- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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I awoke Thursday to a press release in my inbox from British promoter Frank Warren announcing a “blockbuster” card (aren’t they all?) for June 15 at Wembley Arena in London. The main event, Warren said, would be a heavyweight showdown between England’s Dereck Chisora and American hopeful Deontay Wilder, the untested 2008 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist who has, so far, shown destructive power in his right hand against a series of cream puff opponents.
My initial reaction to reading the release was that I didn’t believe it and my intuition was correct. Warren, as it turns out, was premature in his announcement. Maybe the fight ultimately will happen, but even that doesn’t look good, according to Golden Boy, Wilder’s promoter.
Warren has given all of us good reason to doubt his announcements since he has made so many over the years that simply did not come to fruition, such as the recent debacle with the Ricky Burns-Miguel Vazquez lightweight unification fight, which few believed would take place and then did not.
When I see a Warren release announcing a fight card -- especially with no quotes or confirmation from both sides -- my radar goes up. And it was on red alert after reading Thursday’s missive.
I had just been on the phone with Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer on Wednesday evening and he was going over the company’s upcoming schedule (which is loaded) and Wilder’s name never came up.
So when I checked in with Golden Boy on Thursday after Warren’s announcement the answer from matchmaker Eric Gomez, who was negotiating the deal with Warren matchmaker Dean Powell, was, “No, no deal. They jumped the gun. There's issues with Deontay traveling, because of the arrest. I asked them not to announce until it is resolved. They didn't listen.”
Wilder (28-0, 28 KOs), 27, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., got arrested on Saturday in Las Vegas, where he was in town for the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero fight. According to the Clark County Detention Center, Wilder was arrested Saturday for “domestic battery by strangulation” and released on a $15,000 bond. Details of the incident are unclear.
Not only is Wilder’s arrest an issue but Gomez said he had just gotten a nine-page contract for the fight on Wednesday that had to be reviewed. Gomez said they had to talk to Wilder’s attorney about the arrest and also have their attorney, Arnold Joseph, go over the contract before the fight could be made.
“I specifically told them do not announce anything,” Gomez said. “We just got the contract and we’re still reviewing it. Right now, the fight’s not looking good, though. I told [Powell] to send over the contract. We did get a contract from them but I told them we still have to resolve the issue of the arrest and also go over the contract.”
Gomez said he and Powell traded several emails on Wednesday with Powell saying they wanted to announce the fight Thursday and Gomez telling him not to.
“We were negotiating the fight and talking and we went over the deal points,” Gomez said. “I said send over a contract and we can start looking at it. They wanted to announce it. I wrote back to him and said, ‘Please don’t announce anything. I’m waiting to hear from [Wilder's] attorney and we need to review the contract.’ They asked again Thursday morning if they could announce it and I said, ‘No, please don’t announce it.’ They just went ahead and announced it and now it looks like there will be an issue.”
Schaefer was also surprised that the fight was announced.
“That’s not something we would do. Why did he announce it when we don’t have a deal,” Schaefer said. “That’s not a way to make deals, it’s a way to kill deals. We sent them like four emails telling them not to announce it and sure enough they go and announce it. They wanted a quote from me for the press release but I wouldn’t give it to them because it wasn’t done.”
Wilder had his first pro fight in England on April 27 on the undercard of Amir Khan’s win against Julio Diaz. Wilder wiped out England’s totally shot Audley Harrison in just 70 seconds.
Chisora (16-4, 10 KOs) ended a three-fight losing streak (including a loss to Vitali Klitschko in a heavyweight world title fight) on April 20 by stopping journeyman Hector Avila in the ninth round.