Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions out-bid Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing on Friday to earn the right to promote the mandated heavyweight title bout between WBC champion Tyson Fury and challenger Dillian Whyte.
Warren’s winning bid, which was funded in conjunction with Fury’s other co-promoter, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., was a record $41,025,000, nearly $9 million more than Matchroom offered for this high-profile fight between polarizing British heavyweights. Matchroom, which works with Whyte, offered $32,222,222 during a bid that was conducted virtually by the WBC.
Queensberry and Top Rank offered an enormous amount of money for the right to promote Fury-Whyte primarily because Arum and Warren didn’t want their most popular, valuable boxer to perform on platforms other than ESPN and BT Sport, even for one fight. ESPN has an exclusive content partnership with Top Rank, as does Warren with BT Sport in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Matchroom and DAZN, a worldwide streaming service, also are partners.
If Fury-Whyte takes place, it will be a pay-per-view event in the United States and in the UK. It is expected to be held sometime in April in the UK.
Though the total compensation for Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs) and Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) has been established thanks to this whopping winning bid by Queensberry and Top Rank, the fight won’t happen unless Whyte agrees to the purse split. The WBC ruled late last year that an 80-20 split should favor Fury, who would benefit from more than its usual 70-30 split for champions and challengers.
Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Fury’s co-promoter, requested an 80-20 split at the WBC’s annual convention two months ago in Mexico City. Whyte, who already had sued the WBC for failing to enforce his status as its mandatory challenger, protested the 80-20 split because the Jamaican-born, London-based contender is convinced he is worth significantly more to the event than 20 percent.
If Whyte were to agree to the 80-20 split, he would be guaranteed $8,205,000 for fighting Fury. His undefeated, favored opponent would be guaranteed $32,820,000.
Representatives for Fury, Whyte, Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk tried to come to an agreement throughout this week that would’ve enabled Joshua to step aside from his immediate rematch with Usyk to allow a Fury-Usyk fight for full title unification in the heavyweight division. Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs) and Whyte would’ve been paid substantial step-aside fees as part of that agreement, but they couldn’t settle on a solution that would’ve satisfied all parties involved.
Now that Queensberry and Top Rank have won the Fury-Whyte purse bid, it appears that Joshua will move forward with his rematch versus Ukraine’s Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs). The former undisputed cruiserweight champion upset Joshua by unanimous decision September 25 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London to win the IBF, IBO, WBA and WBO titles.
Joshua had an immediate rematch clause in his contract, despite that Usyk was the WBO’s mandatory challenger for one of his four titles. Rematch clauses typically are prohibited in contracts for championship matches mandated by sanctioning organizations.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.