By Chris Robinson
On Saturday night, inside of the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan, Las Vegas native Ishe Smith captured the IBF junior middleweight title with a split-decision victory over former champion Cornelius ‘K9’ Bundrage.
After twelve rounds, two 116-111 scorecards favored Smith, with a 114-113 tally going in Bundrage’s direction.
Watching the action unfold from his fighter’s corner, trainer and former light heavyweight titlist Eddie Mustafa Muhammad seemed elated with Smith’s showing.
“I thought he gave a magnificent performance,” Muhammad stated. “He capitalized on that good jab that he has. Putting pressure, backing ‘K9’ up and taking him out of his game. That’s what we did. We beat him to the body.”
The fight was a bit of an odd affair, as both fighters got off to a slow start while failing to build any real momentum. In the second half of the fight, it was all Smith, however, as the 34-year old picked up his work rate and started connecting with some solid right hands.
The fact that Smith’s training camp in Vegas was in perfect harmony seemed to give Muhammad confidence that his charge would be in the fight for the long haul.
“He was in good condition,” Muhammad said of Smith. “I have a team, and we worked hard. Everybody did their job. He put it down and he did what he had to do and we became victorious.
“When we came to Detroit, we didn’t come to fight for a title, we came to win the title,” Muhammad added. “Anybody can fight for a title, but we came to win the title.”
In the post-fight interview with Showtime’s Jim Gray, a reflective Smith began to shed tears, as he was simply overcome with the emotion that came from winning his first world championship after a rollercoaster ride of a career.
Having been with Smith for eight fights, dating back to his August 2008 victory over Pawel Wolak, Muhammad was beyond pleased to see things come full circle for Smith.
“Everything was perfect,” Muhammad stated. “Everything came to a culmination and we won the world title. This is what we do. We win titles.”