NSAC grants SMS license, names refs

At its monthly meeting on Thursday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission approved a promoters license for 50 Cent and assigned officials for the fourth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, who meet in a welterweight showdown on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

50 Cent -- Curtis Jackson is the real name of the rap star -- intended to promote under the company name of TMT Promotions -- The Money Team -- with good pal Floyd Mayweather Jr. However, they had a falling out after Mayweather did not come up with the share of the money that Jackson said he had promised to put into the company.

So last month Jackson applied for the license under the name of his new company, SMS Promotions, and his application was approved in a 5-0 vote of the commission, as long as he provides three more pieces of information to the commission, which had already received an extensive application packet.

Jackson and attorney Leon Margules, who were at the meeting, promised to provide the commission with what it still wanted within a week -- two years worth of Jackson's income tax returns, a financial statement listing the fighters SMS has under contract and a letter stating that the assets that had been in TMT's name are now in SMS's name.

During questioning from the commission, Jackson said that he and Mayweather had agreed to go into the promotional business together but "as he came out of incarceration (on Aug. 3 after two months in county jail in Las Vegas) he decided he wanted to do things differently, but I had already invested $1.5 million in acquiring fighters and I would like to move forward."

Jackson said there was no written agreement between him and Mayweather regarding the company.

Jackson, who told the commission that he has spent $500,000 toward the company in addition to the money he spent in acquiring fighters, has former featherweight titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa, featherweight titlist Billy Dib and super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell under contract.

The fact that Jackson's application made it onto the commission's agenda for the meeting meant that it was highly probable that he would be licensed. He is already licensed in New York.

"It was heartening to read all the letters of recommendation in support of your application," commissioner Pat Lundvall told Jackson, who said he was prepared to invest an additional $2 million into the company.

After Jackson was licensed, SMS was approved to co-promote Gamboa's bout with Top Rank on the Pacquiao-Marquez IV undercard. However, Gamboa will face an opponent to be determined because Miguel Beltran Jr. has dropped out.

The commission assigned referee Kenny Bayless to work Pacquiao-Marquez IV. Their previous three fights, all of which were in Las Vegas, ended in controversial decisions: a draw in a 2004 featherweight world title fight, followed by a Pacquiao split decision win in a 2008 junior lightweight title fight and a Pacquiao majority decision win in a welterweight title fight last November. Bayless was also the referee for their 2008 bout.

Assigned as judges were Adelaide Byrd of Las Vegas, Steve Weisfeld of New Jersey and John Keane of Great Britain.

Pacquiao-Marquez III was the most controversial of their bouts with many believing Marquez had clearly won. In May, Pacquiao lost his welterweight title on an even more controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley Jr., putting an even brighter spotlight on the judges selected to work the Dec. 8 bout.

Commission executive director Keith Kizer, who makes recommendations on the officials to the commission to vote on, had a list of 11 potential judges that were considered. The Pacquiao and Marquez camps had the opportunity to voice any concerns but none were made at the meeting, and the panel Kizer recommended was unanimously approved.

This is the first of the Pacquiao-Marquez fights to include a Nevada judge, a judge from somewhere else in the United States and an international judge. Whenever there is a rematch -- in this case a third rematch -- Kizer's practice is to avoid recommending a judge who has worked any of the previous fights. The commission also assigned judges to two other title fights on the Pacquiao-Marquez IV card.

For the fight between lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez and Mercito Gesta, the referee will be Robert Byrd and the judges assigned are Patricia Morse Jarman and C.J. Ross, both of Nevada, and John McKaie of New York.

Russell Mora will referee the fight between Javier Fortuna and Patrick Hyland, who meet for a vacant interim featherweight belt, and the judges will be Duane Ford and Dave Moretti of Nevada and Gary Merritt of Indiana.