crawford-Spence or Lomachenko-Garcia – and he’s done nothing to advance those. Not a single phone call, not a single attempt to make those fights, other than talking about them publicly.
“So really, it’s not difficult, and I do believe [Arum] wants it. If he says it, until he proves differently, I’ll believe it. But what would be much more convincing than him saying it is to actually act on it and take steps to make any of those fights happen – whether it’s the Fury rematch or any of other big fights.”
For now, Espinoza hopes fans at least appreciate that Wilder-Breazeale isn’t a pay-per-view main event. That took “a significant financial commitment” from Showtime once DAZN proposed a four-fight deal to Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) that would’ve paid him $20 million to box Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) before boxing Anthony Joshua.
“There will be some appreciation that this fight is not on pay-per-view, and that was important to Deontay,” Espinoza said. “It required a financial commitment from our network, which we were happy to make – a significant financial commitment. But I think what some of the reaction will be is it creates obstacles toward getting the big fights.
“And certainly, if Deontay would’ve signed with one of these other platforms, maybe you might have seen one of those fights down the line. I don’t think that it means that it’ll be that much harder to get a Fury rematch if [Wilder is] not with ESPN. It’s still eminently doable. What this means is it’s going to take some more work, not that it’s out of the question. But it’s just going to take additional negotiation.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.