Deontay Wilder was left standing alone without a megabout when Anthony Joshua declined to fight him in a heavyweight showdown this year.
For weeks, the boxing world assumed Wilder would fight a journeyman next, while Joshua got all the spotlight for his Sept. 22 bout against Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium.
There’s only one way to upstage a stadium fight — a pay-per-view megabout in the fight capital of the world.
Wilder, 32, traveled to Belfast, Northern Ireland, last week to announce he will defend his WBC heavyweight title against Tyson Fury in Las Vegas in November or December. The Showtime PPV fight will be at T-Mobile Arena, people familiar with the negotiations confirmed, and the network is expected to announce the date next week.
“This fight is definitely bigger than the Joshua fight,” Wilder said. “This is the biggest fight in boxing right here. It don’t get any bigger than this. I’m sorry, this is the heavyweight division.
“You got two tall awkward guys. One has power, and the other with skills and the ability of boxing. … I promise you, the fight will live up to the hype.”
The 6-foot-7-inch Wilder (40-0, 39 knockouts) entered the ring in Belfast to challenge the 6-9 Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) after Fury won a unanimous decision over Francesco Pianeta. The bout was Fury’s second since he ended a near three-year hiatus.
Fury, the lineal champion, was on his way to stardom after he upset Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015 to win the WBA, WBO and IBF belts.
The British fighter, known as the “Gypsy King,” traveled to Brooklyn, New York, in January 2016 to call out Wilder in the ring for a bout that would have crowned an undisputed heavyweight champion.
Fury, 30, vacated the belts to battle a drug addiction and mental health issues, and ballooned to 378 pounds while inactive.
He made his return in June and stopped Sefer Seferi in four rounds. Fury now appears to be in shape, weighing 258 pounds in his fight last week.
“Fury told me he promised me a fight, which he did years ago, before he even became champion, way back in 2012,” Wilder said. “He was very apologetic about what was going on with one of his countrymen (Joshua) who didn’t want to fight. He understands true champions come together to fight.”
Wilder, an Alabama native, said he was surprised by the positive response Belfast boxing fans gave him. They bombarded him with picture requests, chased his car and waited in front of his hotel for hours.
Wilder’s profile will continue to grow in the buildup against the charismatic Fury.
“I finally have somebody who can sell the fight with me,” Wilder said.
Joshua, the WBA/IBF/WBO champion, and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, have said they want the Wilder fight to happen in April in London. Wilder said Joshua isn’t on his mind.
“Joshua had an opportunity to make a lot of money,” Wilder said. “He got too full of himself. Eddie outsmarted himself and was stating Joshua is the main man in the heavyweight division and ran everything. That’s not the case, and we’re going to prove it to them. We’re showing them right now.”
Sept. 13: Golden Boy Boxing, Hard Rock Hotel, ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Sept. 15: Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, T-Mobile Arena, HBO PPV
Sept. 22: Sin City Showdown, Sam’s Town, Mayweather Promotions’ Facebook page
Oct. 20: Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant, Mandalay Bay Events Center, ESPN+