Looks like it’s back to the shadows for Daniel Kinahan.
It’s been barely two weeks since heavyweight champion Tyson Fury effusively thanked the alleged Irish mob boss on his Instagram account for closing a deal for a two-fight series against Anthony Joshua, and a mere nine days since Deadspin brought the potentially unholy alliance to the attention of ESPN, which replayed Fury’s video on its fight broadcast the night of June 14.
At the time, an ESPN executive denied any knowledge of who Kinahan even was, despite the fact his name and resume, which includes alleged drug dealing and murder, had been all over the U.K. media. ESPN’s play-dumb routine was especially puzzling since Kinahan is believed to have been instrumental in helping the network reach an agreement on its seven-year deal to broadcast Top Rank’s fights.
Promoter Bob Arum, the CEO of Top Rank, was on record acknowledging Kinahan’s shady past while calling him “an honorable man’’ and saying he was willing to let bygones be bygones, as long as there was money to be made with him and Fury.
Well, by Wednesday morning it turns out even Arum, who has done business with his share of shady characters, saw too much shade around Kinahan. According to The Daily Telegraph, both Arum and Fury have decided to opt out of the Kinahan relationship.
“Over the weekend I’ve had a lot of conversations with Tyson Fury and what we both decided is that myself, Top Rank and Fury will do all negotiations for fights in the future,” Arum told Gareth Davies of The Daily Telegraph. “We’ve talked with Dan, who Tyson and I both love and admire and respect, and he understands that it’s best the negotiations on Tyson’s side be handled that way. Both Tyson and I have each discussed this with Dan and he is amenable and satisfied and wished us luck. He only wants the best for Tyson Fury.’’
Said an ESPN spokesperson, “Like we’ve said we have never had any involvement with Kinahan and our deal is with Top Rank..“Consistent with that, we had no involvement here either.”
This ostensibly means that Kinahan is out. But boxing history is rife with examples of unsavory figures guiding the careers of fighters from behind the scenes. Owney Madden, Frank Costello, Blinky Palermo, and Frankie Carbo all had their fingers in the lucrative boxing pie over the past century, but without being publicly acknowledged by the fighters they were controlling. According to sources in the industry, Kinahan, more a disciple of the John Gotti school of celebrity mobster, craves publicity and desires to be seen as legitimate, hence his briefly emerging from the shadows with Fury.
Kinahan, currently living in exile in Dubai, was the founder of MTK Global, which holds promotional rights to over 150 fighters in Ireland and around the world, including Fury. Although Kinahan sold his interest in the company several years ago and no longer holds an official position with the company, an MTK employee last week told Deadspin that he still has strong ties to Fury, super-middleweight Billy Joe Saunders, former featherweight champion Carl Frampton, and up-and-coming Irish feather Mick Conlan.
According to the MTK employee, Kinahan is an “advisor’’ to those and other MTK fighters, but draws no salary for his work. “Dan just loves boxing,’’ the employee said.
But in the days following Fury’s video, the influence of Kinahan was denounced on the floor of the Irish parliament and two of the U.K.’s leading sports programmers, Sky Sports and BT Sport, issued public statements distancing themselves from Kinahan.
The split may mean that the Fury-Joshua series, which was expected to get underway in the summer of 2021, may be delayed. Fury already has a contractual commitment to grant a third fight to former champion Deontay Wilder, who Fury knocked out in February. And Joshua has a mandatory defense of his alphabet soup title against Kubrat Pulev to handle first. Arum told the Telegraph that Top Rank will handle all future negotiations for the Fury-Wilder fight.
“That’s the way it’s going to be,’’ Arum said.
Publicly, anyway. History tells us that guys like Daniel Kinahan do their best work under cover of darkness.