Floyd Mayweather Jr. doesn't have a Harvard education like his adviser Al Haymon (or like promoters Bob Arum and Lou DiBella, for that matter), but the world's finest boxer showed his wisdom a few months ago when he chose to side with Haymon over one-time good buddy 50 Cent.
Mayweather and 50 Cent, the rapper whose real name is Curtis Jackson, got into a very public feud not long after Mayweather's August release from the Clark County Detention Center.
For a while, it had seemed that Mayweather and 50 would partner in a promotional company that would instantly become significant because of their ownership. It seemed like a good way to broker a Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight, as well. But when they had a personal falling out -- and let's be honest, it's almost impossible to know what's really going on between them, because the accounts of the so-called feud change almost daily -- Jackson decided to go his own way.
On Thursday, the Nevada Athletic Commission conditionally granted Jackson's SMS Promotions a promoter's license, essentially giving him entree into boxing's big-time. He's now licensed in Nevada, New York, Florida and Connecticut, which is more states than he has fighters under contract.
He won't have Mayweather, though, and he's apparently not going to go into business with Pacquiao either. After an early flirtation, nothing has been formalized between Jackson and Pacquiao. His fighters under contract so far are Andre Dirrell, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Billy Dib, notable mostly for their inactivity and inability to sell tickets.
Dirrell hasn't fought since Dec. 30, 2011, his only bout in 30 months. Prior to that, he was last in the ring March 3, 2010. Gamboa last fought on Sept. 10, 2011, while Dib at least has a pair of 2012 fights under his belt (not that anyone noticed).
Following his Nevada hearing, Jackson spoke with Las Vegas columnist Ed Graney and questioned Mayweather's business tactics. No doubt, Mayweather does not have an MBA, and Jackson has had far more success in the business world. But Jackson overlooks the fact that it is Haymon, not Mayweather, making the decisions for the superstar fighter. In the boxing business, Haymon is as good as it gets.
Countless fighters have appeared on premium cable networks who otherwise would not have had it not been for their affiliation with Haymon. Haymon is so good, he might have Butterbean in contention for a title shot and HBO and Showtime bidding for his services were he still around.
Sports Illustrated columnist Chris Mannix detailed Haymon's influence well in a piece about heavyweight Seth Mitchell, who almost incredibly is a contender despite no opponents of note. Mannix wrote:
The days of earning credibility in boxing are gone, crushed by Al Haymon, whose out-of-control relationships with television networks have left us with this: Unproven fighters propped up to be stars. The influential advisor -- whatever that ambiguous title means -- that has shoved Gary Russell Jr., Keith Thurman and, most recently, a collection of medal-less 2012 U.S. Olympians onto your flat screens is also the man behind Seth Mitchell, the middle linebacker turned boxer who despite no resume whatsoever is collecting large paydays and motoring towards a world title shot.
So, as long as Mayweather allows Haymon to call the shots, he won't have to worry much about how to pay the light bills. It's once he's out of the sport and Haymon has moved on that Mayweather may have something to worry about.
Jackson told Graney that Mayweather is all about spending his dough and fighting only when he needs more.
He just made a decision that doesn't involve logic. On the business side of things, I'm obviously more involved. When he was incarcerated for those 60 days, you saw how things went with the acquisitions of fighters I made. There was a different energy on the business and boxing side of things. Mayweather Promotions doesn't even really exist. Who is even there?
Floyd has a system: fight. Get the money. Spend the money. Fight. Get the money. Spend the money. I wanted to develop a company where he could stay in the game after [retirement]. Now, he's right back into a very vulnerable state. What kind of businessmen do you usually get with most fighters?
Mayweather is no dummy, but Jackson makes a good point. Witness this video, in which Mayweather lays out his jewelry and boasts about its value. Hopefully, he won't find himself in the same financial position that so many other fighters and athletes have found themselves in when their careers end and the big money is no longer rolling in: Dead broke with a mountain of bills.
Still, Jackson without Mayweather or Pacquiao is little more than a B player in boxing. Top Rank and Golden Boy have the best fighters and the best infrastructure. They have the contacts with the television networks, with the advertisers and with the venues. They understand what a good deal for a fighter is and what is a bad deal. They never would have paid Dirrell, Gamboa and Dib the kind of money that Jackson is paying because they knew it was a losing proposition.
Gamboa's decision to sign with Jackson's company looks foolish when one follows his moves through. Gamboa had been under a co-promotional contract with Top Rank and Arena Box and was slated earlier this year to fight Brandon Rios in what would have been a highly anticipated bout. But as the press tour began, Gamboa no-showed.
He was eventually yanked from the fight and expressed displeasure with his promotional contract. He showed up at Mayweather's Las Vegas gym and had an attorney/mouthpiece talking about how mistreated he was.
Top Rank sued Gamboa, but eventually came to terms on a release with him, who then signed with Jackson's SMS. So, what good came of Gamboa throwing away a year of his career during his prime, you ask?
Good question. Gamboa is going to fight an opponent to be named on Dec. 8 in Las Vegas on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV. The promoter of that bout? Of course, none other than Bob Arum and Top Rank.
So, Gamboa gives up a lucrative payday and what would have been a career-defining match against Rios, demands and gets a release from his deal, signs with SMS and winds up fighting on a Top Rank card once again. That all sounds worth the trouble, doesn't it?
Jackson will co-promote the Dec. 8 show with Top Rank, to be technical, though his role will be to speak on Gamboa's behalf at the news conference and have his company's banner hanging above the ring. All the heavy lifting for that show has been done and will be done by Top Rank.
Jackson has proven he's an astute businessman, though many extraordinarily savvy businessmen over the years have run screaming in the other direction after having gotten involved in boxing.
It's not out of the question that SMS Promotions could become a player, but he certainly needs to show more savvy than he's shown. His signings have been decidedly poor and his public courtship of Pacquiao didn't make much sense.
If he's content to promote his fighters on the undercards of other promoters' big shows, he'll get by and he'll probably make some money. He won't, though, become another Haymon by doing that.
Jackson expressed concern to Graney for Mayweather and said no one is looking out for him. That much is true. Mayweather has a small cadre of friends from his native Grand Rapids, Mich., who have been around him for years, but the large entourage also consists of plenty of hangers on who want to be in the limelight and who hope to be on the receiving end of some of Mayweather's money. When the money is gone, they will be gone, too. You can count on that. That scene has played out over and over throughout the years.
Floyd is following in that same tradition. Everyone around him is a codependent. He's a good person at heart, but those around him are not protecting him, and they're leaving him to burn through all his money and possessions. They won't protect him from himself.
Jackson, though, needs some protection as well if he's going to make it in the boxing business. He needs a sage boxing person such as Top Rank's Hall of Fame matchmaker Bruce Trampler. No fight gets made at Top Rank without Trampler's OK. Similarly, Golden Boy uses the counsel of another Hall of Famer, legendary matchmaker/promoter Don Chargin.
Jackson needs that kind of person and he needs it badly. And he needs to get staff and get rolling.
As it stands now, it's Haymon, who has found a way to manage fighters and promote fights without needing a promoter's or manager's license, who has the decided upper hand.