Teofimo Lopez has watched event handlers take plans all around the world for his next fight, only to potentially wind up back home.
The latest development in the ongoing saga surrounding Lopez’s IBF-ordered lightweight title fight versus mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. now has the Triller Fight Club Pay-Per-View event potentially taking place October 16 at Barclays Center in Lopez’s hometown of Brooklyn, New York. The likely shift—rumored earlier in the week though initially shot down by all participants—comes despite a ruling by the IBF calling for Triller to stick to the contractually agreed October 4 date at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in nearby New York City.
BoxingScene.com has learned that Lopez has since agreed to the new date. Australia’s Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) has yet to sign a contract confirming his being on board with the change in plans. Once new contracts are executed, the IBF will likely comply given that all involved parties agree—in writing—with the sixth date attached to a fight ordered earlier this year.
Triller Fight Club representatives were not in position to comment on the latest move as it remains a fluid situation, other than confirming plans were in place to move forward with the new date and location.
BoxingScene.com has since learned that a formal announcement is expected in the coming days. Should the event move forward in its latest form, it will mark the first boxing event at Barclays Center since the pandemic.
Triller CEO Ryan Kavanaugh suggested to The MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani earlier this week of talks in place to move the event, though the idea was rejected at the time by both boxers through their legal teams.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the IBF sent legal notice to Triller’s lawyers—with attorneys and team members for Lopez and Kambosos included—insisting on the fight remaining on course for October 4. Furthermore, a deadline was—and remains, for the moment—in place for proof of travel secured for Kambosos by Thursday 11:59pm ET.
Representatives for MSG were initially resistant to the event being pulled from their establishment. BoxingScene.com has since learned that no such hurdle remains in potentially moving the event, thought it will cost Triller—at a minimum—the deposit placed to secure the venue. Tickets have been on sale since September 14 for the PPV event, which at the time carried a suggested retail price of $49.99.
The date change would put the event back on a Saturday evening, complete with musical acts and a Verzuz battle, as has become the staple of Triller’s business model since purchasing the online music platform in March.
Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) is due to make the second defense of his IBF title, as well as his first as the division’s lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO champion since outpointing Vasiliy Lomachenko (15-2, 11KOs) last October at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Lopez won the WBA/WBO belts and vacant lineal championship along with defending his IBF title.
The bout took place two weeks prior to Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) becoming the official challenger to the IBF title following a twelve-round decision victory over Lee Selby last Halloween in London.
Both boxers appeared on the same show for their previous respective outings. Lopez won the IBF title in a second-round knockout of Richard Commey in the main room at MSG in December 2019. The first fight of the show saw Kambosos outlast former lightweight titlist Mickey Bey to win a ten-round decision, positioning himself to land a title eliminator with the right to challenge for the IBF belt.
Shortly after their separate wins last October, the teams for Lopez and Kambosos discussed plans for a potential spring showdown in Australia before such talks turned to a stateside fight. A deal was not reached in time for the fight to head to a purse bid hearing, where Triller Fight Club entered the equation after submitting a winning bid of $6,018,000 to claim promotional control of the title fight.
By significantly outbidding Matchroom Boxing ($3,506,000) and Lopez’s career long promoter Top Rank ($2,315,000), Triller puffed its proverbial chest in the air in claiming itself as an industry disruptor. Their only success in that regard thus far, has been disrupting their own event.
No fewer than five fight dates have been attached to this event, beginning with plans for a June 5 PPV headliner from loanDepot Park, home to Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins. Triller moved off the date once Showtime announced plans for a June 6 PPV topped by the exhibition between Floyd Mayweather and Logan Paul at nearby Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
A new fight date of June 19 fell apart at the start of fight week, as it was revealed that Lopez tested positive for Covid-19 which resulted in the cancellation of a twelve-fight show accompanied by numerous musical acts. Triller irrationally declared that the event would be rescheduled for August 14, to which Lopez agreed. That date quickly transitioned to September 11 as part of another PPV event before exploring the possibility of staging the event in mid-October in Kambosos’ native Australia.
Lopez put his foot down by that point, threatening legal action over such a move and insisting he preferred the August 14 date initially announced. His legal team also argued that, as the defending champion, he should not be required to travel to Australia where he would have to quarantine for fourteen days upon arrival.
The matter was reviewed by the IBF, ultimately splitting the baby in allowing a deadline of October 17 for the fight to take place in order to avoid a purse bid default. However, the sanctioning body also ruled that the fight could not take place in any country where either party would be subject to pre-fight quarantine.
That led to the decision of hosting the event in New York City during the first week of October. A date of October 5 was revealed before moving it up one night to October 4. In recent days, Kavanaugh expressed concern over going head-to-head with the NFL’s Monday Night Football. It was theorized by Kavanaugh that the event would benefit from one final rescheduling to October 16 in Brooklyn, which now seems very much in play.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox