50 Cent Enters the Ring to Promote Expansion Into Boxing Business

50 Cent and Yuriorkis Gamboa B/W - H 2012
Kyleen James

50 Cent and Yuriorkis Gamboa B/W - H 2012

"It's the toughest sport and it's the only one you can't blame on anyone else," the rapper said.

Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson sparred with a gaggle of reporters Thursday at the Fortune Boxing Gym in Hollywood, as the rap star and entrepreneur promoted his SMS Promotions company’s entering the boxing business.

Standing a few feet from the undefeated former World Featherweight Champion Yuriorkis Gamboa, whom he now promotes, Jackson was dressed in a black SMS Audio hat and "SK" diamond necklace -- repping his headphone company and Street King energy drink, respectively -- explaining his longtime interest in the sport and his desire to bring the most competitive fights possible.

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"It's the toughest sport and it's the only one you can't blame on anyone else," he said. "If Kobe has a bad night, he's got 13 other players to help him out."

Gamboa has been preparing to fight one-time world title challenger Michael Farenas for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) interim super featherweight title as the co-main event to the highly anticipated Dec. 8 Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez showdown. When asked whether he's been training with Gamboa, Jackson replied with a laugh, "You don't see no rings around my eyes, no blood coming out my nose, that should indicate I haven't been doing rounds with Gamboa."

Giving interviews as well, Gamboa spoke through a interpreter of working with Jackson, "It's been really great … I'd like to thank him for lending a hand and letting me have this fight."

Boxing has always been an interest but he's never before had the chance to be around top fighters, Jackson said. When asked about bringing the music and boxing worlds together, he noted Mike Tyson's Tyson Records label in the '90s and Floyd Mayweather's current Philthy Rich Records as examples of boxers trying to do this before. Never, though, has a musician as successful as Jackson gotten so deeply involved with the sport.

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As of late, Jackson has very much played the businessman, seeing success with fairly out-there moves. Recently he made $177,000 in 9 minutes slinging his SMS headphones on the home shopping channel QVC. And Monday night he debuted his new single “My Life” on NBC's The Voice, launching the track to No. 1 on iTunes.

When asked how his various business endeavors affect his music, Jackson told The Hollywood Reporter, "The music business is changing dramatically. Technology is shifting how people consume actual music and in doing that the profits that were traditionally going to the major record companies have changed. The price of a CD that was $19.99 is now $7.99, and the single that was $3.99 is now 99 cents, and in these things changing the ability to extend your brand becomes more and more important. So having the ability to generate interest on different platforms and to work to collaborate with other major corporations spending marketing dollars at the same time as the actual record is coming out is the way of the new music business.”

Jackson noted many artists used to consider it selling out to extend one’s brand outside of music, but he said the artists who resisted to do so have fallen by the wayside -- and are little more than "VH1 specials" at this point.

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"They [are] left behind because they got to get with the times," Jackson said.

He also spoke about the excitement of debuting “My Life” on The Voice and seeing it hit No. 1 on iTunes 12 hours later, citing it as an example of him embracing new ways of doing business.

"I'm willing to do things that allow me to continuously be relevant and work on it in ways that other artists may resist or don't understand yet,” he said.

"Creatively I'll write things that just feel organic to me but that actual song ['My Life'] was a reflection of the confusion that comes at points when you have a long enough career. Because you don't get a second chance at a first impression," Jackson added. "There's a point where they compare you to the first time they've heard or seen you, especially when your album is the largest debuting hip-hop album, you know, so with Get Rich or Die Tryin' I was constantly being compared to it and finally I'm at a spot where I can have an album that can be compared to Get Rich or Die Tryin' in quality. Ironically it's been 10 years, it'll be on the 10-year anniversary that I can offer that album to music culture and the world."

Jackson’s Street King Immortal, his fifth studio album, will be out February 2013. As for SMS Promotions, Jackson said he's going to be signing "fighters who will take the tough fights." He continued, "It's gonna be the top competition out there … I got my reputation on the line."