Tyson Fury contacted Deontay Wilder directly to capitalise on the breakdown in negotiations for a fight between the American and Anthony Joshua and persuade him he instead should be his next opponent.
The WBC heavyweight champion will next defend his title against Fury in Las Vegas in November. He travelled to Belfast to watch his rival defeat Francesco Pianeta at Windsor Park on Saturday, after which they confirmed their fight.
Fury’s status as his latest challenger comes after lengthy negotiations for a unification showdown with Joshua ended in frustration and, it transpires, after Fury independently concluded he was already ready for what he considers his “hardest fight”.
He returned after almost three years of inactivity on June 9 against the little-known Sefer Seferi and, despite then still being significantly above his fighting weight, he had already re-thought his initial plan to take several warm-up contests before challenging for a title.
An understanding exists between the pair, partly as a consequence of Fury revealing it was Wilder who helped inspire him to get into shape and return to the ring.
Those that make the 32-year-old the favourite to defend his title do so partly because of the belief that Fury is rushing into such a dangerous fight so soon into his comeback, while further observers believe Wilder will struggle with the Briton’s awkward style.
Wilder is instead convinced that not only is Fury already ready to challenge him in a fight that he says is “most definitely” bigger than one with Joshua, but that his stoppage of Cuba’s Luis Ortiz earlier this year provided the ideal preparation for a fighter with Fury’s strengths.
“At least this time I’m going in with two fights. I’m happy with the performance over Pianeta. Wilder congratulated me and said it was a great performance. I could have stood there and traded with him but I didn’t need a one-round KO, I needed rounds," Fury said.
"My camp for the Wilder fight could be in America. I want to do everything right for this camp so I'm probably going to do 10 or 12 weeks in America for this fight. I might go to California - like Big Bear - or Las Vegas, I don't know yet.
"If you want to be the best you've got to go and crack America. It's alright being a big fish in the small pond of the United Kingdom, but if you want to be the Don Perignon then you've got to go to America like Lennox Lewis did or like all the greats before me who tried."