COMMENTARY | It's been about a year since multi-platinum rapper 50 Cent decided to enter the world of big-time boxing promotion. And although he began with a bang and with much fanfare, it soon became apparent why the the boxing business is perhaps even harder to conquer than the music business.
The rapper made his first tentative moves in the industry via an alliance with five-division world champ and boxing cash-cow Floyd Mayweather. From there, "Fiddy" went from ring walk rapping to general talk of, maybe, acquiring his own stable of fighters as a member of "The Money Team" with Mayweather.
Never more than an informal alliance, The Money Team generated plenty of buzz from fans and media who recognized the sport-shattering potential of combining Mayweather's drawing ability with 50 Cent's fame and business acumen.
While Mayweather was serving his 90-day sentence for domestic battery last summer, the rapper stepped up his plans and, in July, began to push The Money Team alliance as if it were a definite business venture, just waiting for Mayweather's release to make it official.
However, upon release, Mayweather was cold to the idea and separated himself from his perceived partnership with 50, sparking a brief but brutal social media war with his former best friend that captured headlines in both the boxing and music media. The widely reported rumor at the time was that 50 Cent, working with a Team Mayweather insider, was trying to convince Mayweather to separate himself from both advisor Al Haymon and his informal partnership with Golden Boy in order to fully commit to the rapper and The Money Team promotional company.
When Mayweather refused to ditch the alliances that helped make him the highest paid athlete in the world, bad feelings between the two stars came to the surface and led to the split. From there, 50 Cent formed SMS Promotions for his boxing aspirations and has been hyping the upstart company ever since.
Throughout this process, the rapper signed a small handful of legitimate world-class talent to his team, giving observers the impression that the music mogul was indeed serious about being a boxing mogul. Cuban Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa, super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell, and featherweight world titlist Billy Dib anchored the SMS team with a small stable of young talent below them serving as the foundation for future growth.
Immediately, though, it became clear that the rapper had a ways to go before he could become a true force in the business.
A lack of infrastructure forced him to outsource his talent to compete on rival promoters' cards. As a matter of fact, until July 5 of this year, SMS Promotions had yet to even run a fully self-sufficient house show.
And as for the fighters signed to 50 Cent's team -- things have been more than a little shaky at times.
Yuriorkis Gamboa, considered by most to be the SMS fighter with the greatest potential, has fought twice since 50 bought out his contract from Top Rank and has looked less than scintillating. A tougher than expected decision over Michael Farenas in December of last year was followed by a dreadfully boring decision snoozer over Darleys Perez in June. Gamboa can still generate interest, but he desperately needs to perform up to the level of his ability.
Andre Dirrell, plagued by inactivity, injury, and apparent disinterest is still just a part-time fighter, competing just once during his SMS run so far -- winning a one-sided unanimous decision against club fighter Michael Gbenga back in February of this year.
Australia's Billy Dib would drop his IBF featherweight title to Evgeny Gradovich in March of this year via split decision but return with a majority decision win over Mike Oliver in July. In many ways, despite the title loss, Dib has been the most consistently entertaining member of the SMS Team, but one with a fairly limited future on the featherweight main stage.
Below the primary characters, young fighters like Mark Davis, Luis Olivares, and Donte Strayhorn offer promise, but it may be years before they really start making their mark in the sport.
All in all, the success of SMS Promotions so far really depends on the perspective of the observer.
If one expected 50 Cent to wedge himself into the industry and create a true revolution, the experiment has been a dismal failure. However, as an upstart promotional company just wading into the deep end of the prizefighting pool, things are actually going quite well. 50 Cent is by no means ruling the domain, but he has carved out a decent spot for himself. That's certainly good enough for now.
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
- Sports & Recreation
- Floyd Mayweather
- 50 Cent
- Yuriorkis Gamboa