by Jamie Pandaram
RAP star 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather plan to take the UFC head-on for the hearts and wallets of the next generation of fight fans, after forming a company that could dramatically shift the power-base in boxing
In a revealing interview, 50 Cent outlined plans to challenge the domination of boxing promoters Golden Boy and Top Rank "immediately", with their new company TMT (The Money Team) Promotions.
Mayweather has been coordinating raids to sign boxing's best stars from jail - he is due to be released August 3 - with 50 Cent negotiating the deals and says he recently signed Australia's IBF featherweight champion Billy Dib to a three-year contract.
"We want to change boxing," said 50 Cent, real name Curtis Jackson, who's amassed a $110m fortune in the music game.
"The goal initially is to create a company by fighters, for the fighters, which breaks the traditional vibe of promoters taking advantage of fighters.
"We're going to change the demographic also, appeal to the younger demographic.
"You look at UFC and MMA, when their festivities start the place is full, whereas the tradition in boxing is you wait until the main event starts.
"We want to put on cards where there are five main event fights, where there is entertainment from start to finish, cards that command attention all over the world."
50 Cent said TMT Promotions would put on their first show in November, most likely in Las Vegas. That show might possibly feature Mayweather's return to the ring.
Many disillusioned boxing fans have simply stopped watching in recent years, tired of mismatches, politics and meaningless alphabet titles, though Mayweather remains the most watched combat athlete on the planet and earns an estimated $40m per fight.
With the undefeated Mayweather's boxing credentials, and 50 Cent's mass appeal beyond the sport, several contracted top fighters are expected to defect from GBP and Top Rank to join TMT.
"I've already had fighters say to me, 'I wish I could join [TMT] but I've got this contract'," 50 Cent said.
"To me, the options are pretty clear. You can deal with a snake in the grass, a snake in the street or you could try something new."
50 Cent has a well-known story of a tough upbringing in New York, going from teenage drug-dealer to the globe's most recognizable rap star and a successful businessman earning $100 million in a deal to market vitamin water.
"I come from a background where not everything is in your favor, but I always anticipate success, I approach things with a positive outlook," said 50 Cent in reference to his latest venture.
Sydney's Dib is the third fighter on TMT's roster, with stars Yuriorkis Gamboa and Andre Dirrell already on the books.
"I really want to associate myself with the best possible talent, and Billy falls into that category," 50 Cent said.
"Floyd asked me to sign him, he has been watching his career and he has always been a big fan.
"When you have talent, it is important to showcase that talent."