Triller owner Ryan Kavanaugh made his boxing presence known in a big way Thursday when he won the IBF’s purse bid for the fight featuring Teofimo Lopez Jr. and George Kambosos Jr.
The longtime Hollywood producer-turned-boxing promoter paid a premium amount of $6,018,000 to stage the show, more than doubling the combined sum submitted by Matchroom Boxing head Eddie Hearn ($3,506,000) and Top Rank boss and Lopez promoter Arum ($2,315,000).
Kavanaugh told BoxingScene.com in an interview minutes after the purse bid finished Thursday that he’s planning to present the fight in May on Triller pay-per-view, and the show will be priced depending on what the main event is paired with.
“This fight was a really important one for us to have. Having the undisputed lightweight champion on Triller was something we were really hoping to get. It was my first purse bid, so I wasn’t sure [if we were going to get it]. We are very excited. It’s the next step for us in trying to pair all quadrants of our entertainment together with true boxing,” said Kavanaugh.
“We’re hopefully showing people that we’re here as a friend to the boxing world to bring them the fights they want to see. We’re here not to attack it, but to bring entertainment to what has traditionally been a purist sport. Our view is that we want to make it look and feel different. We also want to make sure we have the legitimacy of real fights and building a real Fight Club and not just something that is built around social media. The importance of this for us was that we’re still going to deliver a different experience that has something for everyone.”
Triller’s maiden voyage in the sport started in November with the Mike Tyson versus Roy Jones Jr. exhibition match. Days after the event, Kavanaugh and longtime business partner Snoop Dogg launched a combat sports series billed as Fight Club.
Triller announced in January that Jake Paul would be fighting MMA star Ben Askren on April 17 in a boxing match, and that more shows were on the horizon.
They’re now delivering their first big and true professional boxing match, even if they’re borrowing the WBA, WBO, IBF and WBC lightweight franchise Lopez from Top Rank and ESPN for only one fight.
“We are in no way competing with Bob Arum,” said Kavanaugh. “Eddie Hearn is Arum’s true competition. We’re just doing it to build a brand. We don’t compete with Arum or ESPN, because we are a different model … We hope they see us as a way to create more marketing for their fighters. Teofimo will come in with a certain amount of followers and leave with hopefully three-to-four times that amount. That’ll be good for Bob too. We think we’re great for everyone in the sport.”
Arum was also complimentary of Kavanaugh in an interview with BoxingScene.com on Thursday, and he doesn’t deem boxing's newest player as a rival.
“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,” said Arum.
“Kavanaugh is absolutely great for boxing. 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.
“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.”
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