Teofimo Lopez Jr. looks likely to defend his unified lightweight championship belts against IBF mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. next, after the governing body on Friday ordered the fight to take place.
IBF Chairman of the Championship Committee Carlos Ortiz announced that negotiations should commence immediately and be concluded by February 6. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement for this fight within 30 days, the IBF will call for a purse bid.
Many fans had hoped that the lightweight division's "Big Four" — Lopez, WBC champion Devin Haney, WBC mandatory Ryan Garcia and WBA regular titleholder Gervonta "Tank" Davis — would face off with one another and crown an undisputed champion before 2021 was over.
That still remains a possibility, but like that quartet Kambosos is also undefeated and earned his way into the title picture with a hard-fought decision win over Lee Selby in Selby's native England, at the SSE Arena on Oct. 31.
Bob Arum, who promotes Lopez at Top Rank, has seen the Honduran-American's stock rise especially after his Oct. 17 unification win over amateur and professional great Vasiliy Lomachenko. It has been reported that Arum is already looking into the possibility of Lopez heading into his opponent's back yard once again, as Kamboso's home country of Australia currently has fewer COVID-19 restrictions than the United States or the U.K. and could host elite boxing's first huge crowd in a year.
Lopez told Boxing Scene that the proposal intrigues him greatly, meaning the likes of Garcia, Tank and Haney can wait.
“I think it’s a great opportunity—not just for Kambosos, but for the people in Australia, and also for us,” Lopez said. “it’s an opportunity we are willing to take, something we are very willing to do.
“Money talks, bullsh—t walks, right? If they want the king over there, they gotta pay up. I think it will be a very smart move.
“It will be amazing to be able to fight with however many they can allow in attendance, 40-, 50,000. It will shut everyone’s mouth about my (drawing power).”
Garcia — who rallied from his first career knockdown to stop Luke Campbell in seven on Jan. 2 — and Davis are expected to fight each other in the meantime after exchanging barbs on Mike Tyson's podcast, culminating in them both agreeing to settle things in the ring.