Sources: IBF to rule Lopez bout be staged in U.S.

Boxing

The IBF is expected to rule that Triller must stage the undisputed lightweight championship fight between Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos in the United States rather than Australia, multiple sources told ESPN on Sunday.

The decision is expected to be handed down as soon as Monday, sources said, while also giving Triller extended time to stage the rescheduled pay-per-view bout. The ruling will settle a prolonged legal dispute between Lopez and Triller over the location and timeframe of the bout.

Lopez’s side threatened to relinquish the title rather than travel to the challenger’s home country and adhere to a government-mandated 14-day quarantine.

“We’ve been open to working this out with [Triller] the whole time,” Lopez’s manager, David McWater, told ESPN. “They haven’t shown much interest in it. If that’s the ruling from the IBF, then we’ll abide by it as IBF champion.

“He feels great,” McWater added. “He’s been training.”

Ryan Kavanaugh, Triller’s co-founder, told ESPN he wouldn’t comment until the official ruling from the IBF. Triller won the rights to the 135-pound title fight in February with a bid of more than $6.018 million at an IBF auction. Lopez-Kambosos was set for June 19 in Miami, but days before the fight, the champion tested positive for COVID-19.

Aug. 14 was announced as the rescheduled date before Triller set its sights on Oct. 17 in Sydney, Australia, home of Kambosos. The Lopez side objected to the fight taking place months after Aug. 14 but more so to the 14-day quarantine.

The postponement cost Triller nearly $5 million, sources said, money that included travel expenses and other logistical and marketing costs that can’t be recouped since event insurance isn’t protected against the coronavirus. Hoping to offset some of the loss, Triller thought it could capitalize on the popularity of boxing in Australia.

With the IBF set to rule that fight must take place in the U.S., a new date and site will need to be sorted.

Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) is promoted by Top Rank and fights exclusively on ESPN, but a disagreement with his promoter over money following his October victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko led to the bout with Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) heading to a purse bid.

Triller won the auction, with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport coming in second with $3.506 million and Top Rank third at $2.315 million. Lopez, 24, is set to earn a career-high $3.912 million; he made $1.35 million for the Lomachenko bout. Kambosos, 28, is due to make $2.106 million, also a career-best payday.

Lopez, who resides in Las Vegas, and Top Rank engaged in a public spat in the weeks that followed the purse bid. However, the acrimony ended when the sides signed a restructured contract days before the scheduled bout with Kambosos (ESPN’s No. 9 lightweight) that raised his title-defense minimums from the previous purse of $1.25 million.

Top Rank hoped to stage a PPV rematch between Lopez and Lomachenko later this year, two boxers featured on ESPN’s pound-for-pound top-10 list. With Lopez’s title defense vs. Kambosos now on course to be staged later this year in the U.S., Top Rank has turned its attention to a Dec. 11 fight between Lomachenko and Richard Commey.