A long overdue clash for the world lightweight championship will finally see the light of day.
The oft-postponed lineal/WBA/IBF/WBO lightweight title fight between defending champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) and mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. (19-0, 10KOs) is likely to remain stateside. BoxingScene,com has been informed by representatives directly involved with the event that a fight date has been set aside for October 5 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City.
The bout will headline a mid-week Pay-Per-View event presented by Triller Fight Club, with terms pending signed contracts submitted to the IBF by no later than close of business Tuesday.
ESPN.com boxing insider Mike Coppinger was the first to report news of the latest development in what has been a wild ordeal surrounding this fight.
Triller Fight Club first secured the rights to the bout after submitting a whopping $6,018,000 during a purse bid hearing conducted by the IBF on February 25. Terms of the purse bid called for the fight to take place within 90 days, only for the goalposts repeatedly moving as no fewer than six dates have been assigned to this bout.
Initial plans called for a May 29 showdown, with the event quickly moved to June 5 at loanDepot Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins. Brooklyn’s Lopez and Australia’s Kambosos both signed contracts confirming the date, only for the event to pushed back by two weeks upon the announcement of a June 6 Showtime Pay-Per-View-headlining exhibition match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Logan Paul in neighboring Miami Gardens.
The June 19 date was scrapped days before the rescheduled event after Lopez tested positive for Covid, cancelling the full 12-card lineup as well as an accompanying music concert. Triller was quick to announce a rescheduled date of August 14, only for those plans to never materialize.
The fight was suggested to serve as part of a September 11 Triller Pay-Per-View headlined by the comeback of Hall of Fame former six-division titlist Oscar De La Hoya, before floating a potential mid-October date in Kambosos’ native Australia. Lopez’s side took issue with the fight being pushed back that far and with event handlers attempting to relocate the show to a country that requires two-way 14-day quarantine periods.
The latter part was successfully appealed, with the IBF ruling that the fight needs to take place no later than October 17 but in a country that doesn’t require quarantine upon entry. Previous reports suggested the fight potentially landing in the Middle East—to which Lopez’s side was agreeable—before reportedly settling on the early October PPV in New York City, mere miles from the defending champion’s Brooklyn stomping grounds.
Lopez will make the first defense as lineal/WBA/WBO champion and second defense of his IBF belt. The 2020 Fighter of the Year has not fought since unifying the aforementioned belts in a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Vasiliy Lomachenko last October 17 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Kambosos secured his place as IBF mandatory challenger just two weeks later, outpointing Wales’ former featherweight titlist Lee Selby last Halloween on the road in the United Kingdom.
Talks between Lopez and Kambosos were officially ordered earlier this year, with the two sides having already discussed preliminary plans for the fight. Early indications suggested the event heading to Australia in April, only to hit a wall and for a purse bid hearing to be ordered. Triller Fight Club made headlines after significantly outbidding Matchroom Boxing ($3,506,000) and Top Rank ($2,315,000)—Lopez’s promoter—to secure the rights to the fight.
Per the purse bid terms, Lopez and his team entitled to 65%, or $3,911,700. The remaining $2,106,300 goes to Kambosos and his team, which includes Hall of Fame promoter Lou DiBella, as well as manager Peter Kahn who also serves as chief boxing officer of Triller Fight Club.
Signed contracts for the fight are required to be submitted to the IBF by Tuesday to avoid defaulting on the purse bid. Should that happen, the next highest bidder will be eligible to earn the promotional rights to the fight. Matchroom Boxing has not given any indication as to securing the rights, while Top Rank is on record stating a willingness to pick up the tab and present the event on an ESPN platform.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox