Teofimo Lopez talks about future with Top Rank: There’s no going back

By Boxing News - 03/28/2021 - Comments

By Dan Ambrose: Teofimo Lopez says there’s too much damage that has been done between him and Top Rank to go back now. His promoters didn’t offer him the kind of money he felt his title defense against Australian George Kambosos Jr was worth.

If Teofimo leaves Top Rank, he’ll need to bring in the numbers for his next promoters, as they’re not going to overpay if he’s only interested in defending his four titles against the many no-name contenders.

The undisputed lightweight champion Teofimo (16-0, 12 KOs) is still with Top Rank, though, but he seems to believe he’ll be a free agent soon.

If Teofimo is wrong with his belief that he’ll be a free agent soon, he’s got a long time to stay with them.

Assuming Teofimo’s purse demands for simple title defenses against non-marquee opponents is more than what Top Rank is willing to shell out, he’ll need to go the purse bid process each time, and that could get ugly.

For now, Teofimo is fighting for Triller in his next bout against his IBF mandatory George Kambosos Jr on May 29th or June 5th. Triller won the recent purse bid to stage the Teofimo vs. Kambosos Jr fight.

It’s unclear whether they’re just doing this to get their name out there or if they believe the boxing fans are eager to purchase this fight on PPV.

It looks like a fail on paper, but Triller will obviously motivate the fan to purchase it.

If the Teofimo vs. Kambosos Jr fight bombs on PPV, Triller will have at least learned their lesson when it comes to making purse bids on fights that the fans have no interest in.

The obvious thing for Triller have done was to take note of what Top Rank was willing to pay for the Lopez-Kambosos Jr. They have the experience and know what sells and what doesn’t.

If Top Rank thought the fight would sell, they would have paid Teofimo the money he was asking for.

Teofimo could help if he vacated his IBF title and fought someone that the fans care to see him fight like Vasily Lomachenko or Devin Haney, but he’s not going to do that.

Teofimo wants the Kambosos Jr fight, and it’s easy to see why. Kambosos Jr barely beat 37-year-old Mickey Bey and Lee Selby recently, and those are guys the Four Kings would likely decimate.

Not only the four Kings but also some of the non-kings like Jorge Linares, Richard Commey, and Javier Fortuna.

Teofimo says too much damage has been done

“George Kambosos on May 29th or June 5th,” said Teofimo to Fighthub about his next fight. “The commentators that will be on will be phenomenal, and it will definitely draw more eyes to the sport.

Image: Teofimo Lopez talks about future with Top Rank: There's no going back

“No, not at all,” said Teofimo when asked if he’ll be frozen out by Top Rank, forced to sit on the shelf. “I know these things play out for some odd reason, and that odd reason is in my favor.

“It’s an even for me. There’s too much damage that has been done. We look forward to seeing what happens next. The damage has been done; there’s no way of going back,” said Teofimo about Top Rank.

It doesn’t sound good between Teofimo and Top Rank, but you never know. With the right communication, the two could patch things up.

What could be the major problem moving forward is the expectations that Teofimo has in terms of purses.

If he expects Top Rank to pay him $4-6 million for his mandatory defenses against obscure fighters like George Kambosos Jr other unknown guys, they’re going to have problems.

For Top Rank to pay Teofimo that kind of money, they would need to stick ALL of his fights on ESPN pay-per-view, and it’s not likely those types of fights sell.

Triller is about to find out for themselves how difficult it can be to bring in a lot of buys a fight that the boxing public has little interest in seeing between Teofimo and Kambosos.

If Teofimo stays with Teofimo for the remaining 3 1/2 years of his contract, he can force purse bids for his mandatory defenses if he stays at 135.

The problem is, Triller might be there to come to Teofimo’s rescue to overpay for his fights don’t sell against his mandatory challengers.

If Triller gets burned badly on the Teofimo vs. Kambosos Jr fight, which they paid a fortune for, they’re not going to be amped up to pay huge money for Teofimo’s future mandatory defenses.

