By Jackie Kallen
Talk about a tough decision. I have connections to both Bundrage and Smith tonight and I personally like both men. So picking a winner is a lot tougher than usual for me.
Photo: Tom Casino/Showtime
I did the first season of The Contender with Ishe Smith and I grew to really like him. He had a rough time during part of the shooting and on one particular Sunday I decided to go to church with him to de-stress him a bit and get him to relax.
I found a Baptist church in Pasadena (where we were shooting the show) and we went to a morning service. No one really knew who Ishe Smith was at the time, so we were just two more people joining the congregation.
Although I am not a Baptist and have not been to many services like this, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I could tell that Ishe was a deeply spiritual man who feels close to God and puts everything in His hands. That is exactly what he will be doing tonight against Bundrage.
As for Bundrage, K-9 and I are both Detroiters through-and-through. We have Motown blood running through our veins. We come from the same roots, the same streets. So there will always be that bond. On top of that, I have much respect for his wife Shawana, who serves as his manager.
So, I will be sitting ringside trying to remain as neutral as possible. I can see it going either way, for various reasons. Smith is a skilled boxer who–when he is in good shape and on his game–can stick and move with the best of them. K-9 is a rough-and-tough brawler who stopped Cory Spinks twice and also halted Norberto Bravo. He comes to fight.
Smith is not known as a big puncher. Brundrage calls him a “pillow puncher.” But Smith is smart enough to know that there is more than one route to a victory. He has never been stopped in 29 fights and he has no plans of going out that way tonight. He clearly remembers that Bundrage was stopped by both Joel Julio and Sechew Powell. Smith is also aware that K-9 will be 40 years old in April.
Smith has the age advantage and the height advantage. Bundrage has the hometown advantage. Top that off with the undisputable fact that these men clearly do not like each other. Their camps went at it at the final press conference and the fighters themselves almost came to blows at the weigh-in. There is bad blood here.
Regardless of the ultimate outcome, I sense that this will be a good fight. I can see K-9 coming out aggressively from the first bell and if Smith sticks to his game plan, he will box and counter punch. This is one of those fights that can go back and forth while each man racks up the points as the fight enters the later rounds.
The question is whether K-9 will get tired by the 10th or 11th rounds or whether Smith will get caught with a solid punch. Detroit fight fans are excited about this match and I am hoping they will be good sports whichever way it ends.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen