By Jake Donovan
Piece by piece, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson's SMS Promotions continues to crumble. The rapper-turned-failed promoter is attempting to cash in any remaining chips from his boxing venture after filing for corporate bankruptcy, but the fighters he once represented have all lawyered up in efforts to move on with their respective careers.
Yuriorkis Gamboa and James Kirkland - the company's two biggest names - have already sought a release from SMS. Joining the mass defection is unbeaten rising prospect Ryan 'Blue Chip' Martin. Not only has he also taken his case to the courthouse after his team has exhausted all other options, but has a firm deadline in place for his estranged promoter to act upon his current contract.
The terms of Jackson's bankruptcy filing suggested his option to reassign fighter contracts, although Kirkland's co-manager Mike Miller suggested a provision written in his contract prevents such a move.
Martin's case falls under a different category, but his team has taken the proper steps to avoid being dictated for whom he will next fight.
The fighter's case is being handled by well-respected bankruptcy attorney Craig Lifland of Halloran & Sage, LLP, based out of Hartford, Conn. A motion was filed - and accepted by the United States Bankrupcty Court District of Connecticut - for Jackson to either assume or reject Martin's contract by no later than end of business day on October 30, 2015.
Should Jackson fail to adhere to the court order under the specified deadline, Martin's contract will be rejected by default, allowing the Chattanooga-bred, Cleveland-based lightweight to resume his career on his own terms.
The ruling doesn't bode well for Jackson, who under the terms of his business and personal bankruptcy cannot assume any fighter's contract unless so allowed by a court of law. If past action are any indication, the likely scenario is for the entertainer to fade to black with nary a spoken word offered.
Martin signed with SMS Promotions in September '13, one of a handful of fighters who entered with optimism as Jackson became the latest to claim to reinvent the wheel as it comes to promoting the sport. As per the terms of the promotional deal, Martin was to be guaranteed no fewer than 20 fights over a five-year period, either to be promoted or booked by Jackson's company.
To date, Martin's record stands at 13-0 (9KOs). Just three bouts came involving Jackson's promotional involvement, none since his July '14 ESPN2-televised card at Foxwoods Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. Martin fought on the undercard of that show, scoring a four-round decision over Matthew Baca.
The overwhelming balance of the boxer's ring appearances have come as the result of the feverish efforts of his own team, which includes longtime manager Tim VanNewhouse. Still, Martin has been stuck on the sidelines since May, where he was buried on the non-televised undercard of a 12-fight event in Houston topped by Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez' three-round destruction of Kirkland.
All that has followed for Martin was a run of inactivity and an alarming number of unreturned phone calls by his team to Jackson's office, wondering what was going on with his fighter's career.
Concern set in when Jackson filed for corporate bankruptcy in late May, and then for personal bankruptcy over the summer. Martin and his handlers were willing to live with the circumstances, in exchange for an amicable split from SMS.
He's still forced to play the waiting game, but at least now has a deadline in place in knowing that - one way or another - his career will soon be back on track.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.
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