It’s been a quiet first half of the year for Curits “50 Cent” Jackson and SMS Promotions. That will change on Saturday when Yuriorkis Gamboa, the jewel of Jackson’s promotional crown, meets WBO lightweight titleholder Terence Crawford live on HBO.
That Top Rank co-promotion is quickly followed by a special Wednesday, July 2, edition of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights headlined by an IBF junior lightweight title eliminator between Mark Davis and Michael Farenas.
“I’m excited about it, it’s a great matchup,” Jackson, the owner of SMS Promotions, told RingTV.com when asked about Crawford-Gamboa. “It’s what I want to be associated with in the sport of boxing. It is real competition.”
Currently SMS Promotions has 11 fighters under contract. Jackson intends to expand that roster soon.
“Between now and the end of the year the changes that are going on in the sport of boxing allows me to feel it’s the perfect time for growth,” he said.
Aside from boxing, Jackson has been extremely busy with several other projects including the release of his new album “Animal Ambition.” He is also the executive producer of the critically acclaimed drama series Power, which started a second season on the Starz cable network in earlier this month.
Here’s what 50 Cent had to say about SMS Promotions, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his life in general:
Anson Wainwright – On June 28, you’ll be in Omaha, Neb. with Gamboa for his WBO lightweight title fight. What are your thoughts on that bout?
Curtis Jackson – I think it’s gonna be a good fight. For the first time they’re both matched with someone with the same record. I don’t think they have the same experience, Gamboa has four gold medals because of his larger amateur career. [Editor’s note: Gamboa won gold medals at the 2003 Pan-American Games and the 2004 Olympic Games. RingTV.com is not aware of any other major international tournaments won by the Cuban standout. Jackson could be referring to Gamboa’s four Cuba national amateur titles.]
Both being 23-0 with 16 knockouts is significant. In the sport of boxing, they all have a punchers chance when they reach that calibre of talent. I’m excited about it. It’s a great match up. It’s what I want to be associated with in the sport of boxing. It is real competition. Gamboa had the chance to take this fight eight months ago but Terence wasn’t as proven (then) as he is now. A lot of times they’ve been well matched. It’s like they’re doing a dance until something happens that people didn’t expect to happen.
AW – A couple of days later you are doing your own show at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., which will feature Michael Farenas and Mark Davis in a junior lightweight title eliminator, plus the return of Billy Dib and several of your prospects. Tell us about that show.
CJ – That one is interesting, too. Mike Farenas is the first person Gamboa fought after his hiatus from not taking the Brandon Rios fight. He actually knocked Gamboa down in that fight. Mike Farenas can actually punch and Mark Davis is a really talented boxer. His last fight he fought 10 rounds, towards the end of it he was hit a little more than I was comfortable with but he did well. He came out on top and I expect him to put on a show, too.
For Mark Davis, conditioning to perform the entire show at the same pace (is important). He hasn’t has had a lot of 10-round bouts so he has to dig in and show everyone what he has. I believe he can win, it’s about how well he conditions himself for it, Mike Farenas is gonna show up come July 2, he’s not gonna not come prepared.
Billy’s last (fight), he lost his rematch to (Evgeny) Gradovich for the IBF title. We’ll see how he looks. Outside of that you have Ryan Martin, an exciting prospect, he won in early June, he’ll be back; you have a few other guys we’ve had on the roster who we’ve been waiting to unveil. We keep ‘em active on different shows.
AW – What other fighters are under your SMS Promotions banner?
CJ – Louis Olivares, Donte Strayhorn; I have 11 fighters under SMS.
My gym is probably the best gym in Las Vegas right now, to be honest with you. Everything is state of the art.
As far as development we’ve got to create that environment that’s tough for all of them. I’ve got fighters like Ryan Martin, he’s actually sparring with Gamboa, preparing with him, he’s got six pro fights but he went in as a sparring partner. It’s allowing them the experience of working with the top fighters in their weight class.
AW – Are you looking to add talent to your roster?
CJ – Absolutely. Between now and the end of the year the changes that are going on in the sport of boxing allows me to feel it’s the perfect time for growth.
AW – Will you be more active as a boxing promoter?
CJ – Following July I’ll be able to do a few things, I’ll be able to set up shows and we’ll be moving a lot faster. We’ve been keeping the fighters active on other cards, so we didn’t have the responsibility of the entire show.
