Curtis Jackson is a former boxer, so perhaps the stamina he showed on Thursday shouldn't have been all that surprising. Jackson, the hip hop and rap star whose stage name is 50 Cent, clearly displayed an extraordinary aptitude for his new job as a fight promoter.
Jackson stood in the middle of a sweaty boxing gym in Los Angeles, on his feet for hours, reeling off the same answers to the same questions time after time. His genius is that he has the uncanny ability to make each interviewer feel special, as if he were getting something new, different and better than the rest.
The ability to find new solutions to old problems, as well as his salesmanship, is what has made Jackson one of the most successful under-40 entrepreneurs in the world.
His sales ability and business savvy might just be the variable that finally, after more than three years of agonizing and often bizarre negotiations, brings Mayweather and Pacquiao to meet in what would be the richest boxing match in history.
Pacquiao has business to take care of ahead of a potential Mayweather fight, though. On Saturday, he'll meet Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time in a pay-per-view bout at the MGM Grand Garden. Their first three bouts were exceptionally fast-paced and action packed, but no matter what he did, Pacquiao hasn't been able to conclusively defeat Marquez.
A win Saturday and once again talk will pick back up about if and when Pacquiao will face Mayweather.
Jackson is positioned perfectly to make the fight happen. He's been Mayweather's long-time friend, but as a boxing fan he wants to see his buddy fight Pacquiao as badly as anyone.
He started to make manoeuvres toward getting the fight done more than a year ago. He finally came up with the idea of creating a promotional company with Mayweather that they were going to call TMT Promotions. Working together, Jackson thought, might be the way to get the fight made.
But when Mayweather elected not to invest his half of the money in the star-up, Jackson walked away and created his own company, SMS Promotions.
Jackson signed former featherweight and super featherweight champion Yuriorkis Gamboa to a promotional deal, then quickly worked out arrangements with Top Rank CEO Bob Arum to get Gamboa onto the Saturday card featuring Pacquiao and Marquez.
"This is going to be a huge night for Gamboa, and a bigger night for boxing," Jackson said. "The kid can fight. I mean, he can fight. It's always good for boxing when you have exciting fights and that's what Gamboa's going to give."
Jackson scoffed when it was noted that all three of the fighters he signed – Gamboa, Andre Dirrell and Billy Dib – were poor ticket sellers and attracted few TV viewers.
Jackson promised to turn them into ticket sellers in short order.
If he's able to do it, it will be a feat akin to what he pulled off last month on QVC, the home shopping channel, where in nine minutes he sold $177,000 worth of headphones.
"I just made 177,000 dollars in 9min on QVC," he wrote on Twitter. "Can someone hate on me so I can know this is real life."
The next day he was back on QVC selling those same headphones as if they were bottles of water on a hot day in Las Vegas. He put up with the inane banter from the hosts because he was making extraordinary amounts of money as they yakked about his headphones and grovelled about his stardom.
If he's going to play a role in getting the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight done, he'll have to find a way to make sense of the incomprehensible. Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake and seemingly trivial issues are derailing the bout.
One of the big issues, Jackson said, is that Mayweather is incensed at how much money Pacquiao would make. Mayweather offered Pacquiao a flat $40 million for the fight, which would represent the highest purse of Pacquiao's career.
For a fight this big, even $40 million is a low-ball offer, and anyone with a modicum of business sense knows Pacquiao would have been foolish to accept that deal. But Jackson said Mayweather gets irate that fighters make so much money fighting him.
Mayweather, Jackson believes, wants the majority of the earnings for himself.
"Having to pay that kind of money really irritates Floyd," Jackson said. "He feels that when someone is making more money than they ever made, they shouldn't be asking for more. He feels like he's the star and he should be making the money and they should be thanking him for what he's willing to pay them."
He said Mayweather is "hand-picking opponents" and "looking for a reason not to take the [Pacquiao] fight."
This is a contrast to how Jackson perceives his role as a promoter: to make the fights fans want to see. He lavishes praise upon Top Rank for its way of doing business, and notes that Golden Boy does a good job.
But Jackson says few other promoters invest in their business and aren't willing to put their fighters in situations that could potentially hurt their investment.
"These guys have one fighter, one meal ticket, and you ask them if they want to fight and they aren't willing to take a risk with a guy like Gamboa unless they're at the end of the line and there are no other options," he said. "They want to protect what they have, and make sure their meal ticket keeps producing.
"Me, I look at it like this: We're going to make stars by putting our fighters in exciting fights. People want to see the best fighters fight each other and that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to invest in my fighters and invest in marketing them and promoting them, so we build an audience for them. I'm not going to sit around and let some TV guy tell me who my guy should fight and when and where."
It's smart business. He already looks better than the vast majority of promoters and he hasn't put on a show of his own yet.
If he can iron out the details and get the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight done, that's going to be nearly as impressive a feat as selling $177,000 worth of headphones in nine minutes.
Maybe, just maybe, 50 Cent is the right guy at the right time for boxing.
- Sports & Recreation