Bob Arum and Teofimo Lopez have drawn their proverbial lines in the sand.
Their respective stances have placed the unbeaten IBF lightweight champion’s showdown with Vasiliy Lomachenko in jeopardy. They’re tentatively scheduled to fight October 3 in Las Vegas, but Arum disagrees with Lopez and Lopez’s manager, David McWater, on how much money the biggest fight of Lopez’s career should be worth to him.
“We explained to them we have no gate [revenue], no closed-circuit [revenue],” Arum told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “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.”
The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger reported Thursday that Arum’s Top Rank Inc. has offered Lopez roughly a $1.2 million purse for facing Lomachenko in a lightweight title unification fight. Lopez’s purse, if he accepted that offer, would be worth slightly more than a third of what Lomachenko would be guaranteed for their 12-round, 135-pound title fight.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), a three-division champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, is a more established fighter than Brooklyn’s Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) and is commonly considered one of the top three boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport. If their bout were the main event of an ESPN Pay-Per-View show, however, it would mark Lomachenko’s debut as a pay-per-view headliner as well.
“Everybody is trying to do the right thing,” McWater told ESPN.com. “But there doesn’t seem to be enough money for everybody. We were willing to take a hair cut from what was expected before, but not one of the magnitude presented to us.”
The impasse they’ve reached could lead Lopez to pursue an opponent other than Lomachenko for his next bout.
“I think more likely we would take another fight at 135 and revisit [the Lomachenko fight],” McWater said. “To me, a lot of this has to do with ESPN. I mean, if they want the fight, I think they should find a way to make it work for Top Rank. Bob’s right, Top Rank shouldn’t have to lose money on this – but neither should Teofimo. The big winner here would be ESPN. I feel it should be incumbent on them to find a way to make this happen.”
Arum’s company has an exclusive deal to provide content for ESPN.
The 88-year-old promoter told BoxingScene.com last week that it remained possible ESPN would televise Lomachenko-Lopez live on the network. Arum added that ESPN Pay-Per-View and ESPN+, the network’s $5-per-month streaming service, also were potential platforms for that fight.
Lomachenko, 32, and Lopez, 23, were supposed to meet May 30 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Contracts for that bout weren’t finalized before the COVID-19 pandemic brought boxing to a standstill for nearly three months in the middle of March.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.