Teofimo Lopez feels betrayed by Top Rank over the IBF purse bid
Teofimo Lopez Jr. feels hurt and betrayed. The undisputed lightweight champion of the world and 2020 Ring Magazine and BWAA Fighter of the Year considers Top Rank family.
Lopez was looking to fight his IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos on ESPN under the Top Rank promotional banner in June.
On Thursday, none of it came to fruition when Triller Fight Club won the purse bid with a $6.018 million offer, outbidding Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing’s $3.506 million offer and Top Rank’s $2.315 million. Lopez will receive a career-high $3.9 million purse, and Kambosos will get $2.1 million.
Lopez, the 23-year-old originally from Brooklyn who now lives in Las Vegas, drew almost three million viewers when he beat Vasiliy Lomachenko for the lightweight world title in October on ESPN.
He had hopes the Kambosos fight would follow the same course—on ESPN, promoted by Top Rank.
Instead, Triller, which promoted the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones November exhibition to the tune of 1.9 million buys on pay-per-view, won the bid after Lopez turned down the original Top Rank offer.
“I feel hurt,” Lopez said. “I was in shock when Triller won the bid. I wanted to see what the open market was and I thought Top Rank was going to fight for me. It was shocking Triller won, but it was also good because I’m getting paid more.
“I bet on myself and I won.
“You know I love ESPN and I love Top Rank, for all that they have done for me and my career and my team. David McWater, my manager (and BWAA 2020 Manager of the Year), has been on this purse bid than I had. It was for a good reason.
“Things have been different since the Loma fight, and shockingly for the negative. All I’ve been trying to do is to make the best things possible. It’s a respect thing. Respect for me is big. I’m very big on respect and morals. Top Rank has been this for so many years. I expected different treatment from them.”
Lopez said it was like a slap across the face from a family member.
“It was like the Lomachenko fight all over again, being treated like the B-side of the fight, and that they didn’t think I was going to win,” Lopez said. “You would think, winning on ESPN the way I did, you would expect different treatment. It does hurt.
“I’m only 23 and these people tried to take me out. This is good. It wakes everybody up. You fight what you’re supposed to fight for. I’m the fighter who gets in the ring and risks his life. I haven’t spoken to (Top Rank CEO) Bob Arum or anyone from Top Rank. They have my number. If they think that after this fight, I would come back to them, after offering what they did, I might as well buy my contract out with them.
“It’s reached that level. I thought, what could I do? You start to think that you did something wrong. Top Rank didn’t have to do this. I’m one of their best fighters on their roster. I should have been treated better. I just beat the best fighter in the world, and this is how I get treated?
“It’s crazy. I have no idea what’s going through anyone’s head at Top Rank. I was hoping my fight was going to be on ESPN. Top Rank came in last for the purse bid, which tells me that they really didn’t care for me. I’ve been letting David deal with all of the business side of things.
“Now, David is worried about his clients that he also manages under Top Rank, because now there seems to be this grudge. I’m very grateful for Triller, and valuing me more than I imagined. George is a good fighter and we’re going to put on a good fight.
“Top Rank is family. I am richer because of Triller winning the purse bid. I am looking forward to this fight. I think it’s going to help make my stock rise even more.”
Lopez says a big priority is riding the momentum he created in 2020 with the Lomachenko victory. His goal again is the consecutive Fighter of the Year awards.
“I’m chasing greatness and the money is chasing us,” Lopez said, laughing. “Families fight. They fight all of the time. Maybe we can look at this as a disagreement. I don’t look at this as personal. On the Top Rank side, it seems like they’re taking it more on the personal side.”
Top Rank was contacted to reply to this story and opted not to comment. But Arum spoke to The Ring when the bids went public.
“My message to Top Rank is that I’m hurt by the message I received by the purse bid, and all I’m trying to do is get my worth for the achievements that I have,” Lopez said. “This is nothing personal. It’s business. I know my worth and for as much as fighters need the promoters, the promoters the fighters.
“(Top Rank president) Todd duBoef once said a couple of years ago that the promoters don’t need the fighters. I’m sure he’s thinking about that now. We’ll see.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.