Big Boxing Management Firm Faces Major Challenges In 2021
It was a career year for Split-T Management in 2020. The crown jewel of the firm, Teofimo Lopez, beat one of the best fighters of a generation in Vasyl Lomachenko, alongside that Jose “Chon” Zepeda went to war with Split T’s Ivan Baranchyk in a bout that ended via a brutal knockout, that saw the two, win the fight of the year honors.
It was the type of success the company probably envisioned when they started out on this venture, as nothing seemingly went wrong.
When the smoke cleared most major boxing media outlets saw, Teofimo Lopez as the consensus fighter of the year, his father Junior Lopez as the trainer of the year, Zepeda vs. Baranchyk as the fight of the year, and David McWater as the manager of the year.
An illustration of a baseball diamond was sent to the media to illustrate the crowning achievement as Split-T grand slam, a metaphor for the highest form of points that can be scored in a baseball game at one time.
Enter 2021, and a lot of new hurdles now exist.
For starters, Teofimo Lopez has not returned to the ring, yet, and it is now August, and will probably be out of the ring for a full year since the biggest win of his career. Lopez vs. George Kambosos Jnr saga is long-and-boring, so I won’t get into it as it is the business of boxing, and you need to essentially pay for me to care.
A quick summary of what is occurring saw, Lopez go to pursue a bid to fight Kambosos, only to have Triller win the bid, over Top Rank Inc, and Matchroom USA. Lopez’s promoter, Top Rank Inc, bid the lowest on the bout might I add. Then after pushing the bout back two weeks based upon Floyd Mayweather fighting the same weekend as the fight card, Lopez contracted COVID-19 and was unable to fight.
That being said, Lopez has not entered the ring, yet – and is one of the most interesting fighters in all of boxing.
In a behind-the-scenes move, Tim VanNewhouse, a long-time partner in the company, announced earlier this year, that he had left Split-T, which I wrote about prior, as this was a major shake-up in the industry, as VanNewhouse had been seen as one of the faces of the company.
This is now followed by Diego Pacheco suing his management team as reported by BoxingScene.com. Pacheco claims his management team was never properly licensed as a manager within the state of California, which is Pacheco’s place of residence, and California law, all major participants of a boxing card – from the fighters to the managers to the cutmen – must be licensed with the California State Athletic Commission.
Add to this, 2016 Olympian Charles Conwell, and his half-brother, Isaiah “Z-Wop” Steen – per popular IG page, Ohio Runs Boxing, are now going to have their coach Otha Jones II, consult on their behalf, who will then consult with Split-T’s CEO, McWater as an extra layer of communication.
Sources close to the situation say a heated argument prior to Steen’s ShoBox bout on July 23rd was a breaking point for all parties involved.
This is noteworthy as according to BoxRec, at least sixty fighters are currently with the company.
The old adage once goes “if you ever wanted to lose a friend, start a business with them.”
Split-T is still one of the most powerful entities in the sport of boxing, but now, like Spiderman said “…with great power comes responsibility.” As well as that, boxing like life is a what have you done for me lately sport, and now after such a great year, it looks as though Split-T will have to do what all companies have to do, which is sitting back, and reevaluate how to move forward in the ever-changing landscape of boxing during a global pandemic, and new streaming services emerging, seemingly yearly.
This is something to keep your eyes on.