Teofimo Lopez Jr. and his legal team will not budge on its stance for the lightweight champion’s next fight to happen sooner rather than later.
Patrick English, lead counsel for Lopez and manager David McWater submitted an updated filing with the International Boxing Federation (IBF), who continues to review all of the facts regarding the postponed title defense versus mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. The filing includes an updated complaint along with supporting evidence, as well as Certification letters from both Lopez and McWater—copies of which have been obtained by BoxingScene.com.
In each, the team collectively voices their displeasure over Triller Fight Club (identified as Proxima Event Productions, LLC) attempting to reschedule the aforementioned title fight beyond the scope of the original purse bid terms. The planned bout was moved from May 29 to June 5, then to June 19 before Lopez tested positive for Covid in forcing a postponement.
Lopez tested positive in June but produced a negative test near the end of the month. The reigning lineal/IBF/WBA/WBO champion professed a willingness to return on the first available fight date—which at the time was August 14, as announced by Trilller.
From there, came the suggestion of the fight landing on an already scheduled Pay-Per-View event on September 11 before Triller revealed that the fight was now heading to Australia in mid-October. The latter date is of concern to Lopez’s side for a number of reasons, including current COVID protocol with significant portions of Australia under lockdown, along with what Lopez’s legal team refers to as continued bait-and-switch tactics.
“At his point we draw a distinction as to what Mr. Lopez must do as opposed to what he is willing to do,” English notes in a 32-page document filed with the IBF. “We do not need to argue over whether Mr. Lopez must agree to and extension, because he is willing to do so. He is willing to reset the clock, so to speak, beginning on the date he was cleared to fight.
“That would have given Triller/ Proxima 15 days to submit a contract which would be in accord with the standard IBF contract for a bout to be held within 90 days. Triller/ Proxima first proposed August 14 at Madison Square Garden. That would have been acceptable. Then it proposed September 11. That too would have been acceptable. Both dates fall within 90 days of the reset date of June 29. Yet no contract was proffered for either date.”
The September 11 date was to have Lopez’s bout with Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) paired up with an exhibition bout between Oscar De La Hoya and former UFC champion Vitor Belfort. The event was originally billed to take place in Las Vegas but will now air live on Pay-Per-View from Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Lopez-Kambosos was—as argued by Lopez through his attorney—used as part of the early promotion for De La Hoya-Belfort. Yet in lieu of a contract confirm the rescheduled date, Triller instead pushed the fight back further and out of the United States entirely. The location and its renewed Covid crisis is less concerning from a legal standpoint than honoring the parameters of the original purse bid won by Triller Fight Club on February 25.
“Putting aside completely for the moment the Covid crisis which is occurring in Australia, a purse bid is not an open ended option, though Triller/Proxima would have it so,” argues English. “They could have promoted the bout on August 14, a date within the 90 days and which was acceptable to Mr. Lopez. T
hey could have promoted it on September 11, a second date it proposed. The sold pay per view for that date. Yet again no contract came. Thus we have May 29, June 5, August 14, and September 11, a series of "bait and switch" moves which would do the most unscrupulous of promoters proud.”
Representatives from Triller have did not immediately respond to an inquiry as this goes to publish, though any response from the company will be reported accordingly. The IBF staff collectively declined comment, as the matter remains under review.
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.
Upon the canceled June date, the hope from Lopez was that the fight would be rescheduled for August 14, or September 11 at the latest. There is legal ground for Lopez to demand a contract for either of those dates, though it is also worth noting that a restructured contract with Top Rank was due to begin with a December 11 rematch with Vasiliy Lomachenko (15-2, 11KOs), whom he outpointed last October in Las Vegas to become unified champion.
An October date would all but kill such plans, with even September pushing it. August 14 is a crowded date for boxing, with stateside shows already airing on ESPN, DAZN and Showtime.
Regardless, Lopez’s side still awaits a contract of any kind confirming his next fight. The last contract received and signed—which was submitted as evidence in the complaint—was for the fight to take place June 5.
“I understand that Triller/Proxima has raised what is a complete red herring regarding my medical condition,” Lopez noted in a Certification letter. “I am fine and would be ready to engage in a bout with Kambosos on either August 14 (a date first announced by Triller) or September 11, a date for which Triller has been selling pay per view[s].
“The continued delays by Triller/Proxima are injuring my career… given that Kambosos is my mandatory I must engage in it prior to future bouts. Had Triller/Proxima promoted the bout on May 29, June 5, August 14 or September 11 I could have accepted a bout for December. l can still do so if Triller/Proxima is defaulted and one of the other bidders steps promptly to the plate to promote my bout.”
The call for a defaulted purse bid would leave Triller to still pay 10% of its winning purse amount, to be split 75/25 in favor of the defending champion. From there, the IBF would rule whether to award to the next highest bidder—which was Matchroom Boxing, followed by Top Rank—or vacate the purse bid altogether and call for a new round of negotiations.
Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn has yet to commit to or even comment on any lingering interest in securing the rights to the fight. Top Rank’s Bob Arum previously informed BoxingScene.com’s Keith Idec of a plan in place should his company inherit the fight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox