- Kieran Mulvaney, Boxing
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LAS VEGAS -- His relationship with Floyd Mayweather Jr., at the center of so many episodes of "24/7," may have cratered, and with it the ballyhooed TMT Promotions. But 50 Cent's interest in boxing remains fully intact, as do his promotional designs, and on Thursday at the MGM Grand he brought the kind of high-wattage star power rarely, if ever, associated with an undercard press conference.
"Look at how many cameras I have in my face," he said, smiling as he huddled with reporters, a protective arm draped around his marquee signing, undefeated Cuban exile Yuriorkis Gamboa. TMT has become SMS, and Gamboa's junior lightweight title clash with Michael Farenas -- the co-main event on Saturday's Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez HBO pay-per-view card -- marks 50 Cent's debut as a boxing promoter.
It's a transition he has, to this point, found seamless.
"I'm familiar with the cameras," he said. "The messaging points are a little different, but other than that, I'm at home with this. You think about it, with the other promoters, you couldn't pick them out of a lineup if you're not an extreme boxing fan. The hip-hop culture and pop culture makes me someone whom immediately makes who I'm standing to notable."
There is, of course, a lot more to it all than that, as he well knows, and the logistical nuts and bolts of the promotional process are things he is still learning. "I wasn't actually involved in the mechanics of the Floyd fights," he points out.
Ah yes, Floyd. Fifty mentions him a couple of times, casually and without any evident regret or malice -- although he does offer (and points out that he has said so to Floyd's face) that "the only thing wrong with the messaging points of being the 'Money Man' in a recession is that people are buying tickets to see you lose, instead of watching how good you are. And it's because they're hurting financially while you're showing that you have all the money in the world."
50 Cent -- real name Curtis Jackson -- admits that a year ago, when he and Mayweather were close associates, he couldn't have imagined being involved in a Top Rank show, let alone one headlined by Manny Pacquiao.
But, he said, "I do the best thing possible for the talent I'm working with. The best possible position for Gamboa, coming back after being off 15 months, is to be on a Manny Pacquiao card. It's amazing."
Besides, shortly after TMT's conception -- and notwithstanding his nominal business partner -- "I immediately opened the lines of communication to Bob Arum. Because how do you not do business with Top Rank?"
As have others, the rapper looks at boxing and sees a sport that needs to both attract a younger demographic and put on cards that are consistently more entertaining, from top to bottom -- and addressing one, he thinks, will help with the other.
"We should do away with main event fights," he said. "The whole card should be a main event. And only make cards that are exciting enough for us to watch the whole show. You look at arenas, you sit down and you feel like the arena probably didn't sell out until 36 minutes before it's over. The main event starts, and the place is full. Even if it means moving some of the theatrics that you see in WWE into a sport that doesn't have a question mark. See, we know boxing is real. But if you add those different elements to it, I think you'll have something where people are entertained enough for the entire show."
All of which, of course, is easier said than done. And all of which, assuming his involvement in the sport endures, lies in the future. For now, Fifty's focus is on Gamboa; by all accounts, his fighter's ring entrance on Saturday will not only announce the Cuban's arrival in the arena, it will announce his promoter's arrival in the business -- and will do so in exactly the style that the music mogul says the sport needs.
"When Gamboa arrives in the ring, you're going to see an entrance like you've never seen before," Arum said. "It's going to blow your socks off."