Tyson Fury thought it was weird when he watched UFC 249 unfold inside an empty arena.
Those MMA matches reminded the WBC heavyweight champion more of sparring sessions than fights that count. Fury fully understands why crowds can’t attend live sporting events until further notice, but he isn’t interested in boxing in an essentially empty room.
If he were offered to fight Deontay Wilder or another opponent without a crowd, Fury would turn it down and wait until fans could attend.
“I don’t think I could get motivated to do it, Kug, honestly,” Fury said in an interview with IFL TV’s Kugan Cassius, which was posted recently to its YouTube channel. “Because it’d just be like being in the gym, not real, not a real event. And you can’t have the heavyweight championship of the world with no live crowd. I just don’t think it works. Not for the money, because money aside, I’ve already made a lot of money. You know I have.
“And all these boxers who’s boxing have already made a lot of money. So, you know, I think it’d just be robbing the public of a massive opportunity to go watch live [boxing]. So, I’m not all for it for me. But that’s just my opinion on me, personally. If I get an offer to fight behind closed doors, I won’t be doing it. And that’s it.”
Fury’s rematch with Wilder on February 22 attracted a capacity crowd of 15,816 to MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and generated slightly more than $16.9 million in ticket revenue, a Nevada record for a heavyweight title fight. England’s Fury floored Wilder twice, once apiece in the third and fifth rounds, and beat him by technical knockout in the seventh round, when Wilder’s co-trainer, Mark Breland, threw in the towel.
The 31-year-old Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) is contractually committed to a third pay-per-view fight against Alabama’s Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs).
It tentatively was scheduled for July 18 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a postponement until October 3, but Fury-Wilder III has been delayed again, this time indefinitely.
Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter, told BoxingScene.com last week that he and Al Haymon, Wilder’s adviser, hope to schedule their third fight for November or December. Arum added, however, that it likely will take place outside of the United States and the United Kingdom because they cannot afford to lose the ticket revenue from that high-profile fight by putting it on without a live audience.
“You can’t do that event without making up for the $17 million in gate revenue that you would otherwise lose,” Arum said. “You can’t do it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.