By: Sean Crose
“We knew Fury wasn’t gonna take this fight,” so said WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder on Gerry Cooney and Randy Gordon’s Sirius XM show. “You know,” he continued, “we got to a certain point in time when they were stalling about signing the contract that was already set a week ago. When he was stalling from signing that, we knew something was wrong. We knew it was the problem where Frank (Frank Warren, Fury’s promoter) wasn’t answering his phone anymore. You know it wasn’t no reason for him not to answer. We knew something was up.”
With those words, the undefeated power puncher from Alabama gave his take on “the fight that wasn’t” – a highly anticipated rematch between himself and Tyson Fury, which was widely expected to go down this spring. The first Wilder-Fury battle, which occurred in December and ended in a controversial draw, left fans wanting more, in no small part because Fury went down – then got up, from a ferocious Wilder shot in the 12th and final round. Fury, however, surprised the fight world recently by aligning with promoter Bob Arum and ESPN, a move which arguably put him directly at odds with Wilder, and Al Haymon, who acts as Wilder’s adviser.
The fact that Fury’s decision was announced around the time fans and analysts were expecting word of a Wilder rematch only added to the shock factor. “You know nothing was wrong with the contract,” said Wilder, “that everything was good. But Fury did not want to fight me. Fury signed the ESPN deal to run away from me. You can’t go nowhere. Well, where he gonna go? He’s not a champion. He didn’t win the fight.” Fury, of course, has his own take on things (it’s doubtful he’d even say he didn’t want a rematch with Wilder). The fighter known as The Bronze Bomber admitted that team Fury made him an offer – but it wasn’t the kind of offer he’d be willing to take.
According to Wilder, team Fury was eager to capitalize on the fact that Wilder had admitted he was a “free agent,” which essentially meant Wilder could fight on any network, including ESPN. “That’s where everything went crazy,” Wilder said. “We got a lot of deals on the table. But yeah. They (team Fury) went to four fights or whatever.” In other words, Wilder claimed team Fury wanted Wilder to sign a four fight contract with ESPN before agreeing to a rematch.