Teofimo Lopez pursues boxing takeover with Triller

1 week ago 14

Teofimo Lopez refers to himself as the “Takeover” because he envisioned himself as a boxing superstar long before he took over the lightweight division as the undisputed champion.

Eight months ago, Lopez expected to defeat Vasiliy Lomachenko, who at the time was regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer, but Lopez was caught off guard when he held the Ring Magazine belt, the title that serves as a reminder that he’s the one who beat the man.

“Had it in my hands and it made me cry,” Lopez said about the lineal belt that’s been around nearly a century. “The Ring Magazine been in the game the longest since 1922 with Jack Dempsey and so many other great champions that have carried that belt.”

At age 23, Lopez is still aiming to take over the sport as the face of boxing, but he said he’s taking baby steps, ones that will require risks.

Lopez took a risk by leaving his promoter, Top Rank, and ESPN – the broadcast partner of Top Rank – to join the recently founded Triller Fight Club for a one-fight partnership. Lopez will make his first undisputed title defense against George Kambosos Jr. on June 19 to headline a Triller pay-per-view broadcast from LoanDepot Park in Miami.

Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) declined Top Rank’s initial offer, which was reportedly $1.25 million, to fight Kambosos (19-0, 10 KOs) on ESPN with millions watching, but Lopez pushed for a purse bid and the gamble paid off with Triller winning the rights to broadcast the fight. Lopez said he expects to make around $8 million for the upcoming bout.

“Triller Fight Club and Triller, they know exactly what they’re doing,” Lopez said. “With the amount of entertainment that I’m actually going to be involved in with these guys and the amount of talent that they have here, it’s phenomenal and I can’t believe it. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Whoa.’”

Perhaps Lopez won’t have the same viewership numbers by not fighting on ESPN, but Triller has made an instant impact on the boxing landscape by distributing a fresh broadcast that appeals to a younger audience. Triller made headlines and provided numerous viral content by hosting the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. and Jake Paul-Ben Askren bouts in the past year.

The Lopez-Kambosos event will be hosted by celebrities Mario Lopez and Snoop Dogg, and Triller recently added Hall of Fame boxing announcer Jim Lampley. The card will also feature performances by hip-hop artist Meek Mill and reggaeton acts Myke Towers, Farruko, Lunay and Gente De Zona.

“I’ll risk it every time for myself,” Lopez said. “I’ll bet on myself and I’ll double down every time. It’s not about the money. It’s about the respect … I’m the undisputed lightweight champion, then treat him like the undisputed lightweight champion.

“But hey, things happen and at least Triller saw it. Now we’re in the ‘TrillerManila’ and we’re just doing our thing, so it’s just that now. I’m giving them the flavor. I’m giving them the sauce. I’m giving them the things they want to see from a fighter standpoint. And the entertainment part is what I’m going to bring. I’m not just a boxer, I’m not a brawler, I’m an entertainer when it’s all said and done.”

POTENTIAL LOPEZ-HANEY BOUT

Lopez said there are no hard feelings between him and Top Rank.

“We’re cordial,” Lopez said about Top Rank. “We’re partners in some way right now at the moment. Ain’t nothing personal. It’s just business.”

Lopez said Top Rank recently tried to negotiate a fight for him with Devin Haney’s representatives. Haney holds a piece of the WBC lightweight title and doesn’t view Lopez as the undisputed champion.

“Let’s make the (explicit) fight happen,” Lopez said about Haney. “You’re saying this and you’re saying that. Earlier this week, you were supposed to meet with my promoter Bob Arum and y’all pulled out, so we can negotiate this fight.”

SHIP HAS SAILED ON LOMACHENKO

Lopez said he’s aiming to knock out Kambosos and is pushing to fight Haney next, but he doesn’t see a rematch with Lomachenko happening.

Lopez said there’s no point in fighting Lomachenko again because he won by a wide margin on the scorecards for a unanimous decision in October.

“That ship has sailed with Vasiliy Lomachenko,” Lopez said. “I beat him fair and square. I scored it 9-3. I don’t know what he’s talking about with a draw and all that. That’s because of his pride and when the ego comes in. He knows he lost.”

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WEEKEND BOXING SCHEDULE

Shakur Stevenson vs. Jeremiah Nakathila

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Las Vegas

TV/streaming: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+

Weight class: Junior lightweight

Title: WBO interim

Lewis Ritson vs. Jeremias Ponce

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Where: United Kingdom

TV/streaming: DAZN

Weight class: Junior welterweight

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