It’s bowl season for the biggest fight on the current boxing schedule.
Eyebrows have been raised over the timing of the announcement for the anticipated heavyweight title fight rematch between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury. The pair of unbeaten giants will collide February 22 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, which will be presented as a joint pay-per-view venture between ESPN+ and Fox Sports.
The bout was officially announced by both boxers and their respective handlers on Friday, one day before a major Showtime-televised card Saturday evening in Atlanta, Georgia. The timing, however, had nothing to do with current events in the boxing world, but rather capitalizing on the slew of college football bowl games taking place this weekend as both prepare for training camp.
England’s Fury (29-0-1, 20KOs) will reap the full benefits of his current arrangement with ESPN+. The undefeated top-rated heavyweight will serve as a guest this Saturday on ESPN’s “College Gameday”, the popular and long-running series which takes place live on rotating selection locations every Saturday mornings preceding college football action.
Saturday’s show takes place live in Glendale, Arizona, where ESPN will televise the Playstation Fiesta Bowl later that evening, played between #2 Ohio State and #3 Clemson, the defending national champions. The game is part of the college football playoffs, with the winner playing in the national championship on January 13 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The other side of the bracket pits #1 ranked LSU versus #4 Oklahoma, with their Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl taking place at Mercedes Benz Stadium—coincidentally, mere door steps away from Saturday’s Showtime-televised tripleheader featuring Gervonta Davis and Yuriorkis Gamboa in a 12-round lightweight bout. Wilder (42-0-1, 41KOs) was due to appear at the LSU-Oklahoma game—which also airs live on ESPN–but there remain unresolved travel conflicts which could prevent his appearance as this goes to publish.
The pair of college football playoff matchups a four-game lineup between ESPN and ABC, which are both part of the Disney family and whose full resources will be utilized to help promote the aforementioned PPV headliner. Fox Sports will soon reveal its plans for marketing and shoulder programming as well, with the NFL Playoffs undoubtedly serving as a significant part of the promotion, along with Super Bowl LIV which airs February 2 live in primetime on Fox.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox