ESPN want “warm-up” then Wilder as Fury heads for America

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ALTHOUGH Tyson Fury’s popularity in Great Britain is currently at an all-time high, it seems increasingly likely that the self-proclaimed ‘Gypsy King’ will be spending more time in the United States of America than at home in the coming months.

The 30-year-old, the current face of British GQ, has just signed a bumper US television contract with ESPN, following an impressive performance against WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in Los Angeles last year, and the world – or at least America – is seemingly his oyster.

Back in December, Fury outboxed Wilder for most of the 12 rounds they shared but succumbed to a couple of heavy knockdowns and fell victim to the three judges’ scorecards. He settled for a draw in the end, yet, so great was the impression he made before, during and after the bout, Fury now stands to make millions from a multi-fight deal with ESPN.

What impact this deal has on his chances of landing a Wilder rematch remains to be seen, but a couple of things are certain: Tyson Fury is getting well paid and is about to be watched by millions stateside.

“Anthony Joshua’s first fight on DAZN had 16,000 people watching it, whereas Tyson had 325,000 people watching the Wilder fight on Showtime,” Fury’s promoter Frank Warren told Boxing News. “His next fight will be shown on a station that is in 75% of people’s homes. It’s a no-brainer for us. Tyson is going to have better exposure than Joshua. That will help him massively.

“ESPN are now getting into boxing big time and that’s obviously great for Tyson because they’ll get behind him and it will help us in negotiations when it comes time to fight the likes of Wilder and Joshua.

“Joshua has got DAZN, Wilder has got Showtime, but Tyson, I feel, has become the bigger name in America. I think Tyson Fury means more in American than Wilder, to be quite honest. He will certainly mean more now he’s on ESPN. People respect him because he didn’t have a problem going to Germany to win the title [against Wladimir Klitschko in 2015] and because he didn’t have a problem going to the States to fight Wilder.”

Frank Warren

Of course, the one downside to Fury hitting the jackpot with ESPN is that it naturally pulls him further away from Great Britain. In going where the pot of gold happens to be located, Fury has presumably conceded his short-term future lies in America and that fights against Opponent A, Deontay Wilder, and Opponent C will all take place there in 2019.

“I’ll say it how it is. Yes, they do want Fury over there,” admitted Warren. “What ESPN have insisted, and I get where they are coming from because I can see it from a business point of view, is that they want Tyson to have a warm-up fight. Not so much a warm-up fight but a fight they can use to introduce him to their viewers. Then they want to get to the Wilder fight and do it on pay-per-view in the States.

“That will obviously make a big difference to the amount of income generated for the fighters. I get that and I understand that. I also understand why we’re all a bit upset that it isn’t happening next. But that was the deal that was done and that’s the road he wanted to go down, so that’s where we are.”

For more uplifting tales about British boxers chasing the hot American dollar, check out our eight-page feature in this week’s Boxing News (digital March 5, print March 7), which includes insights from Frank Warren, Eddie Hearn and Adam Smith, Sky Sports’ Head of Boxing.





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