Triller Fight Club will have to honor current plans in place, for a change.
The oft-rescheduled lineal/WBA/WBO/IBF lightweight championship between Brooklyn’s Teofimo Lopez and Australia’s George Kambosos remains on course to take place October 4 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City. The suggestion of moving the fight to yet another date (October 16) and location (Barclays Center in Brooklyn) has been met with mass resistance by all involved parties, including the IBF who ordered the fight earlier this year and will not stand for any more delays.
“We expect no additional postponements and the fight to take place on October 4, 2021 as per the contracts,” Linda Torres, lead counsel for the IBF informed the attorneys for Lopez, Kambosos and Triller via official letter, a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Mr. Kambosos has clearly expressed that he is unwilling to fly around the world until Triller has complied with its obligations to provide a plan to get him home in a reasonable time and manner.
“Given that Mr. Kambosos is scheduled to depart Australia on September 25, the IBF agrees that Triller must fulfill its obligations to secure round-trip travel no later than September 23, 2021. Mr. Kambosos should be able to undertake his final preparations for the fight knowing that plans have been confirmed to get him home after the event.”
Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) is due to make the second defense of his IBF title, as well as his first as the division’s unified 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 to 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 defauit. 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—which has been in existence since 1970—and with the rest of the week loaded with MLB Playoffs and ending with the trilogy clash between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, which tops an October 9 ESPN+/Fox Sports PPV event from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
It was theorized by Kavanaugh that the event would benefit from one final rescheduling to October 16 in Brooklyn. Such a move would violate contracts in place with both boxers and MSG, who BoxingScene.com has learned has also set a hard deadline of end of business day to confirm that current plans remain unaltered.
All have the support of the IBF, who has gone on record to state that “in the event Triller fails to provide the round-trip travel (for Kambosos), the IBF will consider Triller in default and will proceed accordingly.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox