After the original June 5 date was shelved, Triller’s June 19 title fight date has been rescheduled for mid-August. News broke this afternoon confirming unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez had tested positive for COVID-19 and was described as symptomatic – again delaying the first defence of his new titles against Australia’s George Kambosos Jr until later this summer.
Bad timing as COVID-19 sidelines Lopez at start of fight week
Since making his professional debut with a second-round knockout win over Ishwar Siqueiros in November 2016, Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs) had enjoyed a fairly active in-ring run of fights.
Undoubtedly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, his impressive UD win over Vasily Lomachenko last October ended a period lasting 309 days where he didn’t fight – having produced a blistering TKO to end Richard Commey’s night inside two rounds (December 2019).
Time between Lopez’s fights
Commey-Lomachenko: 309 days (10 months, four days)
Lomachenko-Kambosos Jr: 302 days (9 months, 29 days)
Now, another 300-day stint of inactivity is in store for Lopez, who turns 24 on July 30 and hasn’t been as regularly in competition compared with WBC champion Devin Haney (26-0, 15 KOs).
Haney, who ended a year-long spell on the sidelines with a comprehensive – yet uninspiring – decision win over Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa on November 7, already made his first appearance of 2021 where he prevailed during an entertaining matchup against Jorge Linares last month.
It’s not uncommon for top boxers to spend extended periods on the sidelines, up to and over a full calendar year for multiple reasons, including deciding upon upcoming opponents. Just look at Tyson Fury and the heavyweight picture, 16 months after he dethroned Deontay Wilder.
That’s not the case here. Lopez and Top Rank, his promotional company, failed to agree terms on the latter’s fight offer – so a purse bid was called, which Triller won, for a $6m (£4.2m) fee.
Initially announced for June 5 in Miami, the bout and supporting card was moved to take place this Saturday (June 19) – presumably to avoid a scheduling clash with Floyd Mayweather vs Logan Paul taking place that same weekend. Early on fight week, the timing couldn’t be worse.
Hopefully, Lopez recovers back to 100% health in relatively quick time so he can focus on training once more, as we’ve seen multiple boxers detail their experiences after testing positive for COVID-19 over the past year – including Alexander Povetkin, who retired yesterday aged 41.
Picture source: Getty Images