50 Cent's rapping is small price to pay if he brings bling to the fight game (just pass me the earplugs please!)
00:21 GMT, 11 December 2012
The future is loud. The future is garish. The future is bling.
So says the rapper who calls himself 50 Cent and is now investing considerably more than that in boxing.
Mr Half Dollar is offering to give the hard game of blood, sweat, pain, courage and not a few tears a glamorous makeover which he believes will attract a new generation of fans.
Is it a bird Is it a plane No it's 50 Cent! The rap superstar in the ring before the fight on Saturday
This involves theatrical ring entrances like the one he made prior to his fighter Yuriorkis Gamboa’s arrival on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard here in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Rapping away, 50 Cent was lowered on pulleys from the ceiling of the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
He was accompanied by pounding music, blinding light shows and strings of celebrities being paraded through the arenas to their ringside seats, defeated US presidential candidate Mitt Romney among them.
Gnarled old boxing followers are no longer enough, it seems. Not even when they bring their scantily clad molls with them to sex up the evening’s sport.
It is on condition that he can wrap boxing promotions in the trappings of rock concerts and movie premieres that 50 Cent is gambling some of his hard-rapped millions on the fight business.
Acrimonious ending: 50 Cent was originally involved in a deal with Floyd Mayweather jnr
The American boxing establishment are letting him come along for the ride, to see whether he can claw back some of the audience which is gravitating to the UFC.
That summit of mixed martial arts already packages its events in a similar youth culture.
While piggy-backing on Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum’s 81st birthday show at the MGM Grand, 50 Cent turned boxing’s attention to people a fifth of that age: ‘The audience demographic for boxing is 30 and up. The UFC’s key support is aged between 15 and 34. To tap into that future we need spectacular promotions.’
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To emphasise his commitment, he added: ‘I’ve always loved going to the fights but now that I’m involved its going to be expensive for me and I’m determined to make it work by expanding the fan base.’
When first granted a license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission 50 Cent went into a partnership with the Money Man himself, Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
That ended in acrimony almost as soon
as it started and he has crossed the Rubicon of the ring to join forces
with Manny Pacquiao’s advisors with an eye to future deals with younger
Arum invited him to participate on Saturday, saying; ‘I’m always open to new ideas from young people so let’s see if it’s time to freshen up the way we do things and open up a new market.’
The timing was peculiar, since Arum has just realised the biggest-money live gate ever for boxing in Vegas – $10.5million from a 16,000-plus sell-out – a figure which is providing Pacquiao with a minimum purse of $26m and Juan Manuel Marquez with $6m to take home to Mexico.
Not only that but with Pacquiao
pledged to fight on despite his shock one-punch KO, Arum not only
envisages an equally profitable fifth fight against the body-building
Marquez but still anticipates his PacMan meeting Mayweather in a $200m
It is tempting to offer a reminder of one of the oldest maxims in big business: ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’
But traditional prize-fighting in the US has become somewhat paranoid about the UFC with all its razzmatazz, even though the highest ratings for pay-per-view TV audience here have all been set by boxing.
Despite its fan profile, mixed
martial arts has not competed yet with the pulling power down recent
years of Tyson, Holyfield, Lewis, De La Hoya, Mayweather and Pacquiao.
New alliance: The rapper has now joined forces with Manny Pacquiao (left) over future promotions
Nor, when it comes to big nights like Saturday, does boxing have any problem pulling in the Hollywood set.
It is the smaller shows which struggle to make financial ends meet but those promotions do not appear to be on the radar of 50 Cent and his associates.
And in all honesty not even the most high-profile of celebrity promoters would be able to persuade the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Taylor Swift, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson and the Twilight stars to turn up at non-title fights in small halls.
So the experiment with the sound-bite generation will have to be conducted in the glare of major events, which are already heavily hyped in showbusiness style.
Still, if 50 Cent can give the game a boost then the wearing of ear-plugs by the rest of us will be a small price to pay.
Big year ahead: Amir Khan is still just one big win away from title contention despite recent defeats
Khan must stay part of Brit pack for big year
Amir Khan sets about reviving his career in Los Angeles on Saturday but if he needs any further incentive to secure an impressive victory over the undefeated Carlos Molina it comes with all the announcements of big world title battles and final eliminators for his fellow British boxers early next year.
Kell Brook, Khan’s verbal adversary, gets his big chance against world welterweight champion Devon Alexander in Los Angeles in January.
Martin Murray travels to Buenos Aires in April to challenge middleweight king Sergio Martinez, a daunting prospect made even tougher in the Argentine’s home city but a thrilling one for all that.
Ricky Burns is being lined up to defend his world lightweight title against the fast-rising Adrien Broner in the US in February.
Nathan Cleverly has been pencilled in for the retirement fight of Bernard Hopkins, which will be a star-studded mega-night in New York in March.
A week later in the same city, Tyson Fury is being lined up for a final eliminator for a world heavyweight title shot – either against Vitali Klitschko or for the vacant championship if the elder of the big brothers of the game decides to retire into Ukrainian politics full-time.
Khan will not want to be left out and he knows that even after two defeats, a convincing win over Molina will propel him back into world title contention in 2013, which promises to be the year of living dangerously for British boxing… but excitingly.
Price is still right for Fury
Frank Maloney has called for a truce in the war of words with Mick Hennessy as these rival promoters steer David Price and Tyson Fury, respectively, towards world heavyweight title challenges.
Maloney admits the exchange of insults is unproductive. So while he is still asking Fury to meet Price, he accepts that the travelling man is likely to find a shot at a Klitschko preferable early next year.
If Hennessy can confirm the obvious about Fury’s priority they can go their separate ways for the moment without further rancour… while keeping alive the prospect of a huge British fight between the pair a year or so hence.
Come on gentlemen, you know it makes sense.