Tyson Fury contacted Deontay Wilder directly to capitalise on the breakdown in negotiations for a fight with 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.
Wilder told Press Association Sport: “Fury contacted me and we had a great conversation. This was Instagram, on June 22.
“In that conversation he was apologising to me, about the situation that had occurred (in not securing the Joshua fight) and he told me, ‘They never wanted to fight you’. That they’d avoid me for as long as possible until (Joshua’s trainer) Rob McCracken says he’s ready.
“He said, ‘I promised you I’d fight you – let’s make this happen, it’ll be the biggest fight in the world’.
“I’ve always wanted the Tyson Fury fight. To finally get him, it’s a blessing. In our eyes he’s still the lineal champion, he’s undefeated.
“He’s still getting massive respect, he’s the man who beat the man. I can’t wait to meet the man that beat the man so when I beat the man I become the man, you understand?”
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.