Bob Arum wants to use the fairytale power of the Disney empire to turn Tyson Fury into the most famous athlete in the world.
Fury returns to the ring on June 15, when he takes on unheralded German Tom Schwarz at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The fight is Fury’s first since he signed a money-spinning deal with legendary promoter Arum and ESPN.
Now 87, Arum has worked with many of the finest fighters in history, including Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Manny Pacquiao. And starting on June 15, he hopes to make Fury the latest fighter to transcend the sport.
‘When I met with Tyson I realised he will mesmerise the US market, he has the ability – that will care of itself… (but) as a personality he is going to take the US by storm,’ Arum said.
ESPN is among the television networks owned by The Walt Disney Company and Arum hopes to make the most of the mainstream exposure their kingdom can offer.
‘He will booked on our late night shows on ABC with Jimmy Kimmel… (we’re) not satisfied making an impact with boxing or sports fans, we want the public at large to know him, to take care for him, to listen to his story. I think he can be the most famous athlete in the world, that’s our goal.’
He added: ‘A year from now he will be the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and not only that, when people say who are the greatest sportsmen in the world he will be, if not No 1, in the top 3.’
Fury insisted he ‘is not too interested’ in being famous, claiming: ‘I don’t go to any media premieres, I don’t go to these celebrity dos, I don’t have any celebrity pals… I live in Lancashire for God’s sake, if I was interested in being famous I’d live in London not Lancashire.’
But Arum highlighted George Foreman as the fighter whose blueprint he hopes Fury can follow.
‘Tyson asked me what my motivation was in doing this and I told him that for me and I have been doing this almost 55 years, the best thing as a promoter is to be with an athlete and build him in and out of the ring into a superstar,’ he said.
‘I started with Ali… later on I had Marvin Hagler, Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Pacquiao, Mayweather and George Foreman and in talking with Tyson I realised that we could do for him what we did for George Foreman – he had great career, had 10 years off, came back and he set the world one fire, the boxing world, sports world. Not only with ability but with his charisma, he became larger than life.’
Heavyweight Tyson Fury takes on Tom Schwarz, live on BT Sport Box Office, Saturday 15 June. For more information go to www.bt.com/btsportboxoffice.