By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Deontay Wilder has made Barclays Center his home away from home during his heavyweight title reign.
The Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native has headlined three Showtime cards at the Brooklyn venue since he beat Bermane Stiverne to win the WBC title in January 2015. His first fight against Tyson Fury probably would’ve taken place there if the venue hadn’t been booked the night their critically acclaimed clash occurred.
Now that they’re almost assuredly headed for an immediate rematch, Wilder would welcome bringing that second championship match to Brooklyn.
“It really doesn’t matter, but I would love either Vegas or New York, Vegas or Barclays, you know?,” Wilder told a small group of reporters recently. “Barclays Center has shown me a lot of love. New York has welcomed me with open arms, you know? So, you know, whatever makes sense.”
Barclays Center has remained firmly committed to boxing since hosting its first card in October 2012. The home of the NBA’s Nets is the East Coast home to Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions cards and figures to offer numerous cards in 2019, beginning with a show headlined by WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman on January 26.
Wilder’s fights there have become bigger by the event as well. His epic encounter versus Luis Ortiz, in which Wilder overcame serious trouble late in the seventh round to win by 10th-round knockout, drew an announced crowd of 14,069 to Barclays Center.
The Wilder-Fury fight attracted an announced crowd of 17,698 to Staples Center in Los Angeles. Barclays Center figures to receive stiff competition for hosting Wilder-Fury II from MGM Resorts International – co-owner of T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
More Brits are likely to travel to Las Vegas or New York for the Wilder-Fury rematch than to Los Angeles for their first fight. MGM Resorts International has the obvious advantage of being able to offer a sizeable site fee, hotel rooms and the Vegas experience as part of its package.
“Whatever makes sense,” Wilder said. “I’m all about whatever makes sense, whatever’s gonna generate the most dollars, you know, I’m ready to go. … At this point, wherever makes sense, I’m gonna go.”
Stephen Espinoza, Showtime’s president for sports and event programming, seconded Wilder in supporting Barclays Center as the site for the rematch. Showtime is expected to distribute the second bout between Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) and England’s Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) on pay-per-view.
“Personally, I think New York City would be incredible for a rematch,” Espinoza said. “Barclays Center has always supported [Wilder] and [Barclays Center executive] Brett [Yormark is] a passionate advocate, and one of the best marketers in the sport. I think Barclays would add a lot to the event.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.