The attorney for lightweight contender George Kambosos on Tuesday wrote to the IBF requesting that it declare Triller Fight Club in default of its winning purse bid to stage a mandatory defense between unified world champion Teofimo Lopez and Kambosos.
The fight had been scheduled for various dates but has been postponed, including because Lopez came down with Covid-19 a week before it was supposed to take place on June 19 in Miami.
It was eventually rescheduled for October 5 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York as the main event of a Triller Fight Club pay-per-view, and then both camps agreed to allow Triller to move it again to October 4 to avoid a possible New York Yankees home playoff game.
However, then Triller boss Ryan Kavanaugh said he wanted to move the fight again, this time to October 16 at Madison Square Garden rival arena Barclays Center in Brooklyn, to avoid having it go against a “Monday Night Football” game, and also to pair it with a Vezuz rap battle.
Lopez, without the input from his attorney or manager, signed an agreement that allowed Triller to move the fight. However, Triller still had to get Kambosos to sign off on the deal.
Triller also had to reach a settlement of its contract with Madison Square Garden and finalize a deal with Barclays Center.
On Monday, the settlement with Madison Square Garden was reached, and the arena’s website, where tickets had been available, listed the event as canceled. According to sources, Madison Garden was allowed to keep the $150,000 rent that had already been paid for the event, and it also received a six-figure payout for its trouble.
Kambosos, however, still had not agreed to the move, and he has a signed contract to challenge Lopez on October 4 at the Garden.
On Tuesday, negotiations between Triller and Kambosos attorney Greg Smith reached an impasse, and Smith wrote to IBF president Daryl Peoples and IBF attorney Linda Torres asking for Triller’s winning bid to be defaulted.
Ultimately, it came down to Triller’s unwillingness to place Kambosos’ purse in an escrow account before flying from Australia to the United States for the fight.
Triller doesn’t promote either boxer but owns the rights to the bout because it shocked everyone when it won the fight at a purse by blowing away the rest of the bidders with an offer of $6.018 million, a number so enormous that it beat the two other bids combined — an offer of $3.506 million from Matchroom Boxing, which was bidding in conjunction with streaming service DAZN and Kambosos promoter Lou DiBella, and $2.315 million offered by Lopez promoter Top Rank.
Lopez is entitled to 65 percent of the money ($3,911,700), although he must pay Top Rank 20 percent ($782,340). Kambosos is entitled to 35 percent ($2,106,300) minus a roughly a double-digit cut to DiBella. Both fighters were looking at career-high purses.
If the IBF declares Triller in default, it would forfeit the 20 percent it deposited with the IBF after the purse bid ($1,203,600). That money would be split between Lopez and Kambosos on a 65-35 split, and Matchroom Boxing, as the under bidder, would have the option to promote the fight for its winning bid.
Smith made his case for the default in the letter to the IBF, a copy of which was obtained by World Boxing News.
“I write to clarify (Triller COO Thorsten) Meier’s correspondence from (Monday) and any rumors regarding an ‘agreement’ to move the lightweight title fight between Mr. Lopez and Mr. Kambosos to October 16, 2021, at the Barclays Center,” Smith wrote in his letter.
“Simply put, there is not, and has never been such an agreement. Mr. Kambosos does not agree to modify the Official Championship Bout Contract for Use After Purse Bid executed on September 5 and thereafter submitted to the IBF and the New York Athletic Commission.”
Smith asserted that the contract Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) signed obligates Triller to stage the bout on October 4 at Madison Square.
“For reasons explained below, Triller cannot perform the Contract and is in breach,” Smith wrote. “Mr. Kambosos respectfully requests that the IBF default Triller under Rule 10.F.2.
“As you are undoubtedly aware, on September 20 — without discussion with, or notice to, Mr. Kambosos — Triller head Ryan Kavanaugh appeared on (Ariel Helwani’s) The MMA Hour and announced ‘breaking news’ that Triller was ‘trying” to move the bout to the Barclays Center on October 16, 2021.
“Mr. Kavanaugh explained that Triller had ‘just realized’ the Raiders were appearing on Monday Night Football at the same time as the bout and that he didn’t want the bout to compete for attention with a popular football team.
“Given that the NFL released its Monday Night Football schedule in May 2021, Mr. Kavanaugh’s comments were either a lie or an admission of incompetence on the part of Triller to understand sports scheduling.
“In the days that followed, Mr. Kavanaugh attempted to secure the approval of Mr. Lopez and Mr. Kambosos to reschedule the bout in conformance with his announcement. Mr. Kambosos is informed and believes that Mr. Lopez signed an amendment to his bout agreement on September 22, 2021 — after Triller misrepresented to him that Mr. Kambosos had signed a similar document. Notably, Triller did not countersign the Lopez amendment, which was provided to the IBF by Mr. Meier (on Monday).
“Following Mr. Lopez’s agreement to reschedule the bout, Triller provided a draft amendment to Mr. Kambosos that differed from the Lopez amendment in that it did not specify a location and venue for the rescheduled bout, but instead only that ‘the bout may take place on October 16, 2021, at a location in New York, New Jersey, California or Florida.’ The amendment also contained errors relating to dates and contained a misspelling of Mr. Kambosos’ name.”
Smith went on to write that in addition to “grammatical and substantive failings of the amendment,” their camp attempted to obtain written confirmation from Triller that if he agreed to reschedule the bout that Triller would show proof of funds by placing his purse money in an escrow account before he flew from his home in Australia to the United States for the fight.
Kambosos also wanted Triller to “honor prior marketing agreements that Triller had offered, but then reneged on.”
“Mr. Kavanaugh repeatedly stated that the error-filled amendment was a take it or leave it proposition and that Triller would not be extending Mr. Kambosos any further consideration,” Smith wrote.
“Despite the passing of his grandfather and the birth of his child last week, Mr. Kambosos remains ready, willing, and able to box on October 4, 2021; he has never expressed to Triller or the IBF that he was unavailable or unable to perform everything required by the contract.
“However, Mr. Kambosos recently learned that on or about September 24, 2021, Triller and MSG reached a settlement in which Triller released its hold on the venue for October 4, thus making it impossible for Triller to perform under the contract.
“Moreover, Mr. Kambosos understands that at present, Triller and the Barclays Center do not have an agreement for the proposed October 16 event.
“Triller has breached the Contract, lied to the IBF about Mr. Kambosos’ agreement to move the Bout, and attempted to coerce Mr. Kambosos into executing an amendment that does not comply with IBF Rule 10.F.1 in that it does not specify a venue.
“In light of the foregoing, Mr. Kambosos has no choice but to ask the IBF to declare that Triller has failed to comply with the contract and with the IBF Rules Governing Championship Contests. Triller should be declared in default under Rule 10.F.2 and should be barred from future purse bids for its egregious behavior.”
According to a source with knowledge of the deal, Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) signed the deal with Triller allowing the fight to be moved without requiring his purse money to be placed into escrow.