Tyson Fury contacted Deontay Wilder directly to capitalise on the breakdown in negotiations for a fight between the American and Anthony Joshua and persuade him he instead should be his next opponent.
The WBC heavyweight champion will next defend his title against Fury in Las Vegas in November. He travelled to Belfast to watch his rival defeat Francesco Pianeta at Windsor Park on Saturday, after which they confirmed their fight.
Fury’s status as his latest challenger comes after lengthy negotiations for a unification showdown with Joshua ended in frustration and, it transpires, after Fury independently concluded he was already ready for what he considers his “hardest fight”.
He returned after almost three years of inactivity on June 9 against the little-known Sefer Seferi and, despite then still being significantly above his fighting weight, he had already re-thought his initial plan to take several warm-up contests before challenging for a title.
An understanding exists between the pair, partly as a consequence of Fury revealing it was Wilder who helped inspire him to get into shape and return to the ring.
The American told Press Association Sport: “Fury contacted me and we had a great conversation. This was Instagram, on June 22.
“In that conversation he was apologising to me, about the situation that had occurred (in not securing the Joshua fight) and he told me, ‘They never wanted to fight you’. That they’d avoid me for as long as possible until (Joshua’s trainer) Rob McCracken says he’s ready.
“He said, ‘I promised you I’d fight you – let’s make this happen, it’ll be the biggest fight in the world’.
“I’ve always wanted the Tyson Fury fight. To finally get him, it’s a blessing. In our eyes he’s still the lineal champion, he’s undefeated.
Massive thanks & big respect to everyone who came & watch the fights last night. Great support.! I’m humbled.😍😍😍😍😍 pic.twitter.com/jCjnWHTWi5— DON TYSON FURY (@Tyson_Fury) August 19, 2018
“He’s still getting massive respect, he’s the man who beat the man. I can’t wait to meet the man that beat the man so when I beat the man I become the man, you understand?”
Those that make the 32-year-old the favourite to defend his title do so partly because of the belief that Fury is rushing into such a dangerous fight so soon into his comeback, while further observers believe Wilder will struggle with the Briton’s awkward style.
Wilder is instead convinced that not only is Fury already ready to challenge him in a fight that he says is “most definitely” bigger than one with Joshua, but that his stoppage of Cuba’s Luis Ortiz earlier this year provided the ideal preparation for a fighter with Fury’s strengths.
“He’s well ready for it,” he said. “He’s in perfect shape – probably the best shape of his life.
“If he’d never been a champion I’d have some concerns, but being a champion and knowing what it takes to beat a champion? No excuses. Being out for a long time? No excuses. Being out of shape? No excuses. People can always get back in shape. He still can fight.
“It’s just a different height. Ortiz is more experienced and been fighting just as long as Fury, if not longer. He’s definitely got way more amateur experience; the Cubans, that’s what they do.
“I’ve knocked out one guy and now I’m going for another. I’m not going to be denied.”