Tyson Fury signs USA TV deal
Tyson Fury has signed a TV deal with American broadcaster ESPN to show the Brit’s fights overseas. The five-fight contract is believed to be worth £80 million to Fury.
Former heavyweight champion of the world, Tyson Fury, has taken advantage of his growing popularity stateside by signing a broadcast agreement with American broadcaster ESPN. The deal, which will not affect his current BT Sport one, will see his next five fights shown on the Walt Disney owned company. This tie-up with ESPN will see well-known promoter Frank Warren take a back seat to promoting Fury with the responsibilities handed to Top Rank’s Bob Arum.
While this is good news for Fury and his team, £80m is a rich payday for his heroics against Deontay Wilder. This unexpected announcement has concerned a lot of people. Expecting the Tyson Fury press conference to be the announcement of the re-match between Fury and Wilder, the ESPN tie-up raises a lot of questions, with many fearing it signifies the end of a golden age of boxing.
Even a short few weeks ago, few boxing publications gave many column inches to Fury or Wilder in another context except when the fight would be announced. Both fighters stated they wanted it, it was a fight the public wanted to see, it was a money-making machine, with the winner facing an even more lucrative fight against Anthony Joshua.
With Fury’s announcement, the landscape becomes more confused and some experts fear that as the top heavyweights have exclusive deals to broadcast fights, the likelihood of fights being arranged becomes much more complicated.
Fury has an exclusive agreement with BT Sport for the UK audience and this new deal with ESPN for the American audience. Anthony Joshua has an agreement with Sky Sports for the UK and has chosen streaming service DAZN as his American promoter. With Deontay Wilder signed up with Showtime in the USA, it is easy to see the minefield that awaits. A year that held the promise of Wilder v Fury, Fury v Joshua or Fury v Joshua could end up with a damp squib of bouts with the top fighters contractually unable to fight whom the public want to see.
However, Fury’s promoter Frank Warren believes the agreement with ESPN makes the anticipated re-match with Wilder, “more makeable now than ever”. He expressed a belief that this arrangement gave the Fury brand status and believed it would give him the platform to arrange better fights. Arguing that as ESPN is the biggest sporting network in the world, promoters will be forced to come to him.
Warren, of course, is serving the best interests of his client and there is little doubt that both him and Fury will benefit greatly from the ESPN deal that could span several years. The timing of the deal, although coming as a surprise, is also perfectly timed. Knowing in boxing that a fighter is only ever one bad performance away from being old news.
It could also be considered a gamble. Anthony Joshua has seen his stock plummet since announcing his next fight against Jarrell Miller. Whilst the American is, like Joshua, unbeaten, the public wanted the box office gold of AJ facing Fury or Wilder.