When video-streaming and social networking app Triller first dipped into the boxing arena, they made one hell of a splash. The company first landed in the event hosting sphere in the spring of 2020, hosting Trillerfest—a streaming music festival featuring Snoop Dogg and Wyclef Jean among other notable music acts. A few months later they announced their first boxing event: a PPV card featuring an exhibition bout between retired legends Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.
A star studded affair, the PPV was reported (somewhat dubiously) as having sold over 1.6 million buys. With several music acts interspersed throughout, a number of celebrity special guests, and some major fight purses to pay off, however, it’s not at all clear if Triller ever actually made any kind of profit off their success—even with its potentially massive sales numbers. As if to highlight that possibility, Tyson himself went public a few months later with claims that he still hadn’t been paid his full cut from the event.
Misgivings aside, another big show followed shortly on heels of Tyson/RJJ. Budding celebrity boxing star Jake Paul took on former Bellator & One champion—and recently retired UFC talent—Ben Askren in a PPV main event that also featured performances from Justin Bieber, The Black Keys, Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube among others. Triller was still very much all-in on their formula of packing events with as much curb appeal as they possibly could, while holding fights that were barely even at an amateur level in quality.
In September of 2021, the promotion brought in former president Donald Trump to do commentary for a card featuring 58-year-old heavyweight legend Evander Holyfield in a boxing exhibition against former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort. Also on the card, a boxing bout between former UFC champs Anderson Silva & Tito Ortiz, and a showcase exhibition bout for former heavyweight boxing champion David Haye. More money, more celebrities, more spectacularly bad fights. If that didn’t seem like a recipe for success, it turns out it very likely wasn’t.
Triller held five more cards following Holyfield vs. Belfort, but saw just as many cancelled due to a variety of problems. Earlier that year the promotion won a purse bid for lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez to take on George Kambosos, for which Triller also signed a longterm deal with former HBO boxing commentator Jim Lampley. Following multiple problems with which date, which venue, and even in which country the fight would be held—and following nearly $10 million in expenses promoting the bout—the bid was re-awarded to Matchroom. Lampley never worked an event.
Alongside the logistical struggles, Triller was hit by several lawsuits and multiple claims of unfulfilled contractual agreements. BoxrecGrey, editor for boxing database BoxRec.com, put together a compendium of the least glorious aspects of the promotion’s two year run of events—so far the thread is 80 Tweets deep and counting.
November 28, 2020 – Triller becomes the broadcasting partner for an eight round exhibition match between Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.
This would be the launching point for the Triller boxing brand and the only event for Mike Tyson’s Legend’s Only League. pic.twitter.com/wFs7vikmur
— Triller Boxing Historian (@BoxrecGrey) September 15, 2022
This whole long trip down memory lane comes in the wake of a recent report from boxing journalist Dan Rafael that, following numerous reported financial struggles, it seems Triller is now out of the boxing business.
Following up on Triller finally paying the fighters months late under lawsuit threats, it has come to my attention it has not paid dozens of vendors on this event. Left high & dry TV crew folks, support staff, credential folks, etc. They’re talking to lawyers. https://t.co/s8wTKhKown
— Dan Rafael (@DanRafael1) September 15, 2022
The promotion’s last scheduled event, a contest between former unified heavyweight boxing champion Andy Ruiz Jr. and former Glory two-division champion kickboxer Tyrone Spong, was cancelled almost immediately after being announced. The bout was set to take place in Mexico City on July 16th. Unfortunately for Triller, it seems Ruiz was already under contract with Premier Boxing Champions to face Luis Ortiz before negotiations for the Spong fight even began.
Triller made a big dynamic entrance into the boxing world. The exit, it seems, has been long and slow and painful for everyone involved.