Coming off his momentous victory last October over Vasiliy Lomachenko to become the undisputed lightweight champion, Teofimo Lopez, and his team became embroiled in a dispute with their promoter over just what he would be paid for his next defense against his IBF mandatory challenger, George Kambosos.
Subsequently, after failing to come to a resolution with Top Rank (which had promoted Lopez since the inception of his pro career in 2016), a purse bid was held in late February to decide who would promote this match-up which was largely thought off as a lopsided affair.
In a stunning turn of events, nascent streaming service, Triller, won the rights to this bout with a bid of just over $6 million, far out-pacing the offers of Matchroom ($3.5 million) and Top Rank ($2.3 million). With that, Lopez would be entitled to a 65-35 split in his favor(which meant around $4 million on his end).
Lopez had scored. They had beaten the system, and taught Top Rank a lesson about their value on the open market.
His team, lead by manager, David McWater, were not shy in patting themselves on the back, and proclaiming that they had ''re-set the market'' for the 23 year old, who is one of the sports brightest young stars.
This event was originally scheduled for June 5th in Miami, till they were bullied off that weekend as Floyd Mayweather came into town and put his bout with Logan Paul on that same weekend. Triller then made the decision to stage this card on June 19, in what would serve as a bit of a homecoming fight for the defending champion who spent much of his youth in South Florida.
But as Lopez tested positive for Covid several days before the bout, the whole event was scrapped. And this is when things went sideways between Lopez and Triller. Ryan Kavanaugh of Triller has stated recently that they now intend to put this fight on in mid-October in Australia (where Kambosos hails from).
In response, McWater has made it clear that his fighter isn't going 'Down Under'.
The question has to be asked: what did they think they were getting into?
The reality is that when you go into a purse bid situation, the upside is that you may attract an exorbitant offer. (And yeah, to most observers what Triller put up seems to be more outlandish than Dr. Dre's alimony payments.) The flip side is that the event could then be controlled by a secondary promoter.
Everything has a price --- including large paydays.
If they wanted assurances that this upcoming fight would be held in the States, Top Rank would have accommodated that request.
Back in 2013, the bout between then-heavyweight champion, Wladmir Klitschko, and Alexander Povetkin fetched an eye opening $23 million from Russian promoter, Vladimir Hryunov. For this largesse, Klitschko was forced to face the challenger in his homeland in Moscow.
One promoter, who has no pony in this race, explained, "The thing with purse bids is you really have to understand all of the ramifications because it does often blow up in people's faces. It does put the promoter who wins the purse bid in a very strong position."
So while there is great opportunity, there is also vulnerability in handing over a fight to a secondary promoter who has no long term interest in a boxer.
The reason why Triller wants to go to Australia isn't really to provide Kambosos with any home court advantage. The consensus is that Lopez would soundly defeat him on any of the seven continents. But Triller, who has already sunk several millions on this venture, believes that this particular promotion would do much better in this jurisdiction than any other.
The fact is that the fight at LoanDepot Park in Miami was selling about as well as the usual Miami Marlins game in the dog days of summer.
Along with balking at the mandatory two-week quarantine that would involve going to Australia for a fight, McWater is lamenting that with this new proposed date, Lopez would only fight once in 2021, as the boxer and his wife are expecting their first child in December.
Well, the counter to that is they willingly went into a conflict with their promoter and put themselves in this position. After a momentous victory in 2020, it looks like for the second consecutive year Lopez will fight just one time. A valuable period of time to raise the star power of Lopez has been squandered.
What may have played a part in their change of attitude towards Triller -- and this promotion, overall -- is that the week before the scheduled bout in Miami, it was announced that Lopez and Top Rank had agreed on a new amended promotional pact. Part of this deal includes a lucrative rematch with Lomachenko in the fall.
So right then and there, while they reconciled their marriage, Triller became that dispensable side piece. But they still have designs on having that one-night stand in Sydney.
Lopez isn't necessarily boxed in. He could make the decision to vacate the IBF belt, and Kambosos would then be left to face the highest available contender for that title. Or the sanctioning body could rule that Triller must put this fight on sooner, and in the States.
Regardless, this bout is a financial windfall for Lopez, who will earn a career-high payday in a fight where he is heavily favored. Then he would move on with the rest of his career with Top Rank.
But for this assignment, the decision was made for him to be a mercenary. But Lopez may not get to choose the battlefield.
His side made it clear months ago that this move was just business, not personal.
Well, the same applies for the entity that won this purse bid.
This week on 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez and yours truly, we look at the current situation involving Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and Caleb Plant, and everything else going on in the sport of boxing
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