Teofimo Lopez Jr. received the king’s ransom he feels he deserves, just not from the party with whom such demands were previously made.
Triller Fight Club’s Ryan Kavanaugh has secured the promotional rights to Lopez’s mandatory title defense versus Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. The Triller CEO submitted a whopping $6,018,000 during a purse bid hearing held Thursday at IBF headquarters in Springfield, New Jersey and remotely via Zoom conference call for out-of-state registered promoters.
The amount far exceeded that of the bid by Matchroom Boxing who bid $3,506,000 in hopes of bringing the event to DAZN and Top Rank, Lopez’s promoter whose bid of $2,315,000 wasn’t enough to keep the fight on an ESPN platform.
Thursday’s session brings closure to failed negotiation which date back to the fight first landing on both boxer’s radar last fall. Lopez Jr. (16-0, 12KOs) entered his Oct. 17th multi-belt lightweight title unification bout with Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) knowing that the winner would be on the hook to honor an overdue mandatory title defense obligation with the IBF.
Lopez claimed a 12-round unanimous decision in the high-profile win, which was enough to secure Fighter of the Year honors in a pandemic-stricken 2020 boxing year.
With it, the unbeaten 23-year old lightweight also earned the WBA and WBO titles which are also at stake for his forthcoming showdown versus Kambosos. Lopez was also designated as WBC “Franchise” champion with the win, though such a distinction is not transferable. Top Rank had to request such status for Lopez in the event he were to beat Lomachenko, who was previously named WBC “Franchise” champ in Oct. 2019, at which point he vacated the physical belt.
Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs) presently serves as the WBC lightweight titlist.
Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) emerged as his next challenger following a hard-fought 12-round unanimous decision victory over former featherweight titlist Wales’ Lee Selby last Halloween at SSE Arena, Wembley in London. The victory was Kambosos’ second straight over a previous beltholder, having outpointed ex-lightweight titlist Mickey Bey in Dec. 2019 on a Madison Square Garden show which saw Brooklyn’s Lopez claim the IBF belt with a 2nd round knockout of Richard Commey.
On the heels of Lopez and Kambosos scoring their respective wins in October came preliminary discussion between camps. Hall of Fame promoters Bob Arum (Lopez) and Lou DiBella (Kambosos) sought to work things out on their end, as did the boxer’s respective managers David McWater (Lopez) and Peter Kahn (Kambosos).
Talks stalled, however, due to internal issues with Lopez’s team. The unbeaten lineal lightweight king felt it was time for Arum’s Top Rank to pay up, insisting he took less than fair market value in order to proceed with the Lomachenko fight and that it was time for proper compensation heading into the ordered title fight. There were talks of Lopez hitting the road, with a springtime fight targeted in Sydney or Melbourne where Kambosos would boast a regional advantage in terms of crowd support.
The IBF intervened once it was clear that negotiations reached an impasse, first formally ordering the title fight and a 30-day negotiation period beginning Jan. 8th. The Feb. 8th deadline arrived with talks no further along than was the case even at the start of the new year, prompting the IBF to schedule a purse bid hearing for Feb. 18th. The session was postponed by one week due to a snowstorm which impacted much of the Northeast section of the United States, including New Jersey.
Per the terms of the purse bid for any sanctioned IBF title fight, the defending champ is entitled to the favorable end of a 65/35 split. In terms of the submitted amount, Lopez is due to make $3,911,700, which he will have to further split with Top Rank since the company is no longer the lead promoter. The remaining $2,106,300 will go to Kambosos and his team.
Triller Fight Club made its boxing debut last November, enjoying a highly successful Pay-Per-View venture headlined by the eight-round exhibition match between legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones. Jr. The show featured the second pro fight of Jake Paul, who scored a highlight reel knockout of former NBA star Nate Robinson.
Paul is due to next face former UFC fighter Ben Askren on a PPV show reportedly set for April 17. Details as to when Triller plans to stage Lopez-Kambosos were not made available during the purse bid.