New York – Once upon a time there was the promoter, manager, sanctioning organizations and the matchmaker. Now there are the promoters of television/ streaming networks with plenty of money around the sport of boxing. Case in point there is the change and plenty of money revolving around unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez and his next title defense.
Lopez and his title opportunity against Vasiliy Lomachenko on October 17 was the fight of the year. The upset, that Lopez described as “The Takeover” but little did we know that that fight was the beginning of a thriller to come.
So in steps “Triller”, the music and social media company. They are the newest promotion that has changed the landscape of a sport dominated with Top Rank, PBC, Matchroom, and Golden Boy.
Now they have Teofimo Lopez and his next title defense against George Kambosos after winning a purse bid, but Bob Arum (Top Rank) the promoter of Lopez is still going to the bank with the $6.018 million that Triller won to promote the title defense.
Yes, this is a “Triller” of sorts for the boxing industry. And more so it means promoters can hold a contracted fighter and see the competition put up the money and use their fighter for a main attraction.
And Teofimo Lopez, indeed a major attraction as one of those young and top superstars, is not on the ESPN/Top Rank platform. Yes, Bob Arum loses his fighter for that first title defense. ESPN can’t be happy about not seeing one of their prime fighters on the network for his first title defense and viewed on another platform.
But Lopez is getting more exposure with this reported purse bid deal. He stands to make a huge payday, $3 million or more. Because Arum and Top Rank have the contracted rights to Lopez the champion sees 65 percent of the purse.
So everyone here is a winner. Regardless, at best, Lopez is bound to be on a pay-per-view platform as Triller will stack the card with entertainment and undercard leading to the main event. Remember, this is a promotion in the entertainment business and has Snoop Dogg as a partner. They also staged the successful Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. pay-per-view exhibition that surpassed over a million and a half buys.
But, as I said, the landscape has changed and Teofimo Lopez is a major part of that. Though Top Rank has said they are not concerned about losing Lopez to a new rival promotion. Lopez has a three year promotional contract with Top Rank, but officials there, despite not winning the purse bid, will be watching because they know their champion has tremendous popularity.
The “Triller” part of this is Teofimo Lopez. His win over Lomachenko was the highest rated boxing broadcast last year on the ESPN platform. Bob Arum was not going to surpass his initial bid to promote the first title defense and his champion on another platform will increase his popularity.
There will the expected Lopez win and the next step. That next Thriller for Teofimo Lopez will be unified title defenses and possibilities against Gervonta Davis or Devin Haney, the unofficial WBC champion. Lopez has made no secret that he looks to be the next champion to unify titles at 140.
But I also pose the obstacle about the change in this landscape. Because if Teofimo Lopez can go to the highest bidder, and if promoters take this course, contracts don’t seem to be valid. It means promoters, as much as they are rivals, are also taking a different perspective on things.
It opens the door to a different and unusual perspective about mandatory title defenses, a platform for fighters to play the free agent game. Teofimo Lopez, in his case, and with a valid promotional contract went to the highest bid because the money Bob Arum offered was not sufficient.
And during a global pandemic, with promoters fighting to come up strong with closed door venues and reduced revenue, Lopez was thinking like a champion. He said it was a takeover and this was more of that with a change in the boxing landscape.
In the meantime as reported, a source at Top Rank informed me that there are no hard feelings with Teofimo Lopez. They believe the exposure and added audience in the long run will work for Lopez and to their benefit.
You wonder, does Top Rank with Terence Crawford, one part of welterweight title holders, also change the landscape and see their champion also go to the highest bidder?
What happens after the tentative April title defense for Lopez, well that remains to be seen. This is boxing and business. As I always say, anything is possible just like this purse bid was.
For years, boxing and the fighters always saw purse bids. But this bid was different because Top Rank allowed their champion to test the market without a fight and go to the highest bidder. Boxing has started to see a change and it started when Canelo Alvarez became the richest free agent in the sport with his realigned lucrative DAZN network deal and moving away from Golden Boy and Oscar De La Hoya.
Yes, this was a thriller. And something says there will be more of this and you can look at the Teofimo Lopez takeover as the start. The landscape has certainly changed.
THROWING THE PUNCHES: Why is Canelo Alvarez, and in my opinion the face of boxing? He is dominant and is defending his super middleweight titles Saturday night on DAZN. And this champion is committed to perhaps two or three more fights this year including a quick turnaround and another defense in early May.
And in this modern era of boxing, it is rare to see a champion handling more than two title defenses in the span of a year. It brings boxing back to the glory years when champions defended a title two or three times a year and Canelo Alvarez has that ability and marketing to do so with the DAZN platform and tremendous fan base.
Mexico, of course, is looking. The entire boxing world is anticipating where does Canelo go next and how does he fit in with the all time greats? We will know more Saturday night.
Alvarez (54-1-2 36 KOs) follows his win over Callum Smith in December to claim the WBC and Ring Magazine titles and defends his 168lb belts against WBC mandatory challenger AvniYildirim (21-2 12 KOs) as he goes with an agenda to becoming the first Mexican to be undisputed champion at Super-Middleweight.
“It’s important for me,” said Alvarez this week. He weighed in at 168.
“Very few people have achieved becoming undisputed champions and that’s a short-term goal to win all the titles at 168 pounds. Obviously, no Mexican has ever done it. So that’s our short-term goal, to keep making history. And that’s what we want.”
Alvarez also says this goal is also on the mind of trainer Eddy Reynoso.
“He and I have always wanted the best. And we want to keep making history,” Expect that history to continue…
THIS DAY IN BOXING HISTORY: February 28. 2009: Juan Manuel Marquez stopped Juan Diaz in the ninth round and claimed the vacant WBA and WBO lightweight titles at the Toyota Center in Houston. Marquez opened a cut over Diaz’s right eye and had him in trouble in round 8. He knocked him down twice in round 9 and the bout ended.
Keep It In The Ring and stay safe.
Rich Mancuso: Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso “Sports With Rich YouTube Subscribe, Like, Comment
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