The highly anticipated Feb. 22 rematch between heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury is now official with a site deal complete and tickets ready to go on sale on Saturday.
Top Rank and Premier Boxing champions announced on Friday that the fight, as expected, will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will headline a joint pay-per-view between Fury broadcaster ESPN and PBC partner Fox, which also handled Wilder’s Nov. 23 pay-per-view fight, a rematch against Luis “King Kong” Ortiz at the MGM Grand.
“I’m happy and I’m excited that the rematch is finally happening,” said Wilder, who will make his 11th title defense. “I want to give the fans what they want to see. I’ve been doing it with my last three outings — Fury, (Dominic) Breazeale and Ortiz. They’ve been spectacular events — from my ring walks where I gather all the energy of the people, to my uniforms that I wear to help spread that energy. Then I give them what they all come for — the knockouts, and my knockouts have been amazing.
“I proved myself the first time and I’m ready to do it again. It was a very controversial fight. I promise my fans that there won’t be any controversy with this one. I’m going to finish it.”
When Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs), 34, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs), 31, of England, met last December at Staples Center in Los Angeles they turned in a memorable fight that ended in a controversial draw that most had Fury winning.
Fury outboxed Wilder for long stretches, but Wilder scored two knockdowns — one in the ninth round and a massive one in the 12th that Fury somehow survived before the bout was ruled a split draw. Wilder won 115-111, Fury got the nod 114-112 and the third judge scored it 113-113.
Fury, who will make the sixth defense of the lineal title, said he is also pumped up for the sequel, which he will enter after having parted ways with trainer Ben Davison earlier this month to go with Javan “Sugar” Hill, the nephew of the late International Boxing Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward.
Fury and Hill had gotten to know each other a decade ago when Fury spent time training in a Steward camp.
“There’s no more ducking and diving,” Fury said. “The date has been set, and the ‘Bomb Squad’ is about to be securely detonated and the real champion crowned as the world watches on for the most anticipated fight in years. This is unfinished business for me, but come Feb. 22, this dosser will finally get what’s coming to him, and I can’t wait.”
Wilder, however, hardly ducked the rematch with Fury. After the first fight last December, Wilder and Fury both called for an immediate rematch and they had a deal in principle agreed to for a fight this past spring, only for Fury to surprisingly go in another direction. He signed with Top Rank to co-promote him with Frank Warren and aligned with ESPN, where Top Rank has a long-term exclusive deal.
Wilder and Fury finally did agree to the rematch in a rare deal between rivals Top Rank and PBC, one that also includes a third Wilder-Fury bout. But before the rematch would take place, the deal called for each to first have two interim bouts. Wilder and Fury got through those bouts to set themselves up for much bigger paydays than they would have received had they had the rematch right away.
Fury won both of his bouts against obscure opponents. He blew out Tom Schwarz in the second round on June 15 at the MGM Grand and then had an unexpectedly grueling decision win over Otto Wallin on Sept. 14 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, where Fury suffered two horrendous cuts over his right eye. The cuts, one a gaping wound, required 47 stitches to close.
Wilder also handled his business with a pair of highlight-reel knockouts. He destroyed mandatory challenger Breazeale in the first round on May 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and then rallied from a lopsided deficit on the scorecards to drill Ortiz in the seventh round last month — after struggling for the first six rounds — in what was the final hurdle to he and Fury meeting again.