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Triller Fight Club: Boxing’s Keystone Kops

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  • Triller Fight Club: Boxing’s Keystone Kops

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    By Arne K. Lang

    Teofimo Lopez scored one of the biggest upsets of 2020 when he comfortably outpointed Vasyl Lomachenko. It earned him three pieces of the world lightweight title and set him up for some mouth-watering fights down the line with the likes of Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, and Ryan Garcia, all of whom, like Teofimo, are currently undefeated. A lucrative rematch with Lomachenko was also on the drawing board. But first things first, and before any of those bouts could materialize Teofimo had an IBF “mandatory” to get out of the way. George Kambosos, an Australian of Greek ancestry, victorious by split decision in each of his last two bouts, was the appointee.

    Enter Triller. The upstart company out-bid the sport’s two leading promoters, Matchroom and Top Rank, to secure the bout.

    What was shocking was not the fact that Triller won the bid, but the extent to which it out-bid other interested parties. Triller offered $6.018M compared with $3.56M by Matchroom and $2.315M by Top Rank.

    A fellow walks into a jewelry store where he is entranced by a gold necklace in the display case. “I see this necklace has a $25,000 price tag,” he says to the proprietor. “Would you be willing to take 40 thousand for it?”

    Triller submitted its winning bid in February. The company then set about determining a date and venue. On April 16, the company announced that the event would be staged in Miami at the city’s major league baseball park on June 5. An exhibition between Evander Holyfield, 58, and Kevin McBride, 48, would serve as a supporting attraction.

    When that date proved unacceptable, the fight was pushed back two weeks with no change in venue. But then on June 14, with the fight only five days away, Lopez tested positive for COVID and the fight had to be pushed back again.

    This was a tough break for Triller, but the circus that followed was all of their own doing.

    August 14 was Triller’s next announced date, although they had yet to lock in a venue. Predictably nothing came of it. In fact, on that date ESPN published a story by Mike Coppinger in which Ryan Kavanaugh, the co-founder and face of Triller, said he planned to take the fight to the Middle East. “We are currently working with the regulatory bodies to bring this fight to Saudi (Arabia) or UAE (United Arab Emirates) in October,” said Kavanaugh. “We think it’s the perfect place for such a landmark fight.”

    Prior to that and beyond, Kavanaugh talked about taking the fight to Sydney, Australia, in mid-October. Teofimo Lopez kiboshed that idea. It would have likely required a 14-day quarantine after he and his team arrived in the country. How is one supposed to prepare for a title fight, any fight, while being confined to his room?

    The next official date was Tuesday, Oct. 5. The venue would be the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. But when Triller was informed that that the New York Yankees might be home that night hosting the Red Sox in a one-game playoff, they moved the fight up 24 hours. (As it turned out, the Yankees will indeed be playing the Red Sox on Tuesday, but the game will be played in Boston.)

    After announcing the switch, it dawned on Triller that Oct. 4 wasn’t a good date either because the fight would be going head-to-head with Monday Night Football. Ergo, they came up with yet another new date, Saturday, Oct. 16 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. But Kambosos balked, tired of the merry-go-around, and that prompted Triller to wash its hands of the fight.

    The lawyers are now involved. Kombosos’ legal counsel sent a letter to the IBF stating that Triller was in default. Triller countered by asking the IBF to strip Kambosos of his ranking and requesting an immediate refund of its purse bid deposit, reportedly $1,203,600, of which Kambosos would be entitled to 35 percent if his default request were granted, a far cry from the $2.1 million he stood to earn if the fight had come to fruition on one of the appointed dates

    According to ESPN’s Kevin Iole, Triller had already invested nearly $10 million in the promotion, money it cannot recoup. But it’s hard to feel sorry for the folks who brought us the Holyfield-Belfort debacle.

    Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

  • #2
    Thanks for the write up, it seems to bring up even more questions then anything to me. Does Triller care about boxing ? Or are they no dif then DAZN was in planting there flag in the USA but never really being real about going all in on boxing here in the USA ? Has Triller made enough money off of all the noise and attention they have got from boxing writers and the like to have made there investment worth it? There are others but here is the one that matters to me as far as boxing goes. Did Lopez make a mistake going for the purse bid the money flexin at Arum for not getting what he wanted for a mandatory fight like this.? Lopez has sat he has talked his way out of favor for a lot of fans, fighters do best when they fight then talk not the other way around. Talk all you want AFTER you do something in the ring not before. . At worst people stop listening or do not believe or care what you say. So now maybe old Arum was right, ? This is a mandotory that no one cares that much about, that is what the man said in dif words but still said it. Said put it on ESPN and move on to bigger fights. Yet it seems it is what boxing is about now, not putting on fights. Even in the days of Tuesday Night Fights or Friday Night Fights you had some consistancy a flow of fights. Empty APPS and over priced and low rate PPVs is that what boxing wants to be ? Or did I miss all those great fights the past five or six months now.? Better check my antenna. ........ ......

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