The postponements are piling up with coronavirus continuing to cause delays across the sports and entertainment landscape (not to mention its dire effect on the world economy). On the same day the Olympic Committee announced the Tokyo Games would no longer take place in 2020, boxing promoter Bob Arum had similar news to share, acknowledging Tuesday that the final installment of the Tyson Fury/Deontay Wilder trilogy has been pushed back indefinitely.
The battle of top-ranked heavyweights had been slated for July 18 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, where Fury and Wilder threw gloves back in February. That one was a lopsided affair with the undefeated Fury needing just seven rounds to dispatch the overmatched Wilder, who quickly exercised his contractual right to a rematch. That was a much different result from their initial fight a little over a year earlier when the two combatants fought to a split decision draw at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Though Wilder conceded Fury got the better of him in February’s much-anticipated sequel, the 6’7” Alabama native believes fatigue caused by a 40-pound costume he wore upon entering the ring was at least partially to blame for his unusually lackluster performance.
Wilder is understandably eager for redemption, but with the coronavirus epidemic bringing sports (and the world in general) to a standstill, he’ll have to wait a bit longer. Arum, who serves as Fury’s co-promoter, said he isn’t even sure if casinos on the Vegas Strip will be open come July 18. “Everybody has to take a step back,” Arum told ESPN on Tuesday. “Boxing is not isolated. It’s part of what’s happening in the world.” According to Arum, a fight in early October would probably be the best-case scenario for all parties, though COVID-19’s continued prevalence has made for a fluid situation. “Nobody has ever experienced anything like this before,” the long-time promoter added.
Boxing joins much of the sports world in taking a pause with the NBA, MLB and NHL each on hiatus. Staples like The Masters in Augusta, the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments and the Kentucky Derby have been similarly affected by the coronavirus, a rapidly-spreading illness that has claimed the lives of nearly 800 Americans with 55,000 confirmed cases and counting on U.S. soil.