When heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury and former titleholder Deontay Wilder meet for the third time on July 24 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the main event will be accompanied by a trio of other heavyweight fights on the undercard of the pay-per-view broadcast.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, Fury’s co-promoter with Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions, said Top Rank and Premier Boxing Champions, which represents Wilder, handled the construction of the undercard in the same manner that they did for the Fury-Wilder rematch that took place in February 2020 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, meaning Top Rank got to make one fight of its choice, PBC did a fight of its choosing, and one fight will match a Top Rank boxer with one from the PBC stable.
Arum, who said there will be a formal news conference to announce Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder III on Tuesday in Los Angeles, outlined the undercard exclusively for World Boxing News.
In the co-feature, PBC will put on a rematch between Robert Helenius and Adam Kownacki. But, two rising contenders will meet before that bout when Top Rank’s Efe Ajagba, a former PBC fighter, squares off with PBC’s Frank Sanchez.
Top Rank will put on top prospect Jared Anderson in the opening bout against Vladimir Treshkin in a scheduled eight-rounder.
“An all heavyweight pay-per-view,” Arum said. “It’s better to do all heavyweights, good heavyweight fights, with the heavyweight championship rather than these smaller guys. They have a good one, Helenius-Kownacki. And Ajagba-Sanchez? Is it competitive? You’re god damn right. Nobody wants a non-competitive fight. They shouldn’t want that. And Anderson is going to fight an undefeated guy, a good undefeated fighter.”
Helenius (30-3, 19 KOs), 37, of Finland, scored a significant upset when he knocked out Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs), 32, in the fourth round on March 7, 2020, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the Poland-born Kownacki’s hometown. The fight, which headlined a PBC on Fox card, was the last major fight before the coronavirus pandemic shut boxing down for several months.
Kownacki, who had been on the fast track to a world title opportunity, exercised his contractual right to a rematch, and they will meet again, although a few months later than originally planned.
The 27-year-old Ajagba (15-0, 12 KOs), a 2016 Olympian for Nigeria, who is based in Houston, has shown tremendous one-punch power, including a highlight-reel knockout in his most recent fight, which was a third-round destruction of Brian Howard on April 10 on the undercard of the vacant WBO light heavyweight title bout between Joe Smith Jr. and Maxim Vlasov in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Sanchez (18-0, 13 KOs), 28, a Cuba native fighting out of Miami, is part of trainer Eddy Reynoso’s camp, including pound-pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez. Sanchez has been fighting on Alvarez’s undercards, most recently a one-sided sixth-round technical decision over journeyman Nagy Aguilera on May 8 on the Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders show at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Blue-chip prospect Anderson (9-0, 9 KOs), 21, of Toledo, Ohio, has been impressive in each of his fights so far, including his last bout, a second-round knockout of Jeremiah Karpency, April 10 on the Smith-Vlasov show.
On paper, Treshkin (22-0-1, 12 KOs), a southpaw from Russia, appears to be a step up in competition for Anderson. Treshkin, who has fought in several countries, will box for the second time in the United States. He is coming off a fourth-round knockout of then-unbeaten Francisco Silvens in November 2019 in Jamaica.
Arum said working with PBC to put the undercard together was easy.
“No problem. It took five minutes,” Arum said, adding that it was helpful that both companies had heavyweights in their stable to draw from.
While Arum and PBC boss Al Haymon have been longtime rivals, he said they and their staff got along well during the promotions for Fury-Wilder II last year, and he anticipates the same professionalism this time around.
“I never said an adverse word about PBC regarding the promotion of the last fight,” Arum said. “Somehow, maybe because we’re all such professionals, everybody worked together seamlessly. There was never an argument that I know of. Everybody was working and helping out, and the idea is to put as much money into the pot as you can.
“This will be even better, I think, because both sides are so used to working together, and (Top Rank president) Todd (duBoef) and (PBC’s Bruce) Binkow really admire each other, and there’s no nonsense. There wasn’t any nonsense last time.”
DEONTAY WILDER ARBITRATION
Arum said there were no hard feelings between the groups after Deontay Wilder won an arbitration case against Fury to force the third fight rather than Fury being able to meet Anthony Joshua on Aug. 14 for the undisputed world championship.
“We’re professionals,” Arum said. “It’s (the arbitration) is over.”
As for the site of Fury-Wilder III, Top Rank and PBC had looked into the prospect of having the fight at the new Allegiant Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, but ultimately decided on T-Mobile Arena, which Arum said will be open at 100 percent capacity.
“What it turned out to be was we looked at the cost structure for the stadium, and it was much more expensive than T-Mobile,” Arum said. “We looked at the football stadium, and then we realized that to get decent seats, we would put maybe 40,000, 45,000 seats in the Allegiant Stadium, but we were better off we felt with 20,000, which would sell out, and then put closed-circuit all over Clark County (home to Las Vegas), which is what we’re going to do.”
Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder will be live on Pay-Per-View on July 24.