British heavyweight boxing star Tyson Fury has reportedly signed a TV deal worth £80 million ($103.4 million) with US sports broadcasting giant ESPN.
The tie-up will see Fury’s future fights co-promoted by Top Rank, which has a multi-year partnership with ESPN, and current promoter Frank Warren’s Queensbury Promotions.
All of the 30-year-old’s bouts will be shown in the US across ESPN networks and ESPN+, the broadcaster’s over-the-top (OTT) subscription service, while the events will continue to air on BT Sport in the UK.
The deal, however, holds threat for the proposed rematch between Fury and Deontay Wilder. However, Fury has insisted that the bout will not be “more makebale than now than ever before”.
According to British daily The Guardian, Negotiations for a rematch, following December’s controversial draw in Los Angeles, were expected to conclude in an agreement for Fury and Wilder to fight in the US in May but they are now likely to end in frustration given Wilder has a deal with the network Showtime.
Meanwhile, the ESPN-Fury deal will have at least two mandatory bouts in the USA every year.
“I’m delighted that Frank and Queensberry Promotions have teamed up with Top Rank to promote my fights in America,” Fury has announced. “With ESPN and BT Sport behind me, the biggest sports platforms in the world are now linked up with the best heavyweight in the world.”
It remains unclear what Fury’s exclusive US deal with ESPN could mean for a potential rematch with American boxer and WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, who has worked exclusively with Showtime throughout his career. If a rematch were to go ahead, ESPN and Showtime would have to come to an agreement over the coverage of Fury’s fights in the US.
Fury’s first bout with Wilder in December was one of the fights of 2018, with the Brit twice getting up off the canvas – including a miraculous recovery in the 12th round – before the judges controversially ruled the clash a draw.
Fury’s promoter Warren has also insisted that the Wilder-Fury rematch still cannot be ruled out.
“This is a great move for Tyson Fury and a great move for Queensberry Promotions,” said Warren. “By partnering with ESPN and Top Rank in America, we’re giving our boxers, including Tyson, the opportunity to perform on the biggest and most powerful platforms on both sides of the Atlantic and become truly global stars.”
Although the deal could make it less likely for Fury and Joshua to meet in the ring, it sees the former land a major blow in the British pair’s battle for global popularity. ESPN is a staple of US sports broadcasting, reaching more than 90 million households in the country alone and announced earlier this month that ESPN+ had already amassed two million subscribers. DAZN, meanwhile, only launched in the US in September.
“Top Rank is very excited to enter into the promotional arrangement along with Queensberry Promotions for the lineal heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury,” added Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “He is a generational heavyweight talent at the peak of his powers. We also look forward to our growing relationship with MTK Global, which represents so many world-class fighters.”