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Ishe Smith on Return, Canelo-Mosley, Martinez, Kirkland

By Chris Robinson

The past two years have definitely been a test of junior middleweight contender Ishe Smith’s patience.

In the summer of 2010 I kept tabs on Smith as he trained in Las Vegas for a Showtime-televised fight with then-unbeaten southpaw Fernando Guerrero. Sparring with former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, amongst others, Smith was training with a definite sense of purpose and the hopes were high heading into the fight.
 
Moving up to face Guerrero at 160 pounds, Smith waged a tremendous war inside inside of the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, Mississippi, pushing his younger foe to the limit while also scoring an eighth round knockdown. And while analyst Steve Farhood had Smith winning after ten heats, the panel of judges sitting ringside would award the decision to Guerrero.
 
It was a hard loss to take but the following months would prove to be even more difficult, as Smith simply couldn’t land a meaningful fight at 154 or 160 pounds despite his most ardent efforts. Smith wasn’t shy, calling out everyone from Peter Quillin to Alfredo Angulo and several others in between, yet the reality is that Ishe plays the role of a dangerous fighter who isn’t worth the risk in the eyes of many.
 
Finally, however, things are starting to look up for Smith, who is tentatively penciled in for a May 4th assignment against Ghana’s Ayi Bruce at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Training out of the Mayweather Boxing Cub and getting great sparring with the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr., who Smith is helping get ready for his upcoming bout with Miguel Cotto, as well as J’Leon Love, Badou Jack, and Luis Arias, there is a special kind of feeling surrounding Smith as he savors the chance of getting his career back on track.
 
Crossing paths with Smith on a weekly basis within this particular camp, I have gathered some sound bites from him over the past few weeks, including his thoughts on his return, his history with Floyd Mayweather, and his thoughts on some fighters near his weight class, including James Kirkland, Saul Alvarez, and Sergio Martinez.
 
This is what Smith had to share…
 
Getting help from Floyd Mayweather and Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions…
“I love it. I thank God for the opportunity. I thank Floyd Mayweather for the opportunity. Leonard Ellerbe, they’re just great individuals. They kept their word. They told me they were going to do I something if they could and a few days later they texted me and told me they were going to get me a fight. I’m happy; you don’t see that a lot in this game.”
 
A long, tough road…
“It’s been a long, tough road, because the object of people not wanting to fight me is what sucks. Because I’m almost too good to fight but also too good to lose to. That was frustrating and something I talked to Floyd about and something I talked to Leonard about. They said they were going to get me a fight and here we are six weeks later and I have a fight and I’m really excited.”
 
The game is what it is…

“I never count what’s in another man’s pocket. I think some of these fights hurt the sport more than anything. But I’ll never discredit a boxer for making a living, because this is how he takes care of his family, but at the same time I think the sport needs to put together interesting fights and give the fans something great, rather than give them something bad. The game is what it is. We’ve got to live with the beast. This is what I was blessed with and I’ve got to live with it.”
 
A history with the Mayweather family…
“I’ve been knowing Floyd since I was ten. We came up through the amateurs together. I grew up watching Jeff and Roger out here, training at the Golden Gloves gym. And Floyd used to come out here occasionally and when we were real young we used to spar and it was crazy. He remembers that and we were just talking about it last week. Me and Floyd have always had the utmost respect for each other. I’ve always had the utmost respect for him and I’m happy for his success.”

Not worried about his recent spell of inactivity…
“No, I’ve been boxing for 25 years. It’s just about fine-tuning things and reshaping things and that’s what a good coach does and I have a great coach in Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. He’s good at fine-tuning things and bringing out the best in you. I’ve been in the gym, I’m a gym rat. I’ve been sparring Badou Jack, I’ve been sparring J’Leon Love, I’ve been sparring those guys. I haven’t just been completely off. I’ve been getting good work. Now, Floyd Mayweather, whenever you’re sparring guys like that you just got to take advantage of your opportunity. I’m just hopeful to fight on May 4th and get a chance and hopefully, before I step away from this game, I’ll be able to say I had a title shot or won a title. And that’s everybody’s ultimate dream, is to win a championship.”