To be honest I could make the show without being present and have everyone else do it. Bob (Arum) is not making the show, his staff is; and (Richard) Schaefer (wasn’t) doing it either, his staff was. But I wanted to wait until (I was free to be a part of the promotions), putting everybody back in action on these shows. (We will) at least five more shows before the years up.
AW – You have the huge name and the ability to really become a big player in boxing and rival the other big promoters. Is that your plan or is it a hobby?
CJ – I enjoy it, personally. I’m not sure I should call it a hobby but I’m actually actively involved. People see me multitasking being involved in different platforms, whether it’s television shows – I just had one premiere on June 7 of “Power” on the Starz network – my album just came out on the 3rd “Animal Ambition,” so I have been busy doing those things but at the same time it’s time for me to get this rolling again with the new excitement and energy connected to my actual brand based on those projects I released.
AW – If we go back to your youth, much like many boxers, you know about hardships. Could you share some of those with us?
CJ – I grew up in south side of Jamaica, Queens. My mom got killed when I was 8-years old so I lived with my grandparents, because they had nine children. My mom was the only one of my grandmother’s nine children to pass away so I came into their house as the new number nine. To be honest with you, we functioned on my grandfather’s income so you get things when someone’s done with things, like hand-me-downs. It’s because of the lack of finances around.
I stumbled and fell into the instant gratification with things that were there in the environment, so I started hustling. From there I found music. My passion for music allowed me to actually do everything you see me do now. It provided me the opportunity and ability to accumulate the finances that allowed me to become someone that can make the investment, alongside the popularity that would make major corporations feel like I’m the person to market their product.
AW – Once you became known and a celebrity, life would have changed dramatically. How did you find that coming from where you had?
CJ – Oh yeah. I exceeded expectations of everyone around me and myself. My ambition allowed me to continue to work toward accomplishing bigger and better things. I think ambition is a learned behaviour, I think it’s an instinct, I think it’s in some people and others don’t have it. As I acquire new information, I make better information in areas I never actually been involved or been interested in the past. It’s exciting.
For me it’s just my journey. Again, like you said, it’s so far from where I started that it’s tough to convince me that I can’t do things that I get into. My role in boxing, me as a promoter, started as a way of me trying to help my friend Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather is the reason why I’m in the sport of boxing. I was trying to help him turn Mayweather Promotions into an actual company.
AW – What happened that you didn’t like that made you think ‘I’m going to do SMS Promotions and go it alone’?
CJ – Floyd started to express that he didn’t actually want to continue as a partner in the sport of boxing. I told him it’s fine. I’d sign the fighters over and to be honest with you, he didn’t want to pay for the fighters, he wanted to try to take ‘em. It changed how I perceived him because it was unnecessary for him to behave that way. I do love and view him like a little brother. He’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. You won’t believe the things he’s doing. It’s like a 14-year old kid trying to trick you. (Floyd is like) “send the papers to my lawyer.” He’s got me sending the contracts and agreements to Al Haymon’s lawyer. Trying to figure out how he can take the fighters instead of paying money for the fighters that we’d agreed to. Now I could have gone the other way and obviously sued him for the actual money (he owed), it was obviously a partnership. If I committed to being part of a company and you spent money on me saying you’d give me half the actual money on each of the fighters and later you decided you didn’t, you’d still be obligated to do that in a court of law, but I wouldn’t take my brother to court. I just continue to do what I actually do and be productive away from that. When I don’t see him do anything away from the sport of boxing to create some sort of financial support it’s a flag and a clear indication that when he’s no longer able to fight, it’s over.
AW – You don't think Floyd will use Mayweather Promotions when he’s retired? It’s just a tool for him now that he’s still active?
CJ – Right. So you know when you don’t see any income come from anywhere except the sport of boxing, it tells you when he’s not fighting there’s gonna be no money. I watched the cycle go from having huge amounts of money to not having any money every three fights.
AW – So despite all the money he makes in boxing, Floyd is struggling for money every few fights because of how much he spends on his lifestyle?
CJ – Well it happens because when your bills are paid, the IRS doesn’t necessarily come to you and take the actual tax money. So if they give you $30 million, you splurge, you spend $30 million, they give you $40 million, you splurge, you spend $40 million, the next time you get paid they need the tax money on $70 million, plus the money you made tonight.
AW – How to go from very wealthy to broke very quickly.
