By Jack Price @PriceyJ97.
Ishe Smith (25-5, 11 KO's) made history last night (February 23rd) by becoming the first ever Las Vegas-born fighter to win a world title. He did this by defeating IBF light-middleweight world champ Cornelius 'K9' Bundrage via split decision at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.
It was a tentative start from both men. Neither of the two fighters were able to take the initiative in the opening rounds, leaving it an incredibly hard fight for the judges to score at this point. Thankfully for the judges, and the fans, Smith upped his work rate from the 3rd round onward and brought the fight to his 39-year old opponent. Smith's come-forward pressure fighting took Bundrage by surprise. He was being beaten at his own game. Bundrage chose not to meet fire with fire and instead seemed content to just run away, something we are not used to seeing from the old warrior.
As the fight progressed into the second half Bundrage did start to throw a little more. However, other than a couple of left-hooks and over-hand rights, nothing seemed to be connecting cleanly with Smith's jaw. It was the double-jab-right-hand from the 34-year old Las Vegan that was catching the eye of the judges throughout the fight. A solid combo from Smith at the end of round 9 proved he was not going to slow. But it did also seem to shoot some urgency into Bundrage.
The Detroit-native gave the home fans something to cheer for when he picked up his work rate in the later rounds but the better work was still coming from Smith. The final round was probably Smith's most impressive in the fight as he showed his supreme conditioning and endurance with a dominant final three minutes to secure his victory.
The judges scored the fight as a split decision (116-11 x2 for Smith & 114-113 for Bundrage), but it was a clear and deserving victory for Ishe Smith.
The 34-year old warrior broke down in tears during the post-fight interview as he looked back on the past 13 years of his tough career and discussed the moment he almost committed suicide five years back. We didn't get much info as to what he is going to do next as he was just embracing the moment that he had been looking forward to his whole life. For now we won't worry about what's next for him. He might not have this title for long, but we know he'll cherish every single moment whilst he's got that belt around his waist.