By Ryan Burton
BoxingScene.com caught up with former IBF junior middleweight champion Ishe Smith (25-6) shortly after his promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr. announced that Smith would face WBA junior middleweight champion Erislandy Lara (19-1-2) on May 2nd, the eve of Mayweather's pay-per-view showdown against Marcos Maidana in Las Vegas.
Smith said that he had known about the fight for quite some time and also revealed that he had asked to face the often avoided Lara. The native Las Vegan said that after he lost his title to Carlos Molina last September, he could have taken a tune up fight but insisted that he wanted to get right back in a big, meaningful fight.
"I think it is a good fight. It is a fight I asked for. After the setback in September, I took some time off to regroup about what I want to do and I called Leonard and I said, 'go get Lara'. He wanted to know if I wanted to take a couple of fights and build my way back up and I said, 'no, get me Lara'. He said if that is what you want then I am going to make it happen. I am excited, another opportunity to make history, to be a two-time champion. I can't wait," Smith explained.
Lara is a gifted fighter whose only career loss, against Paul Williams in July, 2011, was very controversial and most insiders and fans alike, feel the Cuban did enough to get the win. On the other hand, Lara received a draw in his March, 2011 fight that many believe Carlos Molina should have been awarded the victory.
When I made this comment to Smith, he pointed out that Lara has touched the canvas in his pro career while Smith has never hit the deck (Smith said that Lara was knocked down against Vanes Martirosyan but it is believed that the only time Lara has been knocked down was in his fight against Alfredo Angulo).
"He is a good fighter but like you said a lot of people thought Molina beat him and Angulo had him in serious trouble and dropped him twice. I think Vanes also dropped him one time so he has been down a lot. One thing about me is I have never touched the canvas, I have never been down before and I have fought some of the hardest punchers in boxing. I can't wait to get in there," said Smith.
The 35-year-old Smith has faced many top fighters in both the 160 and 154 pound weight divisions. He also has sparred with many of the top names in the sport and feels that his experience and ring savvy will be what leads him to victory over Lara, who was a highly decorated amateur.
"I have been in there with everybody. I am a vet. I have been in there with every style, even in sparring. I have sparred with Shane Mosley when he was at his peak, Oscar De La Hoya at his peak, (Fernando) Vargas when he was young, so it ain't nothing that I ain't ready for. His speed isn't something that I won't be ready for," Smith told BoxingScene.com.
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