The biggest story from my vacation time was the emergence of rapper 50 Cent as an active participant in the sport.
In the span of about two weeks’ time, “Fiddy” announced the creation of TMT (The Money Team) Promotions, gay-bashed Oscar De la Hoya on Twitter, and picked up a nice stable of world class fighters. To say the least, it was a meteoric rise for the newcomer.
Every “expert” with access to the internet and a few minutes to kill has already chimed in with their take on the new promotional company, so anything I say here could very well touch on some topics mentioned elsewhere, but bear with me. I think this is a bigger deal than many would care to acknowledge.
Anytime and any place a non-boxing person can get into the business, it’s a good thing.
Normally you wouldn’t want novices and rookies with their mitts all over the goods, but boxing is so poorly run, anyway, that even a disastrous reign from an outsider would not be all that much worse than business as usual.
Boxing, right now, is more con and hustle than sporting event. 50 Cent, on the other hand, comes from a world where players get paid and everything boils down to the product. Put Bob Arum in the rap business, using the boxing business model, and we’d get half-assed albums with the perpetual promise of a classic CD just around the corner, “when it really means something to produce a classic.”
Hip-hop fans would revolt and toss Arum to the curb. Boxing fans, however, have to deal with it because there’s nowhere else to go.
If 50 Cent can make things work, we’ll get a fresh-faced power broker with a real business approach to the sport. And you have to believe that a fair-minded promoter who doesn’t conduct his business like a Three-card Monte huckster, will draw in plenty of quality fighters. Pushing the con men out of the sport can only be a positive move.
But there are a lot of details to be worked out and many enemies that will present themselves.
First, TMT Promotions needs a good infrastructure, filled with quality boxing minds who can see the cons coming and keep the company competitive in the face of a hundred-year hustle that has been fine-tuned to an art form. This infrastructure has to be sharp and resistant to the urge to pull their own scams once they have money and power in their own hands. Good luck finding that many honest men and women in boxing.
Then, 50 Cent has to deal with the fact that, given the fighters in his stable, he’s hardly dealing with a pleasant bunch of fun-loving fellows. Andre Dirrell, Yuriorkis Gamboa, Celestino Caballero, Andre Berto, Billy Dib and Zab Judah are definitely a formidable crew in terms of talent, but most have had discipline issues and have proven themselves tough to deal with. It’s possible that past issues have had to do with poor management, but they could also just be character quirks. Whatever the case, none of these fighters have a reputation as team players and a worst case scenario could feature an entire stable of disenfranchised boxers sitting out perceived “unfair” business conditions while the company scrambles to fill dates.
Most importantly, 50 Cent and TMT Promotions are about to find themselves with a huge target on their backs.
Don’t expect some outsider to walk into the sport, throw around cash, hint at reform and not make lots of powerful enemies.
Even Mike Tyson, who knows a thing or two about the dark side of the boxing world, has warned the rapper to watch his back among the “flesh peddlers,” characterizing boxing as “the only business in the world, the only legalized business, where everything is not always on top of the table.”
Rival promoters and all the media they own will be gunning for the upstarts. Efforts will likely be made to squeeze them out of the picture and cut off possible streams of revenue before the company even gets too far off the ground. Ultimately, though, the company will survive if there are smart people at the top and if they have enough money to keep things going through the early stages.
Similar to the treatment manager/adviser Al Haymon receives, TMT will find itself with a target on its back and the old school boxing crew will work to vilify their every move. The media, which is mostly comprised of lackeys and stooges kept solvent by a handful of established boxing people, will be nasty.
Haymon, who had the smarts to scoop up American talent at a time when networks wanted American talent and the acumen to leverage those acquisitions into beneficial deals for his fighters, has been attacked mercilessly by the old guard and those with ties to the old guard. Expect the same, or worse, for 50 Cent. However, Haymon has survived and thrived under the adverse conditions, refusing to air dirty laundry in public and garnering a reputation as someone who works honestly for his clients and deals with them fairly.
TMT Promotions will have to follow a similar path. Stay classy, stay focused, and stay the course.
If they can prove themselves effective as an “above board” promotional outfit, they could very well be creating the blueprint for some true and honest boxing reform by encouraging other outsiders to try their hand.
This is bigger than just a new promotional firm with a high profile CEO and a handful of quality fighters. This is a chance to ditch the rats and swine in favor of something better. But only time will tell if TMT can help bring boxing out of the darkness or if boxing, anchored in muck and mire since its inception, manages to drag TMT down with it.
You can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org or watch as he ponders a move from boxing savior to writer of amateurish erotica. Paul is a full member of the Burger King Kids’ Club, a born iconoclast, and an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church. He’s also a Featured Writer for the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Fox Sports, and has done work for several other fine (and not so fine) boxing websites which may or may not still owe him money.