Leaving Top Rank won’t fix the problem that Teofimo has. He’s got to shed these useless belts and focus on fighting the popular guys that fans might be more inclined to pay to see him fight.

Holding onto one title is fine for Teofimo, as it would save him from being stuck fighting repeated mandatory challengers that fans aren’t willing to pay to see him fight.

What it looks like from the outside is Teofimo is going to hold onto all four titles at 135 as long as possible and use them as a pawn to force purse bids with the hope that companies like Triller or Matchroom will be willing to overpay for fights that won’t sell.

It might work once or twice, but the promotional companies won’t keep overpaying if they’re repeatedly burned by the low PPV numbers for Teofimo’s fights.

Right now, Teofimo seems to think he’s got a good gimmick by forcing his mandatory fights to purse bids, but that gimmick is going to fail once his fights start bombing on PPV.

The obvious question is, why doesn’t Teofimo want to focus on fighting the best guys like Haney, Tank, Lomachenko, and Ryan Garcia? Maybe he sees the easy money from the mandatory as more appealing because he can milk his titles without the worry of losing.

If Teofimo fights the top guys, he could close. Let’s face it; Teofimo didn’t look that great against Lomachenko last October. He probably would have lost that fight if Lomachenko had been healthy, as many boxing fans believe.

Lopez expects to fight the Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez winner

“There are so many possibilities, I don’t see why not,” said Teofimo about him fighting the winner of the Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez fight.

Image: Teofimo Lopez talks about future with Top Rank: There's no going back

“Me being undisputed at 135; usually the champion can go up and be ranked #1 or #2, and become mandatory for those guys.

“It [problems with Top Rank] shouldn’t affect that fight. It’s up to Ramirez and Taylor what they do as well. Whether they want to move up to 147 or stay and make the fight happen to shut my big mouth up,” said Teofimo.

Without Top Rank making a move to set up a fight between Teofimo and the Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez fight winner, that match might not take place.

More importantly, the Taylor vs. Ramirez fight winner isn’t going to wait around for a long time for Teofimo to move up to 140 to fight them finally.

Teofimo is fighting George Kambosos Jr, and after that, he’s taking he wants to fight the other three Kings, Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, or Gervonta Davis.

All of that will take time for Teofimo, which means he won’t be moving up to 140 to face the Taylor-Ramirez winner before they leave the division to go up to 147.

The only way Teofimo will fight the winner is if he goes up to 140 immediately after the Kambosos fight. Will Teofimo do that? It isn’t very likely.

Lomachenko is #2 at 135 says Teofimo

“He’s still a top dude,” said Teofimo about Vasily Lomachenko. “After me, it’s him in my division.

“It tends to happen to fighters that face Teofimo,” said Lopez when told that Lomachenko is being written off by fans. Lomachenko-Nakatani is a great match-up, and everybody will be tuning in for it,” said Teofimo.

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It’s interesting that Teofimo still views Vasily Lomachenko as being in the top two at 135, considering that many boxing fans now believe he’s not even in the top four.

Lomachenko’s loss to Teofimo last October has resulted in him being demoted to below Devin Haney, Teofimo, Ryan Garcia, and Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis at 135.

On the flip side, many fans still view Lomachenko as #1, and they attribute his loss to Teofimo as being caused by a right shoulder injury. He had surgery after the fight to repair the problem.

Teofimo’s unwillingness to give Lomachenko a rematch is viewed by fans as a sign that he doesn’t believe he can win against a healthy Loma.

What feeds that belief if Teofimo’s decision to take a lesser fight against George Kambosos Jr, who he could have steered around if he’d asked the International Boxing Federation to give him an exception.

Teofimo chose to fight Kambosos rather than ask the IBF to allow him to face Lomachenko in a rematch, which gives the fans the impression that he didn’t want to face Loma again.