Ishe Smith: “It’s About The Work You Put In”
By: Sean Crose
“I started when I was eight,” Ishe Smith says. “Kinda just getting bullied at school…my mom’s friend was into boxing.” So began what eventually morphed into quite the notable career for the first Las Vegas native to ever win a major title. “It’s a part of who I am” the 39 year old former champ states. Still, with a world title win on his resume and 29 victories to his credit, the affable Smith is growing wary of the Vegas way of doing things.
Photo From Ishe Smith Media Workout with Bounce TV
“I can’t get a fair shake,” he says. “It’s just the judging, man.” Smith, who boasts a 29-9 record, makes it clear that he’s not a diva. “I’m a throwback fighter,” he claims. “I’m old school. I don’t care to take a loss.” What Smith does care about, however, is taking a loss he himself deems unfair. “If I offend the commission, I’m penalized for it,” he says, “(but) there’s no suspension for when a judge turns in a bad scorecard.”
One need only look at last year’s bout against Julian Williams to understand where Smith is coming from here. Smith may have lost by unanimous decision, but as Boxing Insider’s B.A. Cass put it: “The scores were too lopsided to be taken seriously.” Cass certainly wasn’t alone in his assertion of Vegas judging that night. “Nobody won that fight 9-1,” says Smith, referring to one of the score cards. “It’s disappointing.”
Those who take these words as evidence that Smith is bitter after a long career are sadly mistaken. A thoughtful, positive individual, Smith serves as living proof that an objective attitude and clean living can lead to longevity in the world’s most grueling sport. “It’s about the work you put in,” he claims, “and I plan on living.” Whereas some fighters fall victim to partying and unhealthy lifestyles, Smith goes the opposite route. “I don’t do those kinds of things,” he says. “I don’t drink. I never do drugs.”
Smith is also into personal growth…and just plain acting one’s age. “When I was young, I was a lot more brash,” says the fighter. “As you get older, you get wiser…I tried to mend relationships that may have been broken.” The more mature Smith now believes in the benefit of trying “to build a relationship and take down a wall.” This, after all, is a man whose personal motto is Muhammad Ali’s famous statement that: “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.”
Not that long ago, the younger Smith made a name for himself by besting Randall Bailey and by appearing in the first season of The Contender. “We didn’t understand it then,” he says of himself and his fellow cast mates, regarding the exposure the show provided. Referring to iconic hosts Ray Leonard and Sylvester Stallone, Smith claims “They were on set every day.”
“It was a good platform,” he says. “People still recognize me from the show.” Television aside, Smith’s career got a serious boost when he became a member of Floyd Mayweather’s famed Mayweather Promotions in 2012. It was as a Mayweather Promotions fighter that Smith stepped into the ring as on the night of February 23’d 2013.
The IBF light middleweight championship of the world was at stake, a championship defended by hometown fighter Cornelius Burndradge. Undeterred by the moment and location, Smith went on to win a majority decision. The first Las Vegas fighter to ever win a major title did so by defeating the first Detroit fighter to win a major belt since Thomas Hearns.
“It was the greatest feeling in the world other than seeing my kids being born,” Smith says. “I had trained so hard for these ups and downs.” And being the first true Vegas champ? “That was key to me,” he adds. Smith ended up losing his belt to Carlos Molina, then lost a chance to attain the WBA world super welterweight title when he was outpointed by the masterful Erislandy Lara in 2014.
Yet Smith’s still a major part of the Mayweather stable. He’ll be facing another Detroit fighter, Tony Harrison (26-2) on May 11th. While admitting that Harrison is no slouch, Smith is now at the point in his career where his perspective turns inwards when it comes to a particular fight. “I’m at the age now,” he says, “where I don’t focus on opponents. I just think about myself.” The fighter has clearly learned not to sweat the small stuff. “I’m a veteran,” he claims. “You don’t worry about what you’re making tomorrow when you got dinner tonight.” Being a part of the Mayweather team must offer some peace of mind, as well.
“It’s a good gym,” Smith says of the Mayweather Gym in Vegas. “It’s where most of us train at.” Smith not only admires the gym, he admires those who occupy and operate it. “It’s run by great people,” he claims. “It’s an old school gym, only cleaner.” So, does he frequently see Floyd, the man he’s sparred regularly with and known since childhood? “He’s a very busy man now,” Smith says, “so it’s a lot different (than it used to be). He’s very busy and I’m still fighting…I don’t see him as much as when he fought.”
And so here Ishe Smith is, a working man in a sporting world seemingly ruled by the loudest people in every room. He’s a vet, he’s 39, and yet he’s still a force. It’s obvious when speaking to this religious, charitable individual, however, that there are things in his life even more important to him than boxing. A father of six, Smith speaks of his children with pleasure. “They’re all healthy,” he says. “I love being a dad.”
I ask Smith about his toughest opponent. It doesn’t take him long to answer. “The toughest guy I ever fought was Randall Bailey,” he states. “It was a growing up lesson…I had to grow up very fast that fight.” Sometimes, it seems, you just have to jump into the deep end.
“I don’t know what the hell I was thinking,” he laughs.
Deontay Wilder International Media Conference Call Postponed
The international media conference call for undefeated heavyweight world champion Deontay Wilder has been postponed and will not take place today at 2:30 p.m. ET.
A new date for a media call with the heavyweight champion will be announced in the coming days. We apologize for any inconvenience.
In the meantime, see below for a statement from Deontay Wilder:
“First of all, I want to congratulate Anthony Joshua on his win last Saturday night. Anthony, I am so glad we finally heard from you on Saturday and that you want to fight me as your next opponent and you want the fight to happen in the UK.
“I accept that challenge and I am ready to come to the UK for my next fight. There is nothing on Team Wilder’s side to prevent me from fighting you next.
“You also said on Saturday that your team is ready to meet with Shelly Finkel and Al Haymon from my side to get this deal done. They are also ready to meet with your team immediately. Let us know when – the sooner the better.
“Thanks Anthony, I can’t wait to meet you in the ring.”
Daniel Jacobs: “At The End Of The Day It’s About What You Do Inside The Ring.”
By: Sean Crose
Top middleweight Daniel Jacobs may be taking his November 11th opponent, Luis Arias, seriously as a foe. What Jacobs is not doing, however, is taking Arias seriously as a talker. “It is kind of hard to listen to him because he is trying to force you guys into believing something that does not exist or really is not there,” Jacobs said of Arias on a recent conference call. Still, Jacobs claimed he wasn’t shocked by Arias’ words, as Arias was once part of Floyd Mayweather’s stable of fighters.
Photo Credit Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing
“You have to realize that this guy is a former TMT (The Money Team) guy,” said Jacobs. “He is used to the brash talk.” There’s little doubt that the 18-0 Arias is at least talking a good game in the lead up for a bout most expect him to lose. “I’m going to rough him up,” he told me. “I’m going to be in his face all night.” Some might argue that’s not the best strategy to employ against a man with an over eighty percent knockout ratio, but Arias appears confident as his showdown with Jacobs at New York’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum approaches.
“I do think he’s over-rated,” he said, referring to Jacobs. “If you go and look at his record,” Arias went on to add, “there is nobody there that he beat.” British promoter Eddie Hearn, who has recently teamed up with Jacobs, wasn’t