Calling it "the smartest decision I've made in my career," super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell officially declared himself signed with TMT Promotions, the promotional firm to be run by millionaire recording artist 50 Cent and millionaire fighter Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Although the website, Thisis50.com, already had announced the recruitment of Dirrell and former featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa to promotional contracts, Dirrell spoke publicly about the situation for first time during an interview with RingT
The rapper, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, has obtained a license in New York, has has received an application for one in Nevada, according to Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer,
A former Olympic bronze medalist, Dirrell (20-1, 14 knockouts) said that Jackson assumed control of his career "about a month ago" along with Mayweather, a jailed eight-belt, five-division titlewinner who is expected to be released from the Clark County Detention Center on Aug. 3.
Dirrell, who turns 29 in September, said he expects to compete in his first bout in mid-November under TMT Promotions -- which stands for "The Money Team -- and that he plans to end his career fighting under its promotional banner.
DirrelI was unsure when things would go into motion for Gamboa (21-0, 16 KOs), who recently became a promotional free agent following an out-of-court settlement that was reached with his former promoter, Top Rank.
Dirrell said that he initially met with Mayweather and Jackson in early May, the weekend that Mayweather unanimously decisioned Miguel Cotto for the WBC's junior middleweight belt at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Dirrell has been trained by his uncle and grandfather, Leon Lawson Jr. and Leon Lawson Sr., respectively.
You have signed with Floyd Mayweather, 50 Cent and The Money Team Promtions, correct?
When did you do it?
It was sometime last month. Like the end of last month, so it's been about a month now.
How did this come about?
We just had a sit-down out in Las Vegas. The called me out to Las Vegas, and I flew out to Las Vegas and we had a sit-down. Everything went pretty good.
Then I followed up with another visit. And after I sent the contracts to my lawyers, I came back and I told them, "I want to be on The Money Team."
What did you like about what you were told?
Honestly, it's just the leadership. It's the leadership of 50 Cent. But when you sit down with 50 Cent, man, people can say, "well, he's just a rapper."
The may say, "he deals with music, he deals with endorsments, he ain't got no time for boxing." But I looked at like this: He's a total businessman, and a 100-percent wraparound. He's always talking business.
Anytime that I need advice, he's willing to give it to me, man. He's just always on his game. So he's been around Floyd for years, and they've been talking to me. He knows the game, man. When I got to see that side of him, I knew I was in good hands.
What was Mayweather's influence?
Now you've throw in "The Money Man," Floyd Mayweather, now he's a whole different ballgame. He's been in my shoes and he is in my shoes. We were with him during the week of the Cotto fight.
We were in training camp with him. We saw him work hard. He works so hard, that it really gave me motivation to want to get in there and do my thing.
But he had the meeting with me during camp. That surprised me, because I didn't want to do anything to alter his training. But me being there, it was motivation for me.
It showed me what I had to do to get there. So we met and talked during his camp leading up to the fight, and then, a little bit after that, that's when I signed.
What else impressed you?
Well, we were able to sit down with HBO, you know? And that's another thing. Until now, I have never had a chance to ever sit down with a television executive, whether it was ESPN or Showtime.
I never had that experience for any of my fights. But that's the first thing that we did, is that we sat down with [Vice President of Programming and Sports] Kery Davis of HBO.
Who was there at the meeting?
We met with HBO in the Mandalay Hotel, and it was me, 50 Cent and Gamboa and Kery Davis. We all sat down with HBO, and I knew, right then and therre, that that's something that a lot of fighters don't get to do.
They don't get to sit down and have the negotiation with the network, but that's something that they let me in on, and they let me have input into my fight, so I was really, really impressed with that.
I had never, ever met with an HBO exec. Never. No one. This is something that fighters just don't get to do. It's something that probably, honestly, give fighters more insight on what they're capable of doing.
How did that make you feel?
Well, it was like a wake-up to the fighters to let you know how the promoters and the networks get it done. The fighters should be at these meetings. We're doing the fighting, so we should be a part of the negotiations.
They were just letting me do that and allowing me to be in that atmospher and telling me that I can be at each and every meeting. These guys are promising me things that I really didn't know was possible.
I feel like with 50 Cent, man, it's a 'help me, help you' situation. I'm going to take this ball and I'm going to run with it. He wants to go into promotion, and I get to help him start that off.
I never experienced that dealing with other promoters who were showing me the back-end of the deals, whereas Floyd's been in my shoes. They're trying to make me feel comfortable, and it's really, really astounding, man.
What is their gameplan for you?
Well, we're talking about going after all of the big fights, right from the gate, man. They were going after the big dogs. They know that I can take the big dogs.
They're giving me a date, but it's not etched in stone. They said Nov. 17 or Nov. 18, or somethign like that. It's pretty much set as far as the fight and the network.
They're trying to get me right up in there with those big name fighters, like a rematch with Carl Froch, and a rematch with Arthur Abraham, any time, any place.
Abraham and Robert Stieglitz, they're getting ready to fight for the WBO title [on Aug. 25,] and I could fight any one of them. Hopefully, after that, I could get that fight.
Froch or Abraham, they're my two biggest targets right now, but my golden ticket is Andre Ward. I mean, after all is said and done, I can get two or three of these belts and then fight Ward.
Do you feel as though your career has been rejuvenated?
Well, in the seven years that I've been fighting, I've been without a title and I've only fought for the title one time. Now that I'm signed with Floyd Mayweather and 50 Cent, the very first fight they're trying to put me in is a world title fight.
This is what I've been dreaming about for my whole career. This not just for myself, perse, but also for my grandfather, man. Every single belt that I win, you will never see me wrap it around my waist in the ring.
It's going around my grandfather's waist, because this is something that he's dreamed about for his whole life. For his kids to make it out and for his kids to make something of theirselves.
I'm really trying to give him that golden dream as well, so with me being signed with Floyd Mayweather, a guy that I've been looking up to for my whole career, my whole life...
I've got pictures of the guy from when I was a little kid and he was an amateur and he was in the limelight, I've always looked up to the guy. He's my idol. A lot of guys can't fight next to their idols.
I'm fighting for my idol. I get to be in the limelight with Floyd Mayweather and I get to stand next to 50 Cent and they can help me to make the wise, career decisions for me.
It's really something where I hope that we can build a family bond. But as of right now, man, it's the smartest decision I've made in my career so far, and I know that for a fact.
You've got a $400 million man, and a $300 million man, and they want to see another guy make a name for himself, and they're giving me that opportunity.
So, maybe when I get up there in the rankings, me and Andre Ward can have a showdown and then, I can walk the rest of my career out with style, man.
As 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather boost my career, I can boost theirs as well, and we can make a big name for The Money Team Promotions. I'm really blessed and I'm really fortunate to be in this situation right now.