CJ – Yeah. I mean I don’t want people to misinterpret what I’m actually saying. I love Floyd like a brother and I want him to get himself together because if he doesn’t, that nightmare he’s afraid of is gonna come true.
AW – “The nightmare,” i.e. going back to having nothing?
CJ – It’s worse. The worst thing you ever do is feel what it’s like to have it then not have it. He doesn’t have that thing Mike Tyson has. Mike Tyson convinced the world that there was no man who could actually beat him. For a period of time no one would give you an argument if you said nobody could beat Mike Tyson. The maneuvering, the dipping and dodging of certain talent, makes the public feel as though it’s been well orchestrated, well match made in Floyd’s case. It doesn’t feel the same, people love Mike Tyson because they were afraid of him. Now when he says something and its funny you laugh. He’s always had that sense of humour but they didn’t see it because the only time they saw him was when he was going to war.
AW – Do you feel Floyd has his strings pulled by Al Haymon?
CJ – Absolutely, of course. That’s what happens. You need to get 50 Cent away from Floyd Mayweather because I’m gonna help him see things he can’t see.
AW – What things would you say they are?
CJ – That’s why, as far as the deals are concerned, there’s s__t that will fly by Floyd that won’t fly with me.
AW – Are the two of you on good terms now if you bumped into each other?
CJ – Yeah, we’re on good terms. If we saw each other (we’d say) “what’s up,” whatever. There’s no difference between him having an argument with his father, or something with his mother, him saying “I’m not gonna see Jeannie cause she gets s__t stirred up” or not talking to any of the other relatives that he goes through periodically. It’s like this is nothing new. This is just Floyd. It’s his temperament.
AW – Recently Richard Schaefer left Golden Boy Promotions. Floyd said he’d no longer deal with Golden Boy. With Richard leaving, Oscar De La Hoya has suggested he’d like to co-promote with Top Rank. This opens everything up. You’ve been around both companies what are your thoughts on the implications this will have on boxing?
CJ – I think it’ll be very positive for the sport. As far as Richard Schaefer is concerned, it just depends on where he’s going. He’s not leaving the sport of boxing now.
AW – Maybe Richard will work with Al Haymon.
CJ – Them two together, that’s the whole crew, the whole army. Schaefer and Haymon together, that’s an army. They don’t need anything else.
AW – Would you be interested in Richard Schaefer’s services as CEO of SMS Promotions?
CJ – I’d do that immediately. I don’t think anyone is better than him.
AW – Would that not cause a possible problem with dealing with Top Rank?
CJ – No, I don’t believe it would. You make adjustment as you go. I’ve watched Richard Schaefer and what he’s done for Golden Boy and building them to what they are, so I know what his capabilities are.
AW – The public know you as 50 Cent the rapper who is now involved in boxing. What does Curtis Jackson do with his time away from both?
CJ – I like to be physical, I train a lot. I go to television more for relaxation. I usually enjoy music in-transit everywhere I’m going. It takes my mind off the work. On a regular day it would some sort of film or television that be a part of my relaxation. It’s what makes me so excited to be a part of film projects now. I’ve worked to a point I have a comfort with it, with the film portion of my actual career. Now I can do something’s that really impress people and are exciting, so moving forward they should look at me like a work in progress and understand I’ll clearly be a lot better in the future.
AW – You’re involved in a movie on Johnny Tapia?
CJ – Johnny’s actual life, it was really interesting that he would tape himself right before he passed away. It takes you through his whole journey, the documentary was really, really well done. When I got chance to see it I was like this is exciting and I want to participate and help it get to where it needs to be and I did. You’ll get chance to see it soon. The project has been picked up. Tapia experienced losing his mom also and it was a traumatising situation for him. (He said) every time he got hit it took away the pain, it took away the pain he was feeling from the loss of his mom. I got chance to meet his wife, he makes reference to her repeatedly throughout the actual project. It’s interesting for a person to capture their entire journey before they pass and to sit there and reflect. Mike Tyson had a relationship with him. They knew each other when they were young. Mike was actually in the documentary. I’m the executive producer on it.
AW – In closing do you have a message for the boxing world?
CJ – Excitement is coming from me personally. Crawford- Gamboa is the start. When they’re evenly matched, the best man will win. I’m not dipping and dodging and I don’t want fighters I’ve got to dip and dodge with. I want guys who want to fight the best talent and achieve being the best fighter out there.