Ryan Kavanaugh is counting down to the third Triller Fight Club event, which takes place June 19 in Miami, headlined by Teofimo Lopez’s return against George Kambosos Jr.
Triller seems to not go a week without making a bold move, and on Tuesday they dropped a doozy, announcing they’d signed ex-HBO blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley to a multi-year deal. That sent a message that Triller will indeed be staying a while at the boxing party, and also that they are intent on satisfying purist fight fans.
On the “Friday At the Fights with Randy Gordon and Gerry Cooney” on SiriusXM, Kavanaugh said he sees the deal with Lampley — considered by many the gold standard in his field — as a home run. The executive had heard that it might be difficult to get the veteran on board, but Lampley told Kavanaugh he digs the Triller style, so there wasn’t a prolonged negotiation period.
Kavanaugh was asked about the shift of the date from June 5 to June 19, and said that originally they weren’t planning on having a live audience for the show, but when it became apparent that COVID was being tamped down enough to allow for a large audience to attend, thinking changed. Giving Triller more time to get butts into seats in Miami for Lopez-Kambosos was a no-brainer, he stated.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is to take the art of boxing, and the purity and the skill of boxing, and surround it with entertainment and a show that appeals to more than just the boxing purists,” he said. Whereas previously, Triller skewed toward an audience that was young, hip, and irreverent; this time, Kavanaugh is hoping that the younger crew will come back and fall more in love with the product, because they’ll be wowed by Lopez.
Kavanaugh was asked about Showtime signing Jake Paul, as well.
“It’s flattering,” he said. “But what I find ironic — and I love those guys, and obviously they’re super successful — but they were the ones that were most vocally shitting on us.”
Kavanaugh said Showtime “paid more than twice as much as what we would have paid and they’re allowing him to do a fight that we said no to.” The fight he refers to pits Jake Paul against Tyron Woodley, who had been a UFC champion before going on a losing streak.
Kavanaugh also took aim at UFC boss Dana White, who is blocking Georges St-Pierre from fighting Oscar De La Hoya on a Triller event.
“Out of respect, we all went to Dana to ask for approval and he said no. I called him, I texted him, and I said, ‘Let’s talk, maybe we can do something that’s beneficial to both parties,’ and you guys heard in the press conference he didn’t return my calls or my texts and kind of shits on us.”
He offered to put up a million bucks for a charity of Dana’s choice, he explained, but hasn’t gotten a yes from White.
“The good news is Oscar wants it more than anything, he’s training very hard for the fight we’re going to have in September. GSP doesn’t stop training, he wants it. I hope that Dana will (ask himself), ‘Why am I blocking this? What’s the point?’ It’s not good for him, not good for the concept of fighting, for any of us, because it makes it seem like fighters are almost locked into slave contracts of some sort, and they’re not.
“I just don’t understand the effect. Let’s go have some fun, help market the UFC, put some money in a charity’s pocket and give these guys both some money and watch a fight the world would love to see.”