I had my first chat with rapper-mogul 50 Cent today, and I came away impressed, thinking it more likely that the man is going to succeed in the boxing business. Not being a rap fan, I honestly hadn't seen much of him, other than his stints palling around on 24/7's with Floyd Mayweather. There, he goofed a good deal, doing schticks with stacks of bills and the like.
But when we heard that 50 was going to be a fight promoter, I didn't assume that his success in the music world, or in choosing investments, such as the one in Glaceau, the beverage company, which was sold to Coke and netted him up to $100 million, would immeditaely or neccesarily translate to success in putting together fight promotions. All the more so when the bond between 50 and Mayweather frayed this summer, into the fall. But after my Friday afternoon, 20 minute talk with the man born Curtis Jackson, I felt like we are likely to see his presence in the arena of pugilistic promotion for a good spell.
Fifty, and yes, I asked the PR person who facilitated the call if I should call him "Fifty," told me that he wants to soak up all the knowledge he can in the shortest amount of time possible. So, that meant co-promoting with Top Rank on Dec. 8, and with Lou Dibella, at a Foxwoods show, on March 1. Fifty said it made sense to align with Dibella, who has so much experience in boxing, because both are in NY.
Six or so months ago, we all would have assumed, I think, that his road would have been smoother, because of the Mayweather connection. But their Money Team splintered, so Fifty is now working on a less grandiose scale, with Yuriorkis Gamboa as his top gun, instead of Floyd. That said, Fifty told me that he messaged Floyd, offered to promote this May 4 event, and put up a pot of $40 million. That deal didn't go down, but the rapper-promoter said the door hasn't shut on him helming a Floyd promotion.
Fifty told me he'd pick Guerrero as Floyd's foe May 4 if he had his way, and also said he thinks Mayweather and Pacquiao will never fight. Floyd is so A side, he basically said, he can pair up with a C side, and still have it be a massive event. Thus, he doesn't think Floyd has that same fire in his blood, to meet and beat the best, that he did early on.
Fifty got a taste of some different elements, such as ego, and expectations, when he wanted Gamboa to move up and fight Tim Bradley. Gamboa balked, he said, at moving up three weight classes, and Bradley balked at not getting paid more moolah. "There were multiple reasons," he said, exhibiting a calm, deliberate and adeptly political manner of handling sticky and/or difficult topics. Such as when I asked if he was blindsided by the report that Gamboa was a customer at a notorious Florida PED palace. "That comes with the territory of him being connected to me," he said. "During the time period mentioned in that story, Gamboa wasn't even fighting. He's never failed any test. Anyway, his training is ridiculously intense."
I wouldn't expect him to do anything but stick up for his guy...
Fifty showed an acumen beyond his limited time in this field when he noted that boxing has something in common with the garbage realm. We were talking about how some fighters get wins under their belts, and then change. They start to prize the undefeated status, and start paying excess attention to purses over anything else. "Boxing is the recycling business," he said. "A loss (for a boxer too focused on his undefeated record) wouldn't mean anything. Ask Ricky Hatton, look how fast he sold out the arena in his comeback."
You can expect 50 to bring some marketing smarts to the sport, connect his fighters to himself, and other music deities. Timbaland has gotten involved, and Fifty said he is close to announcing a deal with an outside-the-game star which will bring buzz to SMS. "We're going to connect to people in pop culture," he said. Attracting the younger UFC demo is on his to do list.
Readers, where do you think the 50 cent in boxing story goes? I think his record, as someone who succeeds, period, has to be respected. What say you?