How Floyd Mayweather Led 50 Cent to Yuriorkis Gamboa and the Boxing Business

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2014

If you happened to catch recording artist and boxing promoter Curtis Jackson’s first pitch at Citi Field on May 27, prior to the New York Mets’ game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, you know he isn’t afraid to try new things.

I mean, even if he should be afraid of trying a new thing, Jackson will still give it a go.

Jackson, who entertains audiences as rapper 50 Cent, told Bleacher Report that is just his style. He said he’s made all sorts of mistakes in his life, just like everyone else has, but he’s learned to take them in stride.

“You can’t take yourself too seriously, right?”

In fact, Jackson said trying new things is what helps make people like him successful.

“It’s part of the process. If people admire you because you’re doing something they aspire to do, they will really get a kick out of all the mistakes you make in the process. They’ll laugh at it and enjoy it. I’ve made lots of other mistakes, it’s just not as visible to everyone else. But to my circle and to the people who are around me, they see the mistakes and laugh at them. It’s not like it’s uncomfortable to me. I’ll make a joke out of the joke.”

Still, Jackson is an extremely accomplished and talented individual. He is one of the most well-known entertainers in the world and is actively involved in the kinds of things most folks can only dream about.

So while he may laugh off his mistakes, you can be sure he always gives his best effort at whatever he chooses to do.

One of those things, of course, is his boxing promotional venture, SMS Promotions. If you follow boxing regularly, you know the rapper’s most marketable commodity—Yuriorkis Gamboaheadlines a card on HBO Saturday, June 28 against Terence Crawford.

The card starts at 10:00 p.m. ET and pits two undefeated lightweights who are looking to make names for themselves in front of what is typically the largest television audience in boxing.

Jackson said he was looking forward to the fight, but that the only reason he really got involved with boxing in the first place was his tumultuous relationship with Floyd Mayweather.

“Before I actually acquired Gamboa’s contract from Top Rank, it was because Floyd had already communicated with Gamboa and started working something out. And I wasn’t aware of it at that point. I didn’t pay attention to the sport of boxing, like acquiring fighters and stuff like that, until Floyd was incarcerated.”

In 2012 Mayweather served two months of a three-month sentence stemming from a misdemeanor domestic battery case.

“At that point, he had assets lying around, things like the fighters that were going to leave. I knew they would’ve just gone back to who they had worked with previously, because that’s where they got money last, so each person would have went back to that person, and it would have been the end of things Floyd had been working on. So I went and I got everything together for him.”

But Jackson and Mayweather’s relationship soured after Mayweather was released, and the two have not worked together in the sport despite being involved with their own promotional companies.

“It’s cool. He didn’t want to pay for the fighters. I’ll always refer to Floyd as my brother. It’s no different than him having issues with [anyone else]; at different points you’re gonna fall out with him. It’s who he is.”

Jackson said he questions Mayweather’s ability to make decisions.

“I don’t have any hard feelings toward him. It’s just a decision he made. It doesn’t need logic connected to it. If you’re familiar with the sport of boxing, you understand there’s no logic necessary.”

Still, Jackson said it was Mayweather who got him interested in promoting fighters, particularly Gamboa. In fact, he saw the Cuban transplant for the first time when he was working out with Mayweather at his boxing gym.

“It was me, Gamboa and Floyd all working out and I watched him...the way he trains—it’s almost inhuman. The stuff you see them do preparing for the fight. It’s far more, in case anyone has any question about it. The process of preparing for the fight is definitely more wear and tear than the actual fight.”

Jackson said Mayweather told him Gamboa would someday be a big star.

“It was excitement. And Floyd was saying, ‘Yo, he the one’ and ‘he gonna be the next guy.’ In the early stages, he was saying that.”

But is Gamboa really that guy? Some would argue that a fighter hailing from Cuba would never be able to break through into the mainstream the way Mayweather has.

Jackson admitted it might be easier if his fighter hailed from a different background.

“If he was from Mexico, he’d be bigger than Floyd. If Floyd is pointing him out as the guy saying ‘he’s next’...I mean, he might have to go through the process, and everyone does, but if he’s pointing it out at that point...”

But Jackson said he still expects a breakthrough performance from Gamboa on Saturday. He said his fighter would surprise Crawford and anyone else who believes Gamboa to be the underdog.

“I think they’re going to be surprised at the performance Gamboa offers, because people think that because you have time off that you’re going to come in and display a little bit of rust or something, like you actually have to be under the lights to fight a real tough competitive fight. I don’t believe that, because he hasn’t stopped being active the entire time he’s been training and competing.”

While Gamboa has been inactive since his June 2013 win over Darleys Perez, Jackson said two cancelled bouts against Mikey Garcia have kept his fighter sharp and hungry.

“We had Mikey Garcia playing duck, duck, goose with us for nine months, you know? We had two dates set for the actual fight with full training camps taking place. You see what I’m saying? He’s prepared for whatever Crawford comes with.”

Jackson may be right. Gamboa is a superb technician with serious power in both fists. He may be too strong and skilled for Crawford. In fact, he may do all the things Jackson expects by putting on a great show under one of the brightest spotlights in the sport.

But will Gamboa’s career be guided by Jackson as he moves forward through the years? Is Jackson in this for the long haul?

To his credit, Jackson admitted he wasn’t so sure.

“It’s not my only gig. You know, I do other things. But I do like the sport and right now I’m up to being a part of it and involved.”

In fact, he said he’s simply a lover of the sport. He’s as big a boxing fan as anyone out there and proved it by referencing several recent off-radar fights.

“I’m not going to pretend not to be a fan of the sport. I’m passionate about it. I lived vicariously through Floyd, the same as he would do with me because he has an extreme passion for music.”

But Jackson said he’s committed to promoting Gamboa to his full potential. He said Gamboa’s talent, combined with Jackson’s ability to draw interest from mainstream fans because of his celebrity, will put Gamboa right where he needs to be. What happens then will be up to the fighter.

“There is no marketing campaign that is going to make a great champion. That’s made by discipline and by them putting themselves through what they have to go through.”

Jackson’s foray into boxing is sort of admirable, isn’t it? Think about it. He has nothing to gain in the sport of boxing. He is already rich, famous and successful as a recording artist. He’s been in movies and on television.

From the outside looking in, it seems as if he has everything he wants in life. But you know Jackson. He loves to try new things, doesn't he?

Right now that thing is boxing.


Kelsey McCarson writes about boxing and dead birds. Follow @KelseyMcCarson. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.


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