Former Contender participant Ishe Smith speaks to BoxingScene.com about his recent loss to middleweight prospect Fernando Guerrero. "Sugar Shay" wasn't too happy with the way the referee handled the fight and also feels the judging was questionable. Smith touches on these subjects, moving back down to his natural weight of 154 pounds, and more in this exclusive interview.
BoxingScene.com: First off give us your thoughts on your fight versus Fernando Guerrero.
Ishe Smith: I thought it was a terrific fight. I thought that it was a hell of a fight man. My hat goes off to the young man (Guerrero). He is a class act, a true gentleman. His team are nice people. True men in all respects. I respect all the men in his corner. I am not talking about his promotional outfit. I am just talking about his immediate team. They are class acts across the board. I wish him much success in the future. It was a great fight.
BoxingScene.com: Most people thought the fight was close and could have went either way. What did you think about the scores (96-93 95-93 and 97-91 all for Guerrero)?
Ishe Smith: I thought I did enough to win. I have been getting a lot of messages from people who thought I won. The consensus is that I did enough to win. Most of the messages and mail that I have gotten on Facebook and Twitter is the fans thought I did enough and that I got robbed. I don't think it was a blatant robbery or a highway robbery but I definitely think that I did enough to win. I don't want that to overshadow the fact that it was a terrific fight. I put him down and I closed the show the last three rounds. As a professional that is all you can do. It was a tough, gruelling fight. It was the toughest fight of my life. He fought well. It is a shame that some of the things like the judging is overshadowing it. What I think upset the fans the most is the scoring. One judge gave me one round and this is what hurts boxing. I am not just complaining about it in my fight. We see it every week. 95-93 either way I can accept. A draw I can accept but when you have a judge score the fight 97-91, giving me one round, that judge ought to not be allowed to judge another fight. Then you have a ref like Randy Phillips. He shouldn't be able to ref either.
BoxingScene.com: You lead me to my next question. Give us your thoughts on the ref taking a point away for low blows. You hit him with some low blows but it appeared that Guerrero landed some of his own and wasn't penalized.
Ishe Smith: Oh yeah. If you watch the tape it is true some of my blows were low but Guerrero hit me low a couple times like you mentioned. The thing about it is I have never seen a ref that didn't give us instructions. He didn't come in before the fight and give us our instructions. I have 26 professional fights and I have never had a ref not give us instructions prior to the fight. Every ref refs different. Kenny Bayless refs different than Jay Nady. Jay Nady is different than the next ref and so on. Every ref has different styles. He never came in and set the tone of the fight. He was out there for every fight that was on television. He never established a borderline. If you look at the tape, a lot of my punches were right on his belt line. He never said hey these are high and I am going to let these go and every ref does that. He didn't set the tone. He decided he was going to be more involved in the fight than he should have been. He should have let us fight. He took away from my game plan. There were rounds that after they ended I would go back to my coach (Eddie Mustafa) and say he is messing up my game plan. He would say don't worry about it and get back to working the body. That is when I took the fight back over but for him (the ref) to stop the fight in the middle of the round to address the promoter? When have you seen that happen? When have you seen a ref stop a fight to talk to Bob Arum or Oscar de la Hoya or Don King while they are complaining to the ref. They probably have complained before but you didn't see a ref stop the fight to address it. This guy stopped the fight and addressed Brian Young (promoter) and then a minute later deducted a point from me. I mean c'mon man. Like I said by no means is this Fernando Guerrero's fault. He is a terrific young man. The type of young man that our sport needs. My hat is off to him. I congratulate him but the shenanigans that went on with the ref and the judges is just ridiculous and we see it almost every single week. It is getting bad man and it is just a shame because we really went out there and fought our hearts out. We really laid it on the line for the fans and we gave the fans what they want to see. It is the type of fight that if a rematch would happen a lot of fans would want to see the rematch. It is just a shame that a great fight is overshadowed by issues like these.
BoxingScene.com: A lot of fans felt the same way with the Shawn Porter versus Ray Robinson fight that took place before your fight.
