Heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder's one-punch, seventh-round knockout of Luis "King Kong" Ortiz in their rematch on Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas officially set up perhaps the biggest fight in boxing.
The rematch between Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury was signed months ago, but with two interim fights apiece for each man to get through, nothing was official until Wilder got through his 10th title defense safely.
Now the fight is on for Feb. 22, most likely at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, both sides told ESPN on Tuesday. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Fury's co-promoter with Frank Warren, said the fight will be a joint pay-per-view between ESPN, with whom Top Rank has an exclusive deal, and Fox, which has a deal with Premier Boxing Champions, where Wilder fights.
"We're going to have an announcement before Christmas, but the fight is happening Feb. 22. You can go to sleep on that," Arum said.
Arum said that next week he and Wilder's managers, Shelly Finkel and Al Haymon, who runs PBC, will meet to go over all of the logistics, including finalizing the site deal.
"It will all get worked out in early December as far as the site, but the 22nd is the date," Finkel said. "The site is not 100 percent set, but I'm not concerned about getting the site done. We'll meet about that and about when to make the official announcement, when to have a press conference. These are things that still need to get done."
Arum said he expects the fight to be held at the MGM Grand, which hosted Wilder-Ortiz as well as Fury's fight with Tom Schwarz on June 15. The casino was also the host hotel for Fury's bout with Otto Wallin, which took place on Sept. 14 at the MGM-owned T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
"There is no reason to believe the MGM won't do what they always do to attract a big fight because obviously this is the biggest fight, and no question the MGM loves to have the big fights," Arum said. "There's nothing written in stone, so Shelly is totally correct that the site is not 100 percent done, but all things being equal and the MGM does what they generally do, the fight will be at the MGM."
Arum said Feb. 22 was selected because it was an ideal date for the most promotion and marketing by ESPN and Fox.
"Everybody involved factored in that, it was the big date they could get the most bang and publicity for the event," Arum said. "The college football season is over, the NFL season is over, the playoffs haven't started yet in the NBA, and March Madness is a month away."
He said both networks will promote the fight heavily during their marquee sports telecasts, including the college football playoffs on ESPN and the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl on Fox.
Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs), 34, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs), 31, of England, first met in December 2018 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. They turned in a memorable fight in which Fury outboxed Wilder for long stretches, but Wilder scored two knockdowns -- one in the ninth round and a huge one in the 12th round that Fury somehow survived. The fight was ruled a split draw, with the judges scoring it 115-111 for Wilder, 114-112 for Fury and 113-113.
When they finally agreed to terms for a rematch -- a third fight is part of the deal -- each man was to have two interim fights. Fury got through his with a second-round wipeout of Schwarz and an unexpectedly grueling decision win over Wallin in which Fury suffered a horrendous cut over his eye. Wilder smoked mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale in the first round on May 18 and drilled Ortiz after struggling for the first six rounds on Saturday.