Tyson Fury’s all-British heavyweight showdown with Anthony Joshua could happen much sooner than initially thought because of the coronavirus pandemic and the effect of President Trump’s United States travel ban, promoter Bob Arum has admitted.
WBC heavyweight champion Fury is due to face American Deontay Wilder in a rematch of the February bout – the third time that the pair have fought since December 2018 – after Wilder activated a clause in his contract following the stoppage two months ago.
The trilogy fight was initially due to take place on 18 July, but Arum has already confirmed the postponement of that date due to the global outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen the US suffer the highest death rate of any country and the United Kingdom on course to become the second-most affected.
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With lockdown restrictions expected to be in place in some capacity for the long-term future – including the US’s ban on non-American residents entering the country – Fury’s planned bout against Wilder is currently impossible to schedule.
“With or without audiences, we can’t do (the third fight) while Fury can’t get back into the United States due to the travel ban,” Top Rank boss Arum told Sky Sports. “Wilder couldn’t get into England either.”
As a result, current IBF, WBA and WBO champion Joshua may find himself the main beneficiary, given both he and Fury are currently in the UK and in a position to fight behind closed doors once boxing resumes.
“Everything is possible,” added Arum, who is currently in charge of promoting Fury’s fights in the US. “We are all operating in territory where nobody has experience. I’m 88 but I’ve never had the experience to deal with this. We’re feeling our way.
“But everything is possible and nothing is off the table. We have to sit and discuss this, to figure out how to move into the future.
“I can’t predict when Fury vs Wilder will take place or if it will happen.
“Everybody in the UK wants to see the two Brits fighting, Fury and Joshua. When can that happen? I don’t know.”
Joshua has his own fight scheduled with the 2012 Olympic gold medallist due to face Kubrat Pulev in his next bout – a fight that has been postponed from its slot in 20 June and looks also set to be delayed beyond its back-up date of 25 July.
Yet even when boxing resumes behind closed doors, Arum fears fights of the magnitude of the heavyweight title showdowns may be too big to stage without fans because of the losses that would be experienced in gate receipts.
“This is not a normal situation where the promoter has all the answers,” Arum said.
“If we do fights without audiences, how do you do Fury vs Wilder without an audience? The live gate for the last fight accounted for almost $17m. How do you replace that?
“Hopefully by the winter they will allow people to attend sporting events.”
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