Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are set for their trilogy fight for the WBC heavyweight championship -- again.
The battle between big men is now set for Oct. 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Top Rank announced Thursday. The fight, an ESPN+ and Fox pay-per-view, was scheduled for July 24 but was postponed last Thursday after Fury tested positive for COVID-19 amid an outbreak in his camp. ESPN reported at the time that Oct. 9 was the target date for the rescheduled title tilt.
Per sources, Fury was tested on July 5 and was notified of the positive result the next day.
He tested negative on Tuesday and shortly after that was cleared by doctors to travel home. Fury received the first vaccine shot and experienced mild symptoms.
"I wanted nothing more than to smash the 'Big Dosser' on July 24, but I guess the beating will have to wait," Fury said. "Make no mistake, I will be back and better than ever. We will fight Oct. 9, and I will knock him spark out!"
The champion, ESPN's No. 6 pound-for-pound boxer, needs time to recover and resume training camp, pushing the fight to October, but there were also other considerations. Manny Pacquiao and Errol Spence Jr. meet in a major pay-per-view title fight on Aug. 21. Canelo Alvarez, boxing's biggest star, remains in talks for a Sept. 18 fight with Caleb Plant.
Top Rank and PBC, which will co-promote Fury-Wilder, along with ESPN and Fox, are trying to maximize PPV revenue for the third meeting. The second fight, which Fury won by seventh-round TKO in February 2020, generated nearly $17 million at the gate, a Nevada record for a heavyweight title fight.
"It was a crazy roller coaster toward this fight," Fury said at last month's news conference in Los Angeles to promote the fight. "I always say, 'You're never fighting someone until you're in the ring opposite them.'"
Three other heavyweight bouts -- Efe Ajagba vs. Frank Sanchez, Robert Helenius vs. Adam Kownacki 2 and Jared Anderson vs. Vladimir Tereshkin -- that were originally scheduled as part of the July 24 undercard have also been moved to Oct. 9, sources tell ESPN.
The first fight between Fury and Wilder was in December 2018, a disputed draw. Despite Fury suffering two knockdowns -- including one in the final round -- most observers believed he deserved the nod.
The "Gypsy King" left no doubt in the rematch, scoring two knockdowns himself en route to a seventh-round stoppage after Wilder's cornerman, Mark Breland, threw in the towel.
Neither Fury, 32, nor Wilder has appeared in the ring since. Wilder, 35, exercised his contractual right to a third fight afterward, but the pandemic prevented Top Rank (Fury's promoter) and PBC from staging the fight before a full audience.
Top Rank and PBC attempted to stage the bout last December after a previously planned October date was deemed unfeasible due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the unexpected resumption of the college football season left few available PPV dates in the final month of 2020 with two networks involved.
Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) and his team then considered the rematch clause expired and pushed forward with negotiations for a megafight with fellow Englishman Anthony Joshua, which would crown an undisputed heavyweight champion. The sides agreed to a deal in May, with Fury announcing on May 16 that the fight would take place Aug. 14 in Saudi Arabia.
In the background, an independent arbitrator, Daniel Weinstein, was determining whether Fury indeed owed Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) a third fight. Top Rank chairman Bob Arum was deposed, as was his stepson, Top Rank president Todd duBoef. So, too, were PBC founder Al Haymon, Wilder manager Shelly Finkel and PBC executive Bruce Binkow. Fury and Wilder also gave depositions.
On May 17, one day after Fury announced he would meet Joshua in August, Weinstein ruled that he owed Wilder another fight.
"I didn't feel any way about Fury trying to negotiate another fight," Wilder said at the news conference last month in Los Angeles. "We knew we were in the right, and we knew they couldn't run."
Now Wilder has a new date circled on his calendar for that long-awaited shot at revenge.