By Chris Robinson
This past weekend I had a lengthy conversation with junior middleweight contender Ishe Smith. It seemed like just yesterday that Smith was getting his first taste of fame from the inaugural season of NBC’s The Contender series, but these days he is having no luck whatsoever landing a big fight.
Smith claims to have called out a myriad of big names from 154 to 160 pounds, including the likes of Alfredo Angulo, James Kirkland, Peter Quillin, and Deandre Latimore, amongst others, but would go on to tell me that he feels certain fighters are avoiding him. Towards the end of our conversation Ishe focused on Latimore and took some digs at the St. Louis fighter.
I had last talked to Deandre on August 13th as we spoke ringside moments after Abner Mares’ victory over Joseph Agbeko at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Now serving as a key sparring partner in Floyd Mayweather’s camp in Las Vegas, Latimore spoke on that opportunity and also said he was willing to face anyone in the 154-pound class when eyeing his own future.
Smith had read Latimore’s comments in our article and was in disbelief, telling me in our own interview that he had called for a fight against the 25-year old recently, only to see him and his manager turn it down.
Wanting to get both sides of the story, I reached out to Latimore to gather his thoughts.
“That’s a lie right there,” said Latimore. “We wanted to fight him and I don’t know if he accepted or not, but Lou didn’t want to put him in there with me. Stop lying and be a man. I mean, who’s ducking?”
Latimore pointed out that this was possibly half a year ago when Smith was still under Lou Dibella’s promotional umbrella. For Latimore, the issue is water under the bridge and he points to his work with Floyd as his main priority.
“I’m not even worried about Ishe Smith,” Latimore continued. “I’m working with Floyd Mayweather Jr. right now. Believe me, Ishe would never amount to what I’m going to be. He would never add up to me.”
Latimore last fought on April 16th, winning an eight-round decision over Dennis Sharpe in Mashantucket, Connecticut, and his work with Mayweather will surely help him for his next ring endeavor. Latimore has been in camp a little over a week and admits he has taken much from his short time around ‘Money’.
“It’s been an experience, I can tell you that. It’s something different. Dude is a beast. He just brings it all. He‘s got the game down pat and he’s the best in the world. He’s a 24-hour workhorse. I’m just going in there to get my work in with him and trying to make him better. I’m just trying to get him ready for this fight.”
Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. An archive of his work can be found here, and he can be reached at Trimond@aol.com