By Keith Idec
Tyson Fury still must defeat Francesco Pianeta on Saturday night, but that didn’t stop him and Deontay Wilder on Friday from unofficially beginning what figures to be an over-the-top promotion of their heavyweight title fight.
Fury and Wilder playfully traded insults during a wild scene in the lobby of the Europa Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland, following the weigh-in for Fury’s fight against Pianeta. Separated by fans and members of their teams, the 6-feet-9 Fury (26-0, 19 KOs) and the 6-feet-7 Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) screamed and pointed at one another before heading their separate ways.
Neither Wilder nor Fury appeared genuinely angry during the exchange. Both boxers smiled as the seemingly staged scene unfolded in WWE fashion.
Assuming the heavily favored Fury beats Italy’s Pianeta (35-4-1, 20 KOs) in their scheduled 10-rounder, the Wilder-Fury fight will be officially announced in the ring Saturday night at Windsor Park in Belfast. The Wilder-Fury fight for Wilder’s WBC title is expected to take place in November in Las Vegas.
Wilder will serve as a guest commentator for BT Sport’s broadcast of Fury-Pianeta.
Moments before Fury and Wilder met in the hotel lobby, John Fury, Tyson’s father, had to be restrained as he argued with Wilder from the stage where his son was about to weigh in.
“I’m looking very forward to watching Tyson fight, to see what he’s gonna do,” Wilder told BT Sport on Friday. “You know, he better take this guy very seriously. I know it’s a big fight coming up with him and I, but this is the first step. This is a very important step for him. He must execute. He must complete the task and get the job done. If not, then all goes in vain.
“But at the same time, we’re here, we’re gonna enjoy ourselves. I’ve never been to Belfast. I’ve been to Ireland before, but never Belfast. And I’ve definitely been greeted with open arms and welcomed all over, even on the plane. And so I’m very excited to be here. And either or – either lose, win or draw – my team is gonna have a great time here in Belfast.”
BT Sport will televise the Fury-Pianeta and Carl Frampton-Luke Jackson fights in the United Kingdom. Showtime will stream both bouts on its YouTube channel (3:30 p.m. ET/12:30 p.m. PT).
Belfast’s Frampton (25-1, 14 KOs) and Australia’s Jackson (16-0, 7 KOs) will fight for the WBO’s interim featherweight title in the main event.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.