A sixth fight date is now attached to the title fight between Teofimo Lopez Jr. and George Kambosos Jr., though the latest suggested change will likely come with resistance.
Triller Fight Club, which won promotional rights to the lightweight championship fight, is considering plans to reschedule its Pay-Per-View event to October 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. News of the suggested move surfaced Monday, just two weeks out from the currently scheduled October 4 PPV date from Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.
“We’re trying to put it on the 16th instead of the 2nd,” Triller CEO Ryan Kavanaugh told The MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani during Monday’s show, though misidentifying the current October 4 date.
Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) is due to defend his lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight titles versus Australia’s Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs), who is the IBF-ordered mandatory challenger. The fight was first secured during a February 25 purse bid hearing, where Triller Fight Club submitted a winning bid of $6,018,000 in far outpacing Matchroom Boxing ($3,506,000) and Lopez’s career long promoter Top Rank ($2,315,000) in a development that served as an industry stunner.
Getting the matchup over the line has transformed the story line from game-changer to slapstick.
The fight has been moved from at least four announced dates, most recently changing from October 5 to October 4 for fear of going head-to-head with a potential one-game playoff between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Immediate public reaction noted the greater risk of viewership competition with ESPN’s Monday Night Football, which is since referenced as cause to seek yet another date.
“We just realized the [Las Vegas] Raiders game [versus the Los Angeles Chargers] is that Monday night,” acknowledged Kavanaugh. “Then we started looking at what else is that week. You got the [Major League Baseball] playoffs that night, a big fight later that weekend (third bout between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder on October 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas).
“What we really want to do, is do it at Barclays on the 16th with a whole Verzuz (battle) connected to it. It’s not official, we’re still as of now on the [4th]. There is a big discussion going on among management. The IBF already said OK as long as the fighters [agree]. The last Verzuz we did broke records… to be able to bring that audience to the Teofimo fight and pair them together and cross over, since he’s from Brooklyn, it’s a great date. It’s one of the only dates that makes sense without pushing it out too far.”
The proposed date falls within the deadline set by the IBF on August 9, along with Barclays Center—once a boxing hotbed but which has not hosted a boxing event since the pandemic—available that night.
However, it likely won’t fly with at least one side of the promotion.
Two sources involved in the event inform BoxingScene.com that one more date change will not be embraced, although not entirely ruled out at this point in the discussion. Frustration felt all around has left involved parties of the belief that it is best served to move forward with the confirmed date in place, at the risk of yet another postponement.
The fight was first confirmed to take place June 5 at loanDepot Park in Miami, before Triller moved back the event by two weeks to June 19. The move came once plans were announced for a June 6 PPV event topped by a Floyd Mayeather-Logan Paul exhibition at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The June 19 show was scrapped at the start of fight week due to Lopez testing positive for Covid-19. The fallout resulted in the entire 12-fight show being canceled, and the declaration of the event being moved to August 14.
Lopez was on board for the date, only for Triller to then move the fight to September 11 and then again to a mid-October date in Kambosos’ homeland of Australia.
It was the last straw for Lopez, whose attorney successfully argued that the unbeaten champion should not be subject to defending his title in a country where he is required to quarantine for two full weeks upon entry. The point was addressed by IBF president Daryl J. Peoples, who declared that the fight must take place by no later than October 17 and “in a location and venue that does not require quarantine.”
Triller then came back with plans to present the event as a mid-week PPV card on October 5 at MSG’s Hulu Theater before officially changing the fight to October 4.
Lopez will fight for the first time since defeating Vasyl Lomachenko in their three-belt unification clash last October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. The feat saw the brash Brooklyn native go on to be named 2020 Fighter of the Year, also coming ten months after a sensational second-round knockout of Richard Commey in December 2019 to win the IBF lightweight title.
Kambosos was named mandatory challenger after a twelve-round win over former featherweight titlist Lee Selby last Halloween at Wembley’s SSE Arena in London.
With both boxers being out of the ring for roughly the same amount of time, the expectation—barring a drastic change in conversation—is for the fight to either remain on the October 4 date or move to a courtroom.