Australia

Why this Aussie has been left waiting 10 months for a world title shot

When video social networking site Triller won a purse bid to host Teófimó Lopez’s unified lightweight clash against Australian George Kambosos Junior in February, it was hailed as a win for both boxers.

What has followed though, has been anything but.

With promises of a career-high payday for both men, the bout between two undefeated stars has been subject to multiple delays.

Boxing governing body the IBF have finally put their foot down, declaring that Triller had defaulted on the terms of their purse bid.

That means the contest will now be promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sports, the next highest bidder.

So what went wrong?

Some background

Teófimó López became unified champion in the lightweight division and a recognised pound-for-pound force.

López (16-0) became one of the hottest properties in boxing when he outclassed unified WBA and WBO lightweight champion and pound-for-pound star Vasyl Lomachenko in October 2020.

López won by unanimous decision in a boilover display, catapulting him into the wider boxing world’s consciousness as holder of the WBA (super), IBF and WBO world championship belts.

Meanwhile, George Kambosos Jr (19-0) scored his own upset victory over former IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby by split decision in London, making him mandatory challenger for López’s IBF belt.

George Kambosos screams with blood on his face
George Kambosos Jr has a 19-0 unbeaten record as a professional.(

Getty Images: Hannah Peters

)

López was obligated to meet Kambosos as mandatory challenger or else have his IBF title stripped.

López accepted the Kambosos fight, but then fell out with his promoters, Top Rank, over the amount they were willing to pay for him to fight.

As a result, he took the fight to market, with other promotion companies bidding to put the fight on, a bid that was won by Triller for an astronomical sum of just over $US6 million ($8.2 million) — blowing Top Rank’s bid of just over $US2 million and Matchroom’s $US3 million, out of the water.

What is Triller?

Roy Jones Jr and Mike Tyson wear green boxing belts
Roy Jones Jr (left) and Mike Tyson “fought” to a draw in their exhibition contest, which Triller promoted.(

Getty Images: Joe Scarnici for Triller

)

Triller is a new player on the fight scene — and does not come from a boxing background.

Led by businessman Ryan Kavanaugh, Triller is a music video app where people can pick a song and then video themselves singing or rapping along to it.

Looking to diversify, Triller not so much dipped its toes into boxing promotion than plunged headfirst into the deep end by staging Mike Tyson’s boxing exhibition against Roy Jones Junior in November.

It was far from a traditional boxing show, with an undercard featuring Jake Paul against Nate Robinson, a number of live music performances and had Snoop Dogg as a colour commentator.

Snoop Dogg smiles wearing a commentary headset
Snoop Dogg displayed his versatility by commentating the Mike Tyons-Roy Jones Jr exhibition.(

Getty Images: Joe Scarnici for Triller

)

It received positive reviews, around 30 million pay-per-view buys, and led to Triller forming the Triller Fight Club to do more in the future.

López vs Kambosos was set to be its first world title fight and was set to take place as a co-main event to an exhibition between Kevin McBride vs Evander Holyfield in Miami on June 5.

What went wrong?

The fight was originally set for June 5 at the Miami Marlins Stadium, but was delayed to allow for a full attendance as coronavirus restrictions eased in Florida.

However, at the 11th hour, López withdrew after contracting COVID-19.

The entire card was moved to August 14 but, due to a clash with a Major League Baseball match, a new venue was needed, which placed the fight in limbo.

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Triller was desperate to find a venue and even briefly thought about staging the fight in Australia, but the IBF halted those plans after López complained about Australia’s quarantine requirements.

It was then set for Madison Square Garden on Sunday, October 4, which was almost immediately moved to Monday, October 5 due to the prospect of a clash with a Yankees-Red Sox playoff game.

The problem was that it then clashed with NFL’s Monday Night Football, a traditionally high ratings winner.

Triller subsequently tried to move the fight again, to October 16, at which point the Kambosos finally said enough was enough and asked the IBF to find Triller in default, which it did, costing Triller an estimated $US10 million in lost expenses.

Hearn’s Matchroom Sports will now promote the fight on the DAZN platform.

So, when is the fight?

Incredibly, we still don’t know.

Hearn tweeted that the date and venue will be announced “shortly”.

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Both camps are frustrated, with Teófimó López Senior, Lopez’s father and trainer, saying Triller needed “to pay for the whole year they took from my son”.

Kambosos, for his part, has tweeted a video of him working out, saying he is ready to go.

“I’ve been patient but I’ve been prepared,” he wrote.

“It’s my time.”


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