One of the most highly anticipated purse bids in recent memory culminated Thursday when the new kid on the block in Triller and its owner Ryan Kavanaugh put up $6,018,000 to stage a lightweight fight between Teofimo Lopez Jr. and George Kambosos Jr.
Top Rank ended up bidding $2,315,000, while Matchroom placed a bid of $3,506,000, but Kavanaugh ultimately had the ace up his sleeve, as he and rapper Snoop Dogg look to continue to make their footprint felt in boxing with their upstart boxing series, Fight Club.
The WBA, WBO, IBF and WBC franchise Lopez has been promoted by Top Rank his entire career, but boss Bob Arum made it clear from the beginning that he wouldn’t be overpaying for the fight because Kambosos, an IBF mandatory challenger, was not a premium opponent.
“We were only going to pay what the fight was worth. We thought the fight was worth $2 million, but we stretched it a little bit,” Arum told BoxingScene.com in an interview minutes after the purse bid finished Thursday.
“It’s terrific and wonderful that Triller put a bid the way they did. I hope it works out for them because we made a lot of money in five minutes. Almost $800,000 is pretty good money. Sh--, that’s really great, because Lopez vs. Kambosos is not a premier attraction. It’s not a must-see fight like Oscar Valdez vs. Miguel Berchelt. It’s a fight between the guy who just beat Vasiliy Lomachenko against someone who is not an elite fighter. If it was Teofimo versus Ryan Garcia, the purse bid would be a whole lot different.
“Triller is spending this money in effect as marketing. Their model is different, and our model is different. We do 30 events a year. If they come into the market for real boxing and create inflation with PPV shows, so be it. Everybody makes good money.”
Arum said he had no issues with Triller taking his fighter to a different platform, especially since Top Rank will receive a handsome 20% cut totaling $782,340 from Lopez’s purse.
That figure will be subtracted from Lopez’s sum of $3,911,700, bringing his earnings to $3,129,360 for the fight. Kambosos will earn a maximum of $2,106,300 with a portion of his purse headed to his promoter in Lou DiBella.
Although a much-discussed meeting between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield has not been finalized yet, Arum said that with Triller winning the purse bid, “it gives me all of the knowledge in the world that [Tyson-Holyfield] is happening. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be insane. As a one-off, it makes no sense. But as part of that card, I can understand it.”
Kavanaugh told BoxingScene.com on Thursday that Lopez versus Kambosos will be a separate event in May and not staged on the same card as a potential Tyson-Holyfield match.
Arum said he has a three-and-a-half year contract with Lopez and he’s not concerned if the relationship could potentially sour moving forward.
If Lopez were to lose to Kambosos and return back to Arum and company, his purse minimums would be greatly reduced.
“If he wins and comes back to us and wants the same money that he got before, the answer is ‘no.’ So he sits out for a while. You can’t pay what you don’t have. He either fights, or he doesn’t fight. It’s easy,” said Arum. “Teofimo has a contract with us. There will be regular negotiations on his fights. Maybe Triller is so happy with Lopez they will give us a big number and buy out our contract with Lopez, which is fine also.”
Arum was also angry that Eddie Hearn showed up to his fighter’s purse bid and further complicated matters in a bout the British promoter had no ties with.
His position regarding Kavanaugh, however, was more pleasant.
“Kavanaugh is absolutely great for boxing,” said Arum. “He’s not doing anything bad for the sport. He’s done numbers in the past with Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. that nobody else has done in boxing on pay-per-view. He’s not a competitor though. If he contacted me and said we’d give close to $1 million to have the Teofimo fight, don’t you think I would have agreed? Triller is not competition to ESPN. They are totally different businesses. ESPN could care less that Teofimo is on Triller, so good luck to them.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com