The IBF on Wednesday found Triller in default of its contract obligation to stage the Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos undisputed lightweight championship fight on Oct. 4 and awarded the rights to the bout to Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing.
"We will of course be proceeding with the fight and are very excited to add it to a packed fall schedule on DAZN," Hearn told ESPN. "We are working with DAZN and a number of venues now and will be confirming the date of the fight next week."
The expectation is that Matchroom will look to stage the fight in November on the East Coast. It's a crowded month for boxing with two major pay-per-view bouts, but Nov. 27 is clear of any fights.
In the two-page ruling, obtained by ESPN, IBF president Daryl Peoples references one of the organization's rules that says both fighters must agree in writing to change the date of a bout.
Lopez and Kambosos signed contracts filed with the IBF and the New York State Athletic Commission for a fight to take place Oct. 4 at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Triller subsequently sought to move the event to Oct. 16 at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, saying it didn't want to compete with Monday Night Football. The NFL schedule was released in May.
Triller obtained a signed amendment from Lopez to move the fight to Oct. 16 after advancing the boxer $100,000, but Kambosos declined the same offer and requested $380,000 to sign, along with purses in escrow. Triller balked and has now forfeited its $1.2 million deposit, with 75% headed to Lopez ($900,000). Kambosos will take home $300,000 from the deposit.
Triller has said it will look to recoup the deposit in court.
"At this point we're just happy to be rid of the drama that has surrounded this fight and the IBF," Triller co-founder Ryan Kavanaugh told ESPN.
The organization will still hold a boxing event on Oct. 16, albeit without a major title fight.
"This is meaningless to Triller's business and has no effect on our day to day. We moved on from this fight, as we said last week, and will not be looking back," Kavanaugh said. "We will certainly, however, take the legal steps to get our deposit back and to thoroughly investigate why the IBF continues to allow collusion and other nefarious acts without any action on their part."
Kavanaugh was referring to conversations between Lopez's promoter, Top Rank, and DAZN in February in which Top Rank was attempting to remove a potential bidder from the process.
Hearn did end up bidding and came in second with $3,506,000. Triller won the rights with a shocking bid of $6,018,000. Top Rank came in third at $2,315,000. Peoples said he wasn't aware of any interference in the bid but would meet with the IBF's board to determine whether any action is proper in accordance with its rules. Top Rank declined to comment.
Lopez was set to earn $3,911,700 (65% of Triller's bid) but will now get $3,178,000, counting the $900,000 from Triller's deposit. Kambosos was slated to make $2,106,300 but will now earn $1,527,100, counting the $300,000 from Triller's deposit.
"I try to be a nice guy with Triller and try to make the fight happen, we signed the dotted line," Lopez's father and trainer, Teofimo Lopez Sr., told ESPN. "Kambosos, for some reason, told Triller he didn't want to sign. I don't know what's wrong with that guy.
"It was all bull----. I just want [Triller] to pay for the whole year they took from my son. I have the best lawyer on the planet ... I want to make sure we get our money."
Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) hasn't fought since a career-best performance in October 2020, a decision victory over pound-for-pound great Vasiliy Lomachenko to capture all four belts at 135 pounds. The 24-year-old Brooklyn native is ESPN's No. 1 lightweight and No. 5 pound-for-pound boxer.
The fight with Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) was set for June 5 but moved to June 19 after the Floyd Mayweather-Logan Paul event landed on June 6. Days before the bout, Lopez tested positive for COVID-19 and the fight was postponed. This set off a string of date changes, disputes and legal letters as Triller sought to collect the money it says it lost on the June 19 event that was canceled at the last minute.
After announcing a rescheduled date of Aug. 14, Triller then sought to stage the fight on Oct. 17 in Sydney, Kambosos' hometown. Lopez balked and the IBF ruled that Triller couldn't hold the fight in a place that requires quarantine. The New Jersey-based organization also gave Triller a deadline of Oct. 17 to hold the fight.
Lopez won't fight on Triller at all now, but on DAZN. Following the bout with Kambosos, 28, Lopez will return to ESPN programming. He settled his dispute with Top Rank in June and signed a restructured contract that will see him featured on ESPN+ PPV.
Lopez Sr. said the title defense against Kambosos, ESPN's No. 9 lightweight, will probably be his son's final fight at 135 pounds.
"We've been on this weight for almost eight years already," Lopez Sr. said. "I spoke with [Top Rank chairman] Bob Arum the other day and he's going to get us Josh Taylor in April. Hopefully everything falls into place. We just want to fight the best."
A fight with Taylor, the undisputed 140-pound champion, will certainly qualify as fighting the best and would fit the bill as the sort of big pay-per-view fight Lopez is looking for. Taylor is ESPN's No. 7 pound-for-pound boxer. He returns Dec. 18 against Jack Catterall in a homecoming title defense in Scotland.
Meanwhile, Triller will push forward with its Oct. 16 event at Barclays Center that it moved from Oct. 4 at Hulu Theater. The main event is currently Cletus Seldin vs. William Silva.