Promoter Bob Arum is predicting 500,000 pay-per-view buys from on ESPN for WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s defense against mandatory Dillian Whyte on April 23rd in the UK.
This is a fight that will create a huge amount of interest in the UK, but it might not register on the radar screens for Americans.
Whyte’s knockout loss to 40-year-old Alexander Povetkin two years ago in 2020, and the way that he pulled out of his recent fight with Otto Wallin. He’s not the ideal heavyweight that you’d want as an opponent for Fury.
Despite the Fury-Whyte fight taking place in the UK, Arum says that it’ll create a lot of interest in the US and that “Everyone will get behind it.’
Arum has been around long enough to predict what the US reaction will be to the Fury vs. Whyte fight, so he’s probably right. It will generate a lot of interest from the US and likely bring in around 500K PPV buys on ESPN.
Of course, what Arum can’t predict is whether Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) will help out with the promotion of the fight. There are some who believe he’s going to drag his feet, and choose not to help due to the purse split not being what he wanted.
Arum expects huge interest
“I think it’s a great fight and it’ll get a great reception from fans on both sides of the water,” said Bob Arum to iFL TV on the Fury vs. Whyte fight.
“I never had any dialogue with the Whyte people, and that’s unfortunate,” said Arum. “When we win a purse bid, my history is we go and launch a big promotion.
“I want both sides as happy as possible, and both sides cooperate in the promotion. Both sides realize that whatever animosity they have with each other, boxing needs that kind of cooperation because there will be press conferences and all of that,” said Arum.
We’ll soon see whether Whyte will help out with the promotion of the fight. If he chooses not to lift a finger in promoting, Arum is going to need to come up with a strategy to have someone from Whyte’s team that will do the talking for him.
Manny Pacquiao’s fights did well in the US with his trainer Freddie Roach doing most of the talking during his career. The American fans didn’t mind. So if Whyte chooses not to help with the promotion, Fury and the media can use Hearn to help promote the fight.
“Frank will have a press conference this coming week, and I’ll be flying over and I hope to have an opportunity to talk to the Dillian Whyte people to make them as happy as possible,” said Arum.
“Whyte has a great chance because he’s a big puncher, and he’s a rugged heavyweight and a very experienced heavyweight. If anything, he poses a bigger danger to Tyson than [Deontay] Wilder did, and Wilder had Tyson on the deck twice.
“I look forward to a really great heavyweight fight. You know boxing and you’ve seen the power that Dillian Whyte has,” said Arum.
Whyte can definitely hurt Fury with the power that he possesses. As long as Whyte’s stamina holds out, he’s a real threat.
Arum predicts half-million PPV buys
“Maybe they use the Usyk-Joshua fight to do that.” We think it has a good chance to do half a million buys,” said Arum when asked how many PPV buys Fury vs. Whyte does on ESPN PPV in the US
“Yeah, because everyone will get behind it. That’s what our projections are to half a million,” said Arum in predicting 500K PPV buys for Fury-Whyte.
“We’re a little bit bigger country [than the UK]. We’re going to explain to Team Whyte side that if Eddie [Hearn] had won the bid and they got the 70-30 that they wanted, that’s pretty close to 80-20 on our bid and maybe we could work something out.
“I don’t like litigation. It’s sort of stupid and takes up a lot of time, and it only makes the attorneys rich.
“I don’t know about Cardiff,” said Arum when asked if he’s going to be staging the Fury vs. Whyte fight in Cardiff, Wales. “That’s up to Frank [Warren]. Maybe Cardiff or maybe the football venues in your part of the world at that time of the year will be available.
“We might want to breathe the fresh air and do it outside. That’s not true,” said Arum when told that Hearn said that the reason the step aside deal didn’t work is that Fury wanted a tune-up fight in March.
We’ll see if Arum’s prediction is correct about the Fury-Whyte fight doing 500,000 buys. I doubt know that it will, but it’s possible.
Purse bid money explained
“It came from two of our partners, who had invested a lot of money in Tyson Fury and didn’t want to lose the fight,” said Arum when asked where the money came from for Top Rank’s winning $41 million purse bid last Friday.
“BT will be the principal distributor [for Fury vs. Whyte] in the UK, and Sky has made their platform available as well.
“So it should do enormous business in the UK. ESPN in the United States will be the distributor but not to the exclusion of the normal outlets like the cable systems and the satellite dishes.
“Even though it’ll come in an early hour on ESPN, it will still do extremely well. Neither of our broadcast partners wanted to lose that fight to Eddie [Hearn] and DAZN. Not that there’s any animosity, but competition is competition.
“He [Hearn] had the backing of DAZN and it would have been a showcase for DAZN, which is trying to build a presence, particularly in the UK.
“I think from their strategy of pretty much having failed in the United States to really build any momentum, they had a much better chance in the UK,” said Arum of DAZN. “This [Fury vs. Whyte] would have really helped to launch them in the UK.
It’s going to be difficult for the Fury vs. Whyte promotion to bring in over $41 million to cover the cost of the purse bid.
Step aside deal was doomed
“The way this was handled it was convoluted,” said Arum on the step aside deal that collapsed for Anthony Joshua and Whyte. “First, you had to get Joshua signed to a step aside. Joshua never signed anything, as he said. That’s what Joshua said, that he never signed anything.
“Then they had a real Dillian Whyte problem because not only did Whyte have to step aside for one fight, but for two fights and I don’t know if he signed anything.
“Then there was the whole problem with the Saudis and the television rights. The rights that ran to BT and the rights that ran to ESPN, and that was never addressed. So it was all wishful thinking.
“They didn’t take into account all of these factors. Tyson saw that and he said, ‘Wow, this is going down a split road that’s never going to find an ending.’ He said, ‘I just want to fight.’
“This is the easy way to do it,” said Arum about Fury fighting Whyte and Anthony Joshua battling Oleksandr Usyk.
Joshua didn’t like the idea of being seen taking a step aside deal because the image that it would present to boxing fans is that he’s ducking Usyk.