EXCLUSIVE: Bob Arum details how Covid-19 ravaged Tyson Fury camp
Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury received one vaccination shot against Covid-19 but decided not to get the second dose needed to complete the course because he was worried about having a reaction that would force him to miss training camp time in preparation for his third fight with former titleholder Deontay Wilder, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum exclusively told World Boxing News.
Then Fury wound up contracting Covid-19, which forced him to postpone the joint ESPN and Fox Sports pay-per-view fight with Wilder from July 24 until Oct. 9 at T-Mobile Arena.
“He said that he got the first shot when he was in Miami and then he had to wait the two weeks, and he didn’t want to get the second shot because he heard that people had a reaction from a second shot and he didn’t want to lose any training time. Hey, I’m not Dr. (Anthony) Fauci. That’s what he said,” Arum said.
Fury ultimately tested positive for Covid-19 on July 5 and became symptomatic before the fight was postponed on July 8. On July 13, Fury tested negative.
A month earlier, on June 15, at the kickoff news conference in Los Angeles to formally announced Fury-Wilder III for July 24, Arum told media members that Fury was “totally vaccinated.”
When asked about that statement by World Boxing News, Arum said, “They told me he was vaccinated. I assumed it was two shots. Who gets vaccinated and doesn’t (get he second shot)? He only had one shot.
“I never knew that he hadn’t (gotten the second one) until he got sick. I really screamed at all of them. It was a complete f— up. The people in the gym, I mean, we had no controls. It was like every sparring partner brought his friend, other corner people. (Trainer) SugarHill (Steward) had these Russians (he trains) running around. There was absolutely no precaution taken, which a lot of it was our fault. We should have been the adult in the room.”
Arum said Fury returned to England last Friday to be with his pregnant wife, who is soon due to give birth and to take a break before he will resume training for the reschedule date.
Arum insisted that when Fury does return to Las Vegas, things will be much different when it comes to access to the Top Rank Gym, where Fury is holding his training camp.
“What we’re going to do now is nobody is allowed in the gym unless it’s imperative that they’re there,” Arum said. “We’re not going to allow press in the gym, and nobody is coming into the gym without getting a fast (Covid-19) test. Nobody.”
Arum recalled his meeting with Fury after learning of his Covid-19 diagnosis. He said Fury was “very disappointed” he had gotten ill and that the fight had to be postponed.
“He has a beautiful home that he bought in (Las) Vegas, and I went over to the home the next day (after the diagnosis),” Arum said. “At that particular point, he was having trouble — not (trouble) breathing — but his lungs were filled up with mucus or whatever. His cook came down with it, a couple of the sparring partners. (Heavyweight) Efe (Ajagba) came down with it. So if it had occurred two weeks earlier, he would have gone through with the fight, but he wasn’t going to be able for at least a week to do anything, and that would have given him just a couple of weeks (more of training), including the fight week, and that wouldn’t have been enough.
“We talked from across the room. I had a mask on, and he had a mask on. He was lethargic. When I talked to him, he wasn’t like a guy who was really sick, ready for an ICU. He was a guy who had all that congestion in his chest.”
TYSON FURY SECOND SHOT
When asked if Fury had received a second shot, Arum was blunt.
“I have no idea,” he said.
When asked why Fury was seen in photos posted to social media of him at locations around Las Vegas taking photos with fans and not wearing a mask just a few days later, Arum had no answer for Fury’s actions.
Arum said Steward and heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson, a Fury sparring partner, who was also scheduled to be on the pay-per-view on July 24, both received their two vaccine shots and did not come down with Covid-19 as it ran rampant through the Top Rank Gym. But Arum said other regulars at the gym did not get vaccinated,
He said that Ajagba, who was scheduled to fight on the July 24 undercard against fellow unbeaten rising contender Frank Sanchez, “was feeling so dizzy we took him to the hospital, and he spent a few hours in the hospital” and that he would have been off the card had it taken place as scheduled. Ajagba and Anderson will now fight on the rescheduled date.
Arum also said that former heavyweight world titlist Joseph Parker, who was training at the gym because Fury’s assistant trainer, Andy Lee, is also Parker’s head trainer, also got Covid-19.
“Parker denied it, but he had it,” Arum said.
Arum also addressed those, including rival promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, who have insisted the fight was postponed because of lagging ticket sales and not because Fury came down with Covid-19.
“All those people on social media who said, ‘hey, it was because of slow ticket sales,’ — yeah, slow ticket sales. We had $15 million in the bank from ticket sales. This is not like a fighter pulls out because his shoulder hurts. Bicep hurts. There, there might be room for suspicion.”
But Arum said Fury’s diagnosis was reported to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
“As soon as the first Covid thing broke out, we notified the commission,” Arum said. “They put in charge the doctor who was our Covid doctor during the bubble (that began last summer and ran though this past spring).”
While Fury did not complete his round of vaccinations, Wilder and his immediate team did at the insistence of his management, even though they were initially reluctant.
“They did the right thing, and they’re to be commended, and we didn’t do the right thing,” Arum said. “We were operating in the haze that the pandemic was over.”