In camp at the Mayweather Boxing Club…
“It’s a great thing to be a part of. Floyd is the hardest working man in boxing business and show business. I’ve been in camp with De La Hoya, ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley, Vernon Forrest, I’ve been in camp with a lot of fighters and Floyd, by far, is the hardest training athlete that I’ve ever seen in my life, as far as boxing-wise. He definitely puts the time in at the gym, three or four hours a day. And that’s amazing.”

Getting in peak shape…
“It’s been good. Just get trying to get the rust off. The main thing is, just fighting myself to get back in shape. That’s the main thing, getting in the peak shape that I want to be in. But I feel like it’s coming, it’s getting there. I’ve been sparring J’Leon Love as well and Luis [Arias] and they’re great work. I sparred Luis when I fought Guerrero and he gave me great work. I’m just getting in shape, that’s the major thing, making sure I can go the rounds.”

Not high on James Kirkland…
“I’ve always said that about James Kirkland. I’ve always said he’s a basic fighter. People always looked at me like I was hating on him. No, he’s a tough kid, big heart, nice power, and that’s pretty much it. There’s no special effects to him at all. I was actually disappointed the way the fight ended. I thought Molina definitely had a good game plan going and I’m still not high on Kirkland. He may get an opportunity to be a world champion just because of the way his handlers match him and stuff like that, but I feel if he fought Molina again it would be the same outcome. Molina would just be beating him to the punch. Molina had a great game plan working and it’s unfortunate that it ended like that. Molina, he’s not a big puncher and if he was a big puncher he probably would have knocked James Kirkland out. He was getting hit with everything.”

Unfinished business in the junior middleweight class…
“I would like to go back to 154. I feel like we had unfinished business there. There’s some good fighters there, I would like to go back there. 160, I just got opportunities there I wasn’t getting at 154. I went up and showed the fans and the people of boxing that I can fight at 160 as well. I was able to do that. I was able to give Danny Jacobs all he could handle. And many people thought I beat Fernando Guerrero. 160 was just something I was experimenting with and if something big came up at 160, I would do it again.”

Thoughts on WBC junior middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and his May 5th bout with Shane Mosley…
“I think he’s another guy that’s being groomed, sort of taking it slow. He hasn’t really had no defining fights to me. No fights that make him jump out. Cintron, that’s my boy, but he had lost to Molina, it wasn’t like the same Cintron. I don’t think this is going to prove much either, because Shane is on the downside as well. You don’t know what you’re going to get with Shane. I think the Shane that fought Margarito, if this fight was made, would be different. But Shane, the way he looked against Floyd and against Manny, I just don’t know what he has left.”

Reflecting back on his camp with Shane Mosley…
“When he fought De La Hoya the second time. It was good. I definitely learned a lot. I didn’t have as many fights as I have now but I definitely learned a lot and it was great work. Real good work and that Shane would beat Alvarez. I think Alvarez is a good fighter, but I personally haven’t been overly-impressed with him yet because he hasn’t really fought anybody to make me say ‘This kid’s got the goods’.”

Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez’s predicament…
“I think Sergio Martinez is a good champion, he’s a good fighter. I just think the overseas extravaganza has got to stop with the middleweights. People are tired of seeing that. I know he wants a big fight, I know he wants Manny Pacquiao, I know he wants Floyd Mayweather; he wants big fights but they’re not going to happen because he’s just too big. I don’t think nobody’s going to fight him at 154. Floyd may fight him; I don’t think Manny’s going to fight him. Hopefully he gets Chavez. But still, that’s not going to define his career. He needs a big name and he’s in a situation where, that division, just don’t have no big names right now.”

Exclusive Camp Coverage from photojournalist Chris Robinson - Click the links for exclusive photos

Inside Camp Bradley - Bradley razor-sharp in sparring - The champion is coming into his own and on-point in sparring / An all-access look at Camp Bradley - Inside Bradley's training as he prepares for Manny Pacquiao
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User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by jtiger777 on 04-30-2012

great interview good luck ishe

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (1)
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