Decision taken after Wilder and Fury engaged in a shoving, shouting match during the final press conference on Wednesday
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder will not be allowed to face off nose-to-nose, chest-to-chest at Friday’s weigh-in here at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, with promoter Bob Arum and WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman insisting there is no sense in risking trouble between the teams ahead of what is now a behemoth promotion.
It was the Nevada State Athletic Commission who chose to impose the restrictions on the two heavyweight boxers. The NSAC took the decision after Wilder and Fury engaged in a shoving, shouting match during the final press conference on Wednesday, before Saturday’s showdown. “Nothing has happened with two TV networks like this in the US, and we don’t want anything going wrong,” said Arum, reacting to the decision. “It is right. It is just a huge fight now, and we want nothing to stop it going ahead.”
The weigh-in has always been one of the set-pieces of boxing, and ‘facing off’ is a ready way of exciting an audience. “Look what happened with Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson all those years ago,” added Sulaiman. “No-one wants to risk a mishap in what is being widely seen as the heavyweight fight to decide the No 1 heavyweight of the generation.”
Between them, Wilder and Fury are undefeated in 73 fights, the champion, Wilder, carrying a 95 per cent knockout rate, and Fury, statistically, one of the most elusive movers in heavyweight boxing; a man who dethroned the decade-long champion Wladimir Klitschko five years ago.
This rematch, following the nature of their controversial drawn fight in Los Angeles 14 months ago, has brought together rival networks FOX Sports and ESPN in a joint broadcast, making the fight worth around $200 million, if the pay-per-view figures reach the two million mark. It costs $80 in the USA to buy. The boxers are expected to earn more than $40m.
The fight has become so big, in fact, that Amy Klobuschar, the Senator for Minnesota who is taking part in the Presidential Debate here at the Paris Hotel, mentioned the fight. “If we are going to carry this on, we might as well ago to the rematch here in Vegas on Saturday night,” she said.
This heavyweight fight has crossed over. And the show must go on. There are too many eyeballs on boxing right now.