Ishe Smith: Yeah I think it was the same judges and I know it was the same ref in that fight. When do you ever see the same judges and same ref on every televised fight? Brian Young is a small time two cent promoter. He did a terrific job of getting the fight out of New Mexico and putting it somewhere where he was comfortable. All we ask as athletes are to get fair shakes. I don't want an advantage. If I am fighting in Vegas I don't want a hometown decision. If I lose a fight then I want to lose. I don't want them to take a victory away from my opponent because we work hard. We dedicate ourselves and we give 100% to the sport. It is very gruelling with all the sparring, the running and the sit ups. You know if I lose I want the other guy to win because he was the better man that night. I don't want to have questions about my win or advantages given to me. I don't want people telling me that I lost the fight but they gave it to me. I don't want a victory like that. So Brian Young and those guys can look themselves in the mirror and be happy about what they did and the job they did as promoters. More power to them but I know the fans and the real boxing people got to see a terrific fight between two terrific humble individuals who have the utmost respect for each other. They got to see one hell of a fight and they got to judge for themselves who won. That is what is great about boxing on television. You can judge for yourself and like I said the consensus in the messages I received is that they thought I won. I am going to concur. I thought I did enough to win too.
BoxingScene.com: You and I both know a rematch with Guerrero will never happen. We both know they won't put him back in the ring with you after that fight. Do you think you will have a chance to move back down to your natural weight of 154 and get a meaningful fight? The division is loaded with good fighters.
Ishe Smith: I am definitely going to go back down. Me and him (Guerrero) spoke after the fight and he said my hat is off to you. That was a terrific fight. What is your next move? After being in a brawl with him for 10 rounds he asked me that and I was like you know what man, I am going to go back down to 154 and see what is there. I told him I wished him the best at 160. I fought the best in the division. 60 is wide open. I took Danny Jacobs on and I took him to deep waters and he survived. I am very happy with my last two performances in a weight class that really isn't my weight class. I want to go back down. You got the WBO champ (Dzinuzik) from overseas. You have Angulo down there and Bundrage is getting ready to fight Cory Spinks. I think Bundrage is going to win that fight. You have Deandre Latimore. There are a lot of fights that can be made. I would just love to get the opportunity to fight some of those guys. I think I have proven that my style has changed. I have been putting on exciting fights. That is what I am all about now. I want to put on crowd pleasing fights. I think that is was an example of the hard work that Eddie (Mustafa) and I have done in the gym. I have sparred with Floyd (Mayweather), and Chad Dawson and sparred with Zab (Judah). That plus the combination of me getting a lot better. I have gotten a lot better in these last couple of fights.
BoxingScene.com: It is well documented that you have had a lot of trouble getting fights at 154. You mentioned Deandre Latimore. You guys have the same promoter so that fight seems like it could be made fairly easily and is a fight that would seem perfect for Shobox. Both of you guys could use a win over a fighter of each others caliber. The winner between you guys would seem to have a lot of options.
Ishe Smith: I would love to fight Latimore. I think like you said, it is a sellable fight and it is a good fight. We have the same promoter so it seems like a good situation. I will fight anyone. I have fought the best that have been offered to me. This was the third undefeated opponent in I think my last four fights. If you look at my last four opponents and look at their records, you got Pawel Wolack, Joel Julio, Daniel Jacobs and now Fernando Guerrero you will see that I am taking on tough opposition. So many people want to count me out but I think I showed in this last fight that I have so much fight in me and that I can adapt and change my style. I am getting better at 32 years old. I owe that to God. This was probably my best performance. I told a lot of people that. I said that this was my best camp and that I thought this would be my best performance. I went out there and I achieved that. I can go out and hold my head high and look in the mirror and look at my kids and be proud of what I did in the ring. It is unfortunate it didn't go my way but that is just the nature of the beast.
BoxingScene.com: Do you have a message for the fans?
Ishe Smith: My message is to say thank you guys so much. I thank Showtime. Wow that's 5 times I have been on there. I was one of the pioneers of Shobox. I want to thank Showtime and Gordon Hall and all of those guys. I dedicated the fight to Nick Charles. Sorry I couldn't get the win Nick but man I am still praying for you. You are going to beat this cancer. Sorry you couldn't be there but I really hope that you enjoyed the fight and hope that you get well. I just want to thank all the fans for all their support and say thanks for the wonderful camp that I had. I want to thank Eddie and Chad, Zab and Floyd. I gotta say that Zab is really looking good. Thank you guys so much for helping me get ready for one of the toughest fights of my career.
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