Undisputed lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) may be promoted by Top Rank Boxing, but his next fight is expected to be on Triller PPV.
At Thursday’s IBF purse bid, Triller Fight Club comfortably outbid both Matchroom Boxing and Top Rank for rights to promote and broadcast Lopez’s fight against mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr (19-0, 10 KOs). We’ll get to Top Rank’s side of the story in a moment, but the official breakdown is as follows:
Triller - $6,180,000
Matchroom Boxing - $3,506,000
Top Rank - $2,315,000
Per IBF rules, the purse bid is split 65-35 in Lopez’s favor, so that means Teofimo and his team receive a career-best $3,911,700 (which Top Rank will get a 20% cut of because its no longer the lead promoter) while Kambosos and his team get a career-high $2,106,300.
So why is Lopez’s next fight not on any of the ESPN networks? Well it’s safe to say that after his upset win over Vasiliy Lomachenko last October, Lopez solidified himself as a star and he wanted to be paid as such. According to The Athletic, Top Rank offered Lopez his contracted minimum of $1.25 million to fight Kambosos, who may be the #1 ranked IBF fighter but is probably at the bottom end of the top-10 at 135 lbs, and Lopez’s team emphatically refused such an offer. Lopez’s team had already negotiated to bump his pay to $1.5 million for the Lomachenko unification.
Because Kambosos is the mandatory challenger, Top Rank had 90 days to negotiate with Kamboso’ promoter, Lou DiBella, or else the fight would go to purse bids for any boxing promotion to participate. Obviously that means highest bidder wins and the winning bid would be split between the two sides accordingly.
Top Rank is no stranger to purse bids and indeed actually won a purse bid against Matchroom Boxing for Alex Saucedo vs. Maurice Hooker back in 2018. Hooker, who was tied to DAZN/Matchroom at the time, fought on ESPN and was entitled to 75% of the winning purse bid. Golden Boy Promotions also outbid Top Rank back in 2014 for Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Gary Russell Jr, with both men earning career-high purses at the time.
What makes this purse bid different is that there’s a new player in the game, so to speak. Triller Fight Club most recently staged the Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr exhibition, with Jake Paul vs. Nate Robinson as the co-main event. They intend to have more exhibitions and celebrity pro boxing matches, including Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren in April and the Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield exhibition at a date TBD. Kavanaugh told ESPN’s Marc Raimondi that this matchup will likely be paired up with an influencer-celebrity type bout as a double main event. Whatever the case, Triller would have a legitimate title fight and one of the sport’s biggest names in conjunction with the novelty aspect of the show.
We have seen others come into the fight game and then leave just as quickly, so it’ll be interesting to see just how serious Triller is about its long-term investment in boxing as a whole. There’s no doubt that by market standards this is a major overpay, but it benefits the fighters in the short-term and the hope for Triller Fight Club is that the money can be made up through strong PPV sales. Reportedly they exceeded one million buys for Tyson vs. Jones Jr back in November.
As for Lopez’s future with Top Rank, if he doesn’t get the big fights and/or the big paydays he wants after Kambosos, we may see the 23-year-old sensation eventually depart the promotion with whom he’s been with since his professional debut.