‘Fury, Wilder’s fight points to a historic heavyweight event’
Tyson Fury’s rematch with Deontay Wilder is the most significant in two decades of the heavyweight division, according to the 5 Live Boxing team.
Briton Fury and Wilder will meet on 22 February having drawn in 2018.
The American’s WBC title will be on the line, meaning Fury could become a world champion for the first time since 2015.
“I think it is the biggest heavyweight fight since Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis in 1999,” said BBC Sport boxing correspondent Mike Costello.
‘A monster occasion’
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Fury and Wilder had been expected to face off in an immediate rematch but both have gone on to land two victories, meaning they remain unbeaten going into the contest at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand.
Anthony Joshua holds the other three major heavyweight titles, so the winner would be in a position to potentially negotiate a contest with the Briton and bid to become the first man to hold all four belts in the division.
Costello added: “How big is this fight? Fury’s promoter Bob Arum has been talking about it being the most significant for the division for 20 years. That’s something I agree with.
“One reporter has said it’s the most significant since the rematch of Holyfield v Mike Tyson in 1997. I would go for 1999 and the two fights between Lewis and Holyfield, as they were hugely significant for the heavyweight division.
“You’d be hard-pressed in the two decades since to mention a fight of more significance than this. I know we spoke about going to Saudi Arabia for Joshua v Andy Ruiz in December and about how big that was for us. I ranked that in my top six events I’ve ever covered.
“That was monumental because of the impact it might have had on Joshua’s career and has had because he won. Rematches are so important to this sport and become monster occasions with the narrative of a first fight.”
BBC Radio 5 Live boxing analyst Steve Bunce said: “I would throw Tyson and Lewis in 2002 in. Even though we knew it was a shell of Tyson, it still felt big. This fight is with those fights.
“There have been moments I doubted it would happen, simply because there are so many alternatives, avenues and revenue streams.”
Arum has told the 5 Live Boxing podcast he expects the bout to be bought over two million times on pay-per-view television in the United States.
The 88-year-old American promoter believes the contest will resonate with sports fans, rather than just a hardcore boxing audience, with the help of big US networks.
“We have as our megaphones, Fox and ESPN,” Arum said. “They cover so much of the major American football, basketball and sports that resonate in the US, and they will be talking about this fight from now until it happens.
“That will really catch the attention of all sports fans. Both fighters will be featured on the Fox telecast of the Super Bowl on 2nd February. That’s an audience of 80-90 million in America - so pretty good exposure.”
Fury was floored twice - heavily in the 12th round - by Wilder in Los Angeles, but many of those ringside believed he had done enough to win.
The 31-year-old - promoted by Frank Warren in the UK - signed with Arum’s Top Rank organisation to guide his career in the US three months later, and has since beaten German Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin of Sweden.
Wilder, 34, knocked out compatriot Dominic Breazeale and - despite being well behind on the scorecards - stopped Cuba’s Luis Ortiz with a spectacular right hand seven rounds into their rematch in November.
“Arum said he would make Fury a star and he has done exactly what he said he would do,” Bunce added. “He has turned Fury into a heavyweight people flock to.
“Bob has changed the face of Fury in America. The British fans might have missed out on seeing Fury in the UK last year but boxing has benefited.
“This is the essential start to the year. We thought last year, without a doubt, the fight would happen in May. It never did.
“Fury delivered two performances and had his WWE wrestling match in Saudi Arabia, so he raised his profile. I thought Wilder delivered two of the cleanest knockouts I have ever seen in the heavyweight division - they were legendary. Thankfully,
Wilder and Fury are now together.”
• Culled from BBCSPORT.COM