After months of postponements and back-and-forths, Triller Fight Club is dropping one of its most anticipated fights of the year.
On Saturday, Yahoo Sports reported that Triller would no longer feature the unified lightweight title defense of Teofimo Lopez against Australian challenger George Kambosos. Triller had originally won the rights to promote the fight with a bid of $6.018 million, but finally decided it had had enough of the drama from trying to get the fight off the ground and pulled the plug.
The fight has been promoted by Triller as taking place on Monday at Madison Square Garden, though a letter from Triller COO Thorstein Meier to IBF president Daryl Peoples and IBF attorney Linda Torres listed it as having been scheduled for Oct. 16, according to World Boxing News.
“[With] the advertising we’d lined up, the performance marketing we’d lined up, the radio spots, the television spots, all this stuff, quite frankly it’s fair to say that at the moment, we’re between $9 million to $10 million in promotional dollars, promotional money, that we’ve spent to promote this fight,” Meier told Yahoo Sports. “We’ve gotten nothing out of it and … this is why we’re saying enough is enough.”
Now, how the fight takes place — or whether it does at all — has been thrown into question as it will need to find a new promoter and date.
Trouble getting off the ground
When Lopez and his promoter, Top Rank, couldn’t reach a deal to face the IBF mandatory challenger, Kambosos, the matchup between the two went to a purse bid back in February. Triller won with a staggering $6.018 million, blowing away the next closest bid made by Matchroom and Eddie Hearn at $3.56 million, according to The Ring. Lopez was slated to receive a 65-35 share of the bid.
At first, it looked like the fight would be held on June 5, but, according to Yahoo Sports, the June 6 fight between Floyd Mayweather and YouTube personality Logan Paul changed the decision-making. The fight was then slated to take place on June 19 in LoanDepot Park in Miami, but a positive COVID-19 test from Lopez on June 15 postponed it.
Yahoo Sports reported that after the postponement of the fight, Triller asked Kambosos to remain in the United States and that it would rent a home for him and fly his girlfriend to the U.S. so she could stay with him, but he did not want his child to be born in the U.S., so he returned to Australia for the birth of his third child, who was born in late September.
The Associated Press reported that the fight was going to be pushed to Aug. 14, but with a Marlins baseball game scheduled at LoanDepot, the venue had to be changed again.
There had been discussions of having the fight in Australia on Oct. 17, but because Australia required a two-week quarantine upon arriving in the country, Lopez’s team argued against the relocation. The IBF sided with Lopez and said the fight would have to take place by Oct. 17 and that contracts were required to be turned in by Aug. 24, according to ESPN.
Though there was talk that it could be moved to the Middle East, it wound up being moved to Oct. 5 in New York. The fight then had to be moved up to Oct. 4 to avoid the potential for the American League wild-card game taking place in New York on Oct. 5, according to World Boxing News.
On Aug. 23, ESPN’s Mike Coppinger reported that contracts were being sent over for the fight to take place in New York on Oct. 4.
Why Triller dropped the fight
Triller decided to move the fight again, this time to Oct. 16 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn because of the Oct. 4 date coinciding with “Monday Night Football,” World Boxing News reported. Lopez agreed to the amendment, but Kambosos did not, saying that he would only sign it if his purse money was placed in an escrow account.
Yahoo Sports also reported that after the fight was scheduled for Oct. 4, Kambosos’ lawyer, Greg Smith, had written the IBF to ask for an extension on the Oct. 17 deadline for up to 30 days to try to have it scheduled for a later date in October. Smith wrote in the letter that Kambosos could fly to New York, but said there weren’t any flights to return to Syndey until early November.
“Upon return to Australia, Mr. Kambosos will face a mandatory 14 day quarantine. While he understands that the IBF has no control over Australia’s COVID policies, it would not be equitable for Mr. Kambosos to be stranded in the United States for nearly a month after the bout before he can fly home to begin the quarantine process,” Smith wrote, according to Yahoo Sports.
When Triller declined the purse advance of $400,000, Kambosos did not fly out to the United States, missing a $37,000 flight, according to Yahoo Sports, and Triller was forced to take the fight off the Oct. 16 card. Yahoo Sports reported that Triller asked the IBF to default Kambosos and have a new purse bid with Lopez taking on Isaac Cruz, the next-highest challenger. World Boxing News reported that Smith is seeking the IBF to declare Triller in default, which would split the deposit money to Lopez and Kambosos on the 65-35 split and send the fight over to Matchroom Boxing. Top Rank would have the next offer should Matchroom Boxing decline.
Triller attorney Farhad Novian wrote in a letter to the IBF, obtained by World Boxing News, that “enough is enough.” Novian wrote in the letter that Kambosos’ manager, Peter Kahn, who was also hired as Triller’s chief boxing officer while still Kambosos’ manager, had touted the fight as an exciting purse bid, but that now Triller believes there was collusion among various promoters and that they all agreed to not compete against one another.
“This fact later came out publicly through emails and other correspondence which have been published in various outlets, which we note the IBF has to date done nothing about. This collusion directly violates the IBF’s rules and regulations, but that is not the intent of this correspondence. My client was encouraged to bid on this Purse Bid, which it did, and ultimately won the bid for approximately $6 million dollars,” Novian wrote in the letter. “Since that time, while my client has followed every single rule and regulation, and has gone above and beyond, my client has in turn been, ‘milked’, potentially ‘extorted’, lied to, and now, we believe, stuck in the middle of what is nothing more than a political sham involving the IBF, (Lopez promoter) Top Rank, PBC, (Lopez manager David) McWater and others.”
Yahoo Sports reported that Kahn recused himself from Kambosos business while with Triller, though it noted that it was still a violation of the Muhammad Ali Act’s prohibition on working as both promoter and manager simultaneously.
What’s next for Lopez-Kambosos?
The match has lost its promoter just as it seemed the two boxers were slated to have their fight.
Now, the two sides will have to find a new promoter. Should the IBF rule in Kambosos’ favor and rule that Triller is in default, ESPN reports that the fight would revert to Matchroom Boxing, and that a fight would be held on DAZN before the end of 2021.
Lopez and Kambosos would each receive decent paydays from the initial Triller deposit of $1.2 million, with Lopez receiving $780,000 and Kambosos receiving $420,000, ESPN reported. A lawsuit by the two fighters against Triller could potentially net them more money, closer to the original payments of $3,911,700 to Lopez and $2,106,300 to Kambosos that would have come from the original bid of $6.018 million. Then, if the Matchroom bid of $3.506 million winds up bagging the fight, Lopez will receive $2,278,900 and Kambosos would net $1,227,100 from Matchroom.
As for Triller, there is still a boxing card slated for Oct. 16 at the Barclays Center, though it will no longer carry the weight of the Lopez-Kambosos headline.
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