Bob Arum says Deontay Wilder had no intention to step aside to allow Fury to fight Anthony Joshua. Arum cleared the air regarding the rumors that have been circulating since late last week.

Wilder was never quoted as saying such, and upon hearing news about the supposed $10 million offer, had his team reach out to Arum and Top Rank to quash the speculation.

Arum reported that “The Wilder people when they saw these stories made it known to us and MTK that Wilder was not amenable to step aside”.

Following Fury’s win over Wilder, the rematch clause was immediately enacted and an October date was proposed. Since then the dates have pushed back a bit and Arum said November or December was more likely.

The fight will almost certainly take place in the US, which is why the date of the fight is looking to be that late in the year. With Fury signed to a five-fight distribution-rights deal with ESPN and Wilder having a similar deal with Showtime, the two companies will want the fight on home soil.

With the current US situation with regards to COVID-19, the later dates are a more realistic proposition. The US is far behind Europe in terms of virus containment, with no immediate plans to reopen business and begin a metered return to normalcy. While the UK has plans to allow some sports to return as early as July, with some other European states looking at similar time frames, the US is still dealing with increased infection rates.

Prior to Wilder’s team approaching Arum to clarify that the news of the step-aside demands was false, Fury had already got on top of it and made a statement that he wouldn’t offer Wilder $2m, let alone $10m, to step aside. Fury was adamant he wants Wilder back in the ring, confident it would go exactly the same way as their second fight.

As soon as the news broke boxers and boxing reporters alike jumped in to hypothesize about Wilder’s angle, were the offer to be legit.  Wilder was pretty heavily criticized for considering a step-aside deal, with many accusing him of putting money before his pride and love for the sport.

What effect did these rumours have?

Given the psychological aspect of boxing warfare, alongside Fury’s fame as a master tactician and prankster, it’s clear to see why he’d be so quick to respond publicly to the rumors. Even if the rumors are baseless, Fury knows that by responding to them he lends them credibility.

Wilder has been open about his disdain for what he perceives as a lack of respect from the boxing community. If we’re being honest it is easy to see a pattern of criticism towards Wilder, as well as a pattern of praise and reverence for Fury and Joshua, not just in the UK but by boxing fans the world over.

The speed with which the step-aside deal was accepted as truth, followed by the amount of backlash he got in the press for something he apparently didn’t say, will surely have angered him and affected his state of mind ahead of the trilogy fight.

While Fury almost certainly didn’t fabricate the story himself, or have anything to do with it, in and out of the ring he is a master at exploiting openings to their fullest. So even while the news of Wilder offering to step-aside turned out to be false, the influence it had on public opinion of him and the possible effects on his mindset are very real.

What happens when Fury and Wilder meet again we don’t yet know but, in any case, the real fight has already started. 

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