Paul Bamba is set for the biggest fight of his career.
Controversy has swirled surrounding Bamba’s currently scheduled six-round clash with England’s Tommy Fury (8-0, 4KOs), which is due to take place Sunday at Coca-Cola Arena in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The co-feature participants to the Floyd Mayweather-Deji main event were seven pounds apart during Saturday’s official pre-fight weigh-in. The reason for the disparity, all parties on site contend, is that both boxers were informed of separate weight limits in place for the sanctioned contest.
Bamba—a Puerto Rican light heavyweight based out of New York City—was 174.6 pounds, within the light heavyweight limit at which he was contractually led to believe the fight would take place. Fury—the younger brother of lineal/WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (32-0-1, 23KOs)—was 181 ½ pounds, after which he pounded his chest and insisted that he would deliver a spectacular knockout on Sunday’s DAZN Pay-Per-View event.
“There shouldn’t be a knockout when you don’t make weight,” Bamba noted while both were still on stage. “That sucks. You’re about seven pounds overweight, for the world to know.”
Bamba was right to believe that to be the case according to the terms to which he agreed.
According to a bout agreement as provided by event promoter Global Titans and as signed by Bamba on September 16—a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com—the fight was contracted at a maximum weight of 79.379 kilograms (175 pounds). Included among the agreed-upon stipulations is “the option subject to the agreement of the Boxer to replace the opponent of the Boxer with another opponent… should the contracted opponent Boxer failed to make weight or last-minute pull-out or disqualified by the MIDDLE EAST PROFESSIONAL BOXING (MEPB).”
Bamba’s team—both on-site in Dubai and back home in the U.S.—expressed immediate concern over the disparity in weight. It was learned on-site that Fury’s team contractually agreed to a maximum weight of 81 kilograms (roughly 178 ½ pounds), and that Bamba was at fault for not knowing the terms.
Even with a limit of 81 kg/178 ½ pounds, it would still leave Fury two full kilograms (three pounds) over the limit as specified by Global Titans and the local commission. Bamba’s team—including promoter Thomas ‘Cornflake’ LaManna and agent Sarah Fina—has since argued that the boxer will need to be properly incentivized for the bout to proceed.
“Global Titans told me to fuck off,” Fina told BoxingScene.com. “I told them we need to see the contract for both fighters, that my guy needs to be compensated and that Tommy Fury can’t rehydrate to more than fifteen pounds above the weight in Bamba’s contract. They told me to fuck off.”
BoxingScene.com has learned that Global Titans will ensure that Bamba is properly compensated in exchange for moving forward with the bout, though it remains unclear if Fury will have to commit to a rehydration clause.
The discrepancy and disregard for fighter safety comes on the heels of boxing’s latest in-ring tragedy.
Kazakhstan’s Aidos Yerbossynuly remains hospitalized and reportedly in a medically induced coma following a twelfth-round stoppage loss to David Morrell on November 5 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. All rules were followed heading into the Showtime-televised secondary WBA super middleweight title fight, which Morrell dominated in a largely one-sided affair that saw the unbeaten Yerbossynuly well out of his depth.
Fury remains a work in progress even as a middling prospect, but is a significant favorite over Bamba who steps up significantly in class.
The 33-year-old Boricua has fought just one opponent with a winning record—an eight-round win over Dioniso Miranda (22-20-3 at the time) on June 29 in Cartagena, Colombia. Both of his losses came to fighters with losing records, including a four-round split decision defeat to Derrick Vann who was 1-4 heading into their August 20 light heavyweight bout in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Bamba claimed a second-round knockout over winless Francisco Morelos in his most recent bout on September 8 in Santiago de Tolu, Colombia.
Fury last appeared in a six-round decision over Daniel Bocianski on April 23. The fight took place on the undercard of older brother Tyson Fury’s sixth-round knockout of Dillian Whyte in front of 94,000 in attendance at Wembley Stadium in London.
The 23-year-old Fury was due to face content creator and current rising cruiserweight prospect Jake Paul (6-0, 4KOs) atop an August 6 Showtime Pay-Per-View event from Madison Square Garden in New York City. However, he was forced to withdraw when he was prohibited from boarding a flight to enter the U.S. It was later learned that his ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authority) document was denied, required for travel to the U.S. from the U.K.
The drama surrounding Fury-Bamba was the only discrepancy during Saturday’s weigh-in. All other participants made weight, though at least four undercard bouts and exhibitions featured on stage shoving matches which were immediately resolved. Mayweather (50-0, 27KOs)—a Hall of Fame former five-division champion—and social media influencer Deji were respectful of one another on stage ahead of Sunday’s main event.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox