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The trilogy fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder apparently has a date, though if we've learned anything amid this chaos, it's that things can change.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum declared on Thursday that Fury and Wilder will face off on July 24 in Las Vegas, with the hope that Fury, the current WBC heavyweight champion, will finally face Anthony Joshua in a unification bout in November and December.
ESPN's Ben Baby later reported the Fury and Wilder camps had come to a verbal agreement for July 24, with an alternate date of Aug. 14. Arum reportedly told ESPN he expects the contracts to be signed in the coming days, with a reported purse split of 60-40 in Fury's favor.
Fury and Joshua had been set to face each other on Aug. 14, but one day after the fight was finalized, an arbitrator ruled in Wilder's favor and ordered Fury to give the former WBC champion a third fight by Sept. 15.
Fury and Arum had the choice of scrapping the Joshua fight or paying Wilder to step aside, but Arum signaled on Tuesday that he had no interest in giving Wilder the payout. Meanwhile, with the Fury fight seemingly spiked, Joshua was left with a WBO mandatory challenge from Oleksandr Usyk, which could happen in a similar time frame as Fury-Wilder.
Joshua is less than thrilled about the situation.
Will Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III be any different?
Fury and Wilder first faced off in December 2018, a fight that ended in a controversial draw despite Wilder knocking down Fury in the 12th round. The second fight in February 2020 was significantly more one-sided, as Fury dominated Wilder all the way to a seventh-round TKO.
Not many people came away from that later fight thinking Wilder would fare better in a rematch, but Wilder proceeded to argue his case with a number of excuses.
First, he blamed a 40-pound, Power Rangers villain-esque outfit he wore into the ring, claiming it left his legs dead at the beginning of the fight. He then accused Fury of loading his gloves with something resembling an egg weight in an unhinged video posted to social media, while continuing to blast the refereeing of the fight and his own trainer's decision to throw in the towel.
Wilder and Fury's teams originally agreed on a contract-required trilogy fight for July 2020, but a left biceps surgery for Wilder and the COVID-19 pandemic derailed those plans. The fight was rescheduled to Oct. 3, but later fell through and was moved to Dec. 19, which also fell through due to ESPN and Fox's concerns about competition from the college football slate.
At that point, Fury got sick of waiting and set up a two-fight deal with Joshua to finally unify the heavyweight belts (Fury holds the WBC belt, while Joshua has the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles). Wilder filed an injunction in response, and will now get his fight.
Fury-Joshua could obviously still happen later this year, but the luster would obviously diminish if either fall in their likely summer fights.
Fury outclassed Wilder the last time they faced, but Wilder's famed punching power can obviously turn the tide quickly. Usyk isn't a pushover, either, as he held the unified cruiserweight championship before his move to heavyweight and currently ranks as The Ring's No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter.
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