LAS VEGAS — Even without the WBC yet to officially mandate a fight between heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and interim titlist Dillian Whyte, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told World Boxing News he is interested in making the fight anyway.
The first choice of Fury and his co-promoters, Bob Arum and Frank Warren, is for Fury to face three-belt world titlist Oleksandr Usyk around March for the undisputed championship. However, that is unlikely because Ukraine’s Usyk (19-0, 13 KOs), who outpointed Anthony Joshua on his London turf on Sept. 25 to take the belts in a major upset, is headed another fight with Joshua, who soon after the loss exercised his contractual right to an immediate rematch.
“The whole thing is easy,” Arum explained to World Boxing News at Mandalay Bay, where he was promoting the Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter welterweight world title fight. “If Joshua agrees to step aside, Fury will fight Usyk. If Joshua doesn’t agree to step aside, he will fight Usyk, and Fury will look for another opponent.”
That other opponent very well could be Whyte, Arum said.
“If we can make a voluntary deal with Dillian Whyte for the Fury fight, we’ll do it because I talked to Tyson and, obviously, he would prefer an Usyk fight, but if that can’t happen, he is quite content to fight Dillian Whyte or Joe Joyce,” Arum said of Fury’s two British countrymen.
A few days before Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOs), 33, knocked out Deontay Wilder in the eleventh round of their epic third fight on Oct. 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the WBC issued a resolution stating that the Fury-Wilder III winner would be mandated to next face the interim titleholder, which is Whyte unless they could finalize an undisputed title fight with Usyk within 30 days.
After Fury defeated Wilder in a leading candidate for 2021 fight of the year and the 30-day window to make the Usyk fight closed, the WBC did not officially order him to face Whyte, who had pulled out of an interim defense against Otto Wallin scheduled for Oct. 30 in London because of a shoulder injury.
The reason the WBC did not order Fury-Whyte, despite Whyte’s status as the interim titleholder, is because Whyte filed a grievance under the WBC rules against the WBC, and they are in arbitration in the Court of Arbitration for Sport related to whether is the mandatory challenger and what the purse split would be for the fight if it went to a purse bid. The WBC set the split at 80-20 in Fury’s favor if there, and Whyte is arguing for a greater piece of the pie.
“In light of the pending arbitration, the WBC is not making any pronouncement at this time and will provide information once appropriate,” the sanctioning body said in a statement this week.
BOB ARUM OPEN TO WHYTE
But even without the official order from the WBC, Arum said the Fury side is willing to negotiate a deal with Whyte to face Fury.
Arum said their side objected to the WBC ordering Fury-Whyte as a mandatory bout “because how could he be the mandatory when he got knocked out by Alexander Povetkin.”
Indeed, the 33-year-old Whyte (28-2, 19 KOs) got knocked cold by Povetkin in the fifth round in August 2020. Whyte has fought once since, an immediate rematch with Povetkin, whom he knocked out in the fourth round of a dominating performance to regain the interim belt and send Povetkin into retirement on March 27 in Gibraltar.
Bob Arum insisted that Whyte is “not the mandatory unless the arbitrator rules that he is the mandatory. But it won’t matter if we just make a regular fair deal for the fight.”
Whether Fury faces Whyte next or perhaps Joyce (13-0, 12 KOs), 36, the 2016 Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist and a top contender, Arum said he wants Fury to fight in the United Kingdom.
Fury has not boxed at home since August 2018, when he won a 10-round decision against Francesco Pianeta in the second fight of Fury’s comeback following a nearly three-year layoff due to a series of personal issues related to his struggle with drugs and alcohol as well as mental health issues.
Since then, Fury has fought all five of his fights in the United States (four in Las Vegas and one in Los Angeles), including all three fights with Wilder as well as bouts against Wallin and Tom Schwarz.
“I want him to fight in the U.K. He’s done five fights in a row in the United States,” Arum said.
Award-winning writer Dan Rafael is the Lead Boxing Contributor for World Boxing News. Follow Dan on social media @DanRafael1.