Teofimo Lopez Jr. is not interested in waiting any longer than necessary for his next fight.
The lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight champion has placed pressure on the IBF to make a ruling regarding his upcoming title defense versus mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. Their oft-postponed title fight is now pushed back to a date in October in Australia, which prompted Lopez and his legal team to take action.
“We are in receipt of a request to allow postponement of the bout resulting from a purse [bid] held on February 25, 2021,” Patrick English, the renowned boxing attorney hired by Lopez cited to the IBF in an official letter on July 12, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “The request is to permit a postponement until October 14, 2021. We strongly object on behalf of Mr. Lopez to the request, which not only violates the IBF rules but which is impractical.
“This request comes on the top of an initial rules violation and then a contract violation by Proxima [Event Productions], which is a subsidiary of Triller.”
Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) and Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) were originally due to fight June 5 at loanDepot Park in Miami, Florida, per the terms of a February 25 purse bid hearing. Triller Fight Club won the rights to the championship fight after submitting a massive bid of $6,018,000, far outpacing Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and Bob Arum’s Top Rank, the latter who promotes Lopez.
The original terms of the purse bid called for the fight to take place within 90 days. The Pay-Per-View event was confirmed for June 5 during fight week for Triller’s previous outing this past April, ahead of Jake Paul’s first-round knockout of Ben Askren on April 17. Lopez-Kambosos was to have been paired up with an exhibition bout between Hall of Fame former two-division champion Evander Holyfield and Kevin McBride.
Given the scenario, Lopez and his side were fine with the fight taking place just outside of the specified deadline, given the career-high payday of $3,911,700 that he was due to earn. The contract submitted for a June 5 event was provided with the complaint, which noted that “the Holyfield/McBride talks fell apart and Triller had difficulties of its own making with the June 5 date and subsequently unilaterally announced that the bout was going to take place on June 19. Despite this announcement, Mr. Lopez received no contract for June 19, a fact we deem significant in assessing the good faith of Triller.”
The June 19 date was scrapped after Brooklyn’s Lopez tested positive for Covid, thus forcing event handlers to scramble for a new date. One was announced, with Triller revealing via official announcement that the show would take place August 14 at a location to be determined.
Subsequent reports and rumors suggested the date would not hold up and that an effort would be made to have Lopez-Kambosos as part of a September 11 Triller PPV event. The show is currently headlined by Hall of Fame former six division champion Oscar De La Hoya, who will face former UFC star Vitor Belfort in a boxing exhibition at a yet-to-be-named location in Las Vegas.
Such a date would have fit in what Lopez’s team deems a reasonable day, although the preference is to remain on the announced August 14 date. Even more reassuring would be a contract confirming the new date.
What the defending champion is not interested in, however, is waiting until October for his next and having to travel to Australia, where he will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period upon entering the country.
“Mr. Lopez was cleared of Covid on June 29 and all parties were so informed. Triller told the parties as well as making public announcements that the bout was scheduled for August 14. This allowed 45 days for Mr. Lopez to train, more than enough. However, despite numerous public announcements no contract was given to Mr. Lopez for the new date despite repeated requests from his management. Mr. Lopez was prepared to go forward on August 14th.
“Now Triller requests of the IBF permission to have the bout in Australia on October 14. That letter references the earlier proposed date of June 19 but completely ignores the fact that the sole contract ever executed was for June 5, prior to Mr. Lopez coming down with Covid. As a flimsy explanation Triller states that Mr. Kambosos returned to Australia. It does not explain why, after Mr. Lopez was cleared, Mr. Kambosos could not get on a plane and return to the United States, or why he could not do so now.”
For now, Lopez remains on the hook to honor the IBF mandatory defense. Kambosos worked his way into that position with a twelve-round decision win over Lee Selby in their title eliminator last Halloween in England. The feat came two weeks prior to Lopez upsetting three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-2, 10KOs) in their multi-belt unification clash last October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
A bout between Lopez and Kambosos was thoroughly discussed by the managers for both fighters—2020 Manager of the Year David McWater for Lopez, and Peter Kahn who guides Kambosos and now serves as chief boxing officer of Triller Fight Club. There were talks at one point of the fight heading to Australia last spring, only for those plans—or any other—to ever materialize.
Once a stalemate was reached, the IBF intervened and ordered a purse bid, leading to Triller securing the rights to the fight. Now five months later, the fight remains no further along—to which Lopez and his team look for answers sooner rather than later.
“We suspect that this is just a ploy and that if there and October date were to be approved some other problem with develop and it would not go forward,” English suggests in the complaint. “Time after time Triller's propose dates have collapsed. Please recall that all of this stems from a contract violation by Triller. If it had only gone forward in accordance with the sole contract which exists in this matter and which it filed with the IBF there would be no issue whatsoever. By violating the contract Triller created additional risk. Triller was responsible for that risk. It is also responsible for complying with IBF rules. The bait and switch which seems to be a continuing process by Triller and it must stop now. Triller must be told the absence of consent the IBF rules as logically applied require that thought about being held within 90 days from Mr. Lopez's clearance, or by the end of September.
“There is no authority, either contractual or under the rules of the IBF for this request to be granted. There is no authority nor logic for Triller to propose a site where, as we write this, the bout cannot be held. There is no authority for requiring Mr. Lopez to break training to quarantine in a hotel room 14 days before a bout. After conferring with Mr. Lopez and his management, we respectfully request that the IBF direct that Triller or its subsidiary provide a valid bout contract for a reasonable and practical site with the bout to take place by the end of September 2021, absent consent. In the absence of such a contract, Triller must be defaulted.”
The matter remains under review with the IBF, whose representatives did not respond to an inquiry from BoxingScene.com seeking comment. BoxingScene.com has learned, however, that resolution is expected by close of business day Wednesday as to whether Triller Fight Club can move forward with its plans for an October date in Australia or if stricter deadlines will force the fight to take place within the parameters of the purse bid and the sanctioning body’s rules.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox