By Sean Jones: As many expected, the October 3 fight between lightweight champions Teofimo Lopez and Vasiliy Lomachenko looks to be on the brink of collapse due to young star Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) wanting more money than the $1.2 million being offered.
Teofimo reportedly wants $2 million, but it’s not looking like that’s going to happen. For the record, Lomachenko is getting $3.4 million, which is a lot for a fighter that arguably is less popular in the U.S than Teofimo, but oh well.
Vasiliy with no complaints about his $3.4 million
Lomachenko would be getting paid well for this match-up, but the $1.2 million that Lopez would be getting it doesn’t sound terrific.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn chimed in this week on the Lomachenko vs. Lopez negotiations by saying that he doesn’t see it as a pay-per-view worthy fight in the U.S, and he also feels that the $1.2 million offer to Teofimo is a poor one.
If you’re Lomachenko, you’re happy with your money, but it’s a much different story for Teofimo, who would be making $2 million LESS to take the unification match.
According to ESPN writer Steve Kim, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is still optimistic that he can salvage the Lomachenko-Lopez fight for October 3. But if not, then he’s going to move on and schedule the 32-year-old Loma (14-1, 10 KOs) against another opponent for the fall.
Arum doesn’t want to lose money on the Lomachenko-Teofimo fight, as it’s not a pay-per-view worthy fight. Putting the match on ESPN PPV will likely result in very few buys.
Lomachenko isn’t a star in American. He’s a great fighter, but that greatness hasn’t translated over to stardom, and he’s certainly not a pay-per-view attraction.
Teofimo is a newcomer who only begun to pick up a following with the U.S fans starting in 2019. The hardcore boxing fans know and like Teofimo in the U.S, but the casual fans have no idea who he is, and they’re not going to want to order a fight between him and the non-star Lomachenko.
Not a great time for pay-per-view
It’s too early for Top Rank to be staging a fight between Teofimo and Loma, and it’s an especially wrong time to be selling a pay-per-view with so many people unemployed in the United States because of the pandemic.
The money that Lopez, 23, isn’t there, given that the lack of crowds for boxing events. Lomachenko and Lopez were expected to fight behind closed doors on October 3, a move that would have resulted in a lot less money for the fighters.
It’s not the end of the world if the Teofimo vs. Lomachenko fight doesn’t happen in 2020. Although Teofimo had talked recently of moving up to 140 after the Loma fight, he plans on fighting at 135 for his next contest. After that, he’ll look to restart the negotiations for the Lomachenko fight after that in 2021.
“We explained to them we have no gate, no closed-circuit,” said Arum to ESPN. “I mean, we’re willing to pay him a big price, but again, I’m not going to lose millions of dollars on an event because he thinks he’s worth more.”
Teofimo’s manager David McWater sees it as a situation where ESPN could quickly fix this if they want the Lopez-Lomachenko fight on their network on October 3.
You also can’t blame Arum for not wanting to lose his millions for a fight that might lose money on ESPN PPV. It’s too soon to be matching Lopez against Lomachenko, and the timing in staging it in the middle of the pandemic worsens the existing problems.
ESPN can fix the problem
If Lopez only wants $2 million, then ESPN would only need to bump up his pay $800,000 from the $1.2 million that he’s been offered for the Lomachenko fight. That’s not a huge amount, but if the network has doubts about the amount of interest that the fight would generate, then you can see why they wouldn’t want to give Lopez a bump up in pay.
It’s no big deal for Lopez to wait a little bit longer for the fight against the two-time Olympic gold medalist Lomachenko. If they wait until 2021 or 2022, Lomachenko will be 33 or 34, and he would be dealing with a prime 24 or 25-year-old Teofimo, and it might be not good for him.
It helps Teofimo to wait until he’s offered the right amount of money, but he needs to consider washing his hands of the whole affair. Teofimo would likely make more money fighting one of the popular lightweights like Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, or Devin Haney than he would go against Lomachenko.
It’s better for Lopez to fight Haney, Ryan, or Tank than it would be for him to battle Lomachenko, and not receive the money that he wants. If Top Rank wants Lomachenko to increase his popularity, then they need t match some of the other fighters at lightweight.
“If we don’t make a deal with him, we’ll move off,” said Arum. “But I’m optimistic still that we’ll come to terms.”
Is Arum hoping Teofimo will back off?
If Arum is thinking that Teofimo will suddenly get the fear of loss with him saying that he’ll “move off” the negotiations, he could be mistaken. Teofimo has options for big fights, and he doesn’t take a match against the highly skilled Lomachenko for lesser amounts.
If Teofimo was considered a huge favorite to beat Lomachenko, then he might be agreeable to come in under his asking price. But even then, $1.2 million isn’t a lot of money given the talent of Teofimo’s opponent.
If the money isn’t there, then Lomachenko can always volunteer a portion of his purse to get Teofimo the $2 million that he reportedly wants to take the fight. As long as Lomachenko looks at it as an investment meant for his future, he won’t feel bad about giving up a portion of his purse to get Teofimo.
Lomachenko needs this fight against Lopez than he does because he’s 32 and not getting any younger. Indeed, Loma is running out of time to try and become a star before he ages out and is ready to hang up his gloves.
With the matchmaking that Top rank has been doing for Lomachenko, there are no guarantees that they’ll e able to match him up against fighters like Ryan Garcia, Tank Davis, and Devin Haney.
Lopez as a lot of time to slowly build his fan base, and he doesn’t need to agree to little money to play the B-side for a match against Lomachenko.