The show will go on for Triller Fight Club, though without its originally planned main event.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that plans remain place to present a boxing card on October 16, a date the upstart promotional company targeted to feature of the oft-postponed lightweight championship between Teofimo Lopez Jr. and George Kambosos Jr. While the title fight remains in limbo—and the centerpiece for numerous legal complaints—the supporting cast will push forward for the show that will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The previously announced undercard includes a junior welterweight bout between Daniel Gonzalez (20-2-1, 7KOs) of the Woodhaven section of Queens, New York and Brooklyn-based Russian prospect Petros Ananyan (15-2-2, 7KOs). Triller Fight Club COO Thorsten Meier confirmed the addition of junior welterweight Cletus Seldin, a popular attraction originally from Eastern Long Island who is now based out of Brooklyn. The 35-year-old Seldin (25-1, 21KOs) will face Brazil’s William Silva (28-3, 16KOs) in what will likely serve as the evening’s chief support.
The exact order of fights is not yet set, though expected to be formally announced in the next couple of days. One absolute is the exclusion of its centerpiece attraction, as Triller has given up on proceeding with Lopez-Kambosos.
The company is not entirely out of the Lopez business, however. In an eight-page complaint filed with the IBF—a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com—Triller has called for Australia’s Kambosos (19-0, 10KOs) to be removed from the sanctioning body’s mandatory position, which would permit Lopez to face the next available challenger. Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz (22-1-1, 15KOs) is currently the next highest ranked challenger, followed by Argentina’s Gustavo Lemos, former featherweight titlist Lee Selby (whom Kambosos beat last Halloween to become the mandatory challenger) and previous Lopez foes Richard Commey and Vasiliy Lomachenko.
In addition to requesting the removal of Kambosos, Triller has also called for the IBF to release the 20% deposit—more than $1,200,000—that Triller was required to place in escrow in securing the rights to the fight. Triller won a February 25 purse bid by submitting an offer of $6,018,000, far outpacing Matchroom Boxing ($3,506,000) and Top Rank ($2,315,000)—Lopez’s career-long promoter. Lopez was due 65% of the winning bid, translating to a career-high $3,911,700, far more than his combined paydays in title wins over Commey and Lomachenko. Kambosos’ remaining 35% cut was $2,106,300, reportedly at least ten times more than he has made for any fight to date.
Original plans called for Lopez=Kamboso to land the title fight which it planned to present June 5 on Pay-Per-View. That date was moved to June 19 at loan Depot Park—home to Major League Baseball’s Miami Marlins—only for the event to get canceled after Brooklyn’s Lopez (16-0, 12KOs) tested positive for Covid, a development which was learned and formally revealed at the start of fight week. Triller lost millions in the promotional and production costs as a result, in addition to nearly two dozen fighters scheduled to appear on the undercard suddenly left without a fight.
Efforts to reschedule the event resulted in a summer-long legal battle between Lopez and Triller. Lopez insisted on the fight taking place August 14, the first date released by Triller in its effort to immediately reschedule the event. At the time of Lopez’s official complaint with the IBF, Triller was looking to stage the event in mid-October in Kambosos’ home country of Australia. Lopez objected both to the date and having to travel to a country where he would be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, thus leaving him without sufficient means to conclude training camp for his second IBF title defense and first as the lineal and unified champion.
The final ruling from the IBF went down the middle, granting a deadline of October 17 for the fight to take place but only in a country that didn’t require either party to quarantine. Triller then sought to stage the event at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City on October 5 before officially landing on October 4—a Monday evening—with tickets having gone on sale in mid-September.
In a scheduling conflict to which Meier accepts blame, it was decided to move the event—including yet-to-be-announced musical acts—off a night where it wouldn’t have to compete with Monday Night Football. With the tight deadline in place, a new date of October 16 was chosen. However, it meant moving from MSG property since plans to move it to the main room were a non-starter since the venue was booked that evening.
It led to relocating to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, though with Triller CEO Ryan Kavanaugh prematurely declaring the move as a done deal. Kavanaugh revealed to The MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani that plans were already in motion, though at a time when neither Lopez nor Kambosos were on board with the move.
Lopez’s father and head trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr. negotiated a deal on behalf of his son, though at the time in a move that wasn’t necessarily in agreement with the rest of the team.
Nevertheless, the only remaining signature required was that of Kambosos.
That moment never came, with Kambosos—through attorney Greg Smith, one of the top litigators in the country and who also represents pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez—filing a breach of contract complaint with the IBF on Tuesday, demanding that the fight either take place October 4 or for the sanctioning body to declare that Triller defaulted on the purse bid. Such a ruling would result in the escrow deposit being split 65/35 in Lopez’s favor, as was the case with the original purse bid had their fight taken place.
It would also result in Triller being barred from participation in IBF purse bids for a period of six months.
Triller has since responded with a complaint of its own, alleging that it had complied with the IBF’s demand to secure travel for Kambosos—originally attempting fly in the boxer and his team from Australia on September 24 only to honor the boxer’s request to change the date to September 29.
Meier informed BoxingScene.com that Kambosos and his team did not make it to the airport on the date, as Triller was informed by United Airlines that the company was left with $37,000 worth of no-shows in purchased tickets. It was enough to prompt the company to ultimately wash its hands with the fight, on which it estimates losses north of $8,000,000. As much was communicated to the IBF on September 30, where Triller called for a new fight to be ordered and Kambosos to be removed from the rankings.
Efforts by BoxingScene.com to reach IBF representatives seeking comment went unreturned as this goes to publish, though the sanctioning body has called on Friday for both boxers to respond to the matter before making a final ruling.
Meanwhile, Triller will move forward with its latest revealed plans to stage a weekend of boxing and music at Barclays.
The October 16 show will serve as a makeshift TrillerVerz event, with boxing followed by musical acts. A second music-only show is also in store for October 17, with Verzuz already advertising the date. The artists have yet to be revealed for that night, though Verzuz’ social media account offered a poster with silhouettes suggesting a legendary hip hop battle between Brooklyn’s own Big Daddy Kane and The Bronx’s KRS-One.
“This is why Triller Fight Club got into the boxing business,” notes Meier. “We are not a promoter. We don’t have a stable of fighters and are not here to compete with actual boxing promoters. We want to provide entertainment for boxing fans, a night of boxing with musical acts to help attract a new audience the sport in ways that the sport has not been able to reach these fans.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox