Will SMS Promotions hold on to its Blue Chip boxer?
Last week in a story broken by TMZ Sports, it was revealed that 50 Cent’s boxing promotional company, SMS Promotions, had filed for bankruptcy but was not necessarily going out of business.
On its roster are established fighters such as Yuriorkis Gamboa and James Kirkland – no strangers to tumult and protracted layoffs in their professional careers – and then you have young prospects such as Ryan “Blue Chip” Martin, who are still cutting their teeth in the sport and don’t quite know what to make of this development.
Martin admitted to UCNLive.com, “I was very surprised when I heard the news.” Just 22 years old, he says he is letting the grown-ups handle this. “Yes, definitely, I trust them to see what’s going on and make the right decision.”
Tim VanNewhouse, who manages the 13-0 (8) lightweight, said SMS Promotions’ latest move startled him “because there was never any conversations about that company filing bankruptcy. So that caught us off-guard.”
In talking to other camps who have contracts with SMS, this is a common theme – radio silence from 50.
So just what is the status of Martin with SMS, contractually?
“We don’t know,” admitted VanNewhouse, who is looking into the matter. Whether or not SMS is in breach of contract or if their deal is voided really depends on the type of bankruptcy they will declare. What has frustrated VanNewhouse is that no one from SMS has so much as sent them an email to assuage any of their concerns.
“No one’s reached out, nobody,” said a frustrated VanNewhouse.”Not a text from 50, not a call. Nothing from his secretary.” UCNLive called and emailed SMS to get a statement but did not receive a response. “It bothers me a lot because every single day we’re working, hammering the pavement on Ryan’s behalf and we’re always representing SMS as best we can. That’s the real challenging, difficult part about all this: You can’t pick up the phone and talk to us about it?”
VanNewhouse added on Tuesday, “We’ll give it another couple of days to hear back from him and we’re just going to have the lawyers reach out to them and see where we’re at.”
It’s been a rather bumpy ride for SMS and 50 in the boxing business. The noted rapper made his initial investments into the sport and boxers like Gamboa, Kirkland and Billy Dib believed he would be a partner with Floyd Mayweather Jr. after “Money” served his time in prison back in 2012. Of course, Al Haymon had other ideas, leaving 50 holding the bag with these boxers.
Thus far, SMS has done several smaller shows on platforms like ESPN2 and served up Gamboa and Kirkland as B-sides to the likes of Terence Crawford and Saul Alvarez, respectively. This means Martin – who turned pro in Sept. of 2013 – has had to go and fetch his own fights, at times. His last two outings (April 11 in Puerto Rico and May 9 in Houston, Texas) were on cards promoted by PR Best Boxing and Golden Boy Promotions and their slots were paid for by SMS. Neither were televised in the States.
They really have no inkling of when their next outing will be “because we don’t know anything,” stated VanNewhouse.
Meanwhile, Martin goes about honing his skills in Las Vegas, currently, where he is serving as a sparring partner for Shawn Porter, who faces Adrien Broner on June 20.
“It’s going good; actually, we’re about to spar right now,” Martin said on Tuesday afternoon. “Camp is going really good.”
As for when he’d like to start facing live bullets again, Martin states, “As soon as possible; I’m training very hard. So early July, end of July, anytime in July, I’ll be ready for it.”
While watching Martin, you can see all the natural ability and offensive tools. The tall, athletic right-hander is technically sound and isn’t afraid to let his hands go – although he does need to work on tucking in his chin a bit more. His trainer, Joe Delguyd says of his charge, “When Ryan came to me, he was a very young man, who was an amateur boxer. Today he’s developing rapidly into an explosive professional fighter. The kind of fighter whose power, speed and quick smile will make him a crossover star, who will appeal not only to the hardcore boxing fan but to the mainstream sports fan.”
Martin compiled an impressive amateur mark of 202-22 that saw him win a multitude of titles and represent the United States in various international tournaments. There were various promoters in pursuit of his services as his bid for the 2012 Olympics fell short but Martin and his team eschewed offers from the more established firms to sign with SMS.
”Ryan was really excited about the celebrity status and something new and innovative and 50 was promising a lot of cool things,” explained VanNewhouse, who believes Martin, who was born in Akron, Ohio and grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn. (and now trains in Cleveland) can become the type of draw in Chattanooga that Terence Crawford is in Omaha, Neb.
But that takes a certain investment in time, money and resources.
And those are what VanNewhouse is looking for moving forward.
“I want what I always wanted in the beginning: A promotional powerhouse to focus on building Ryan into a star. We need a consistent promotional platform in addition to staying active. Ryan deserves the best. He’s dedicated his entire life to this sport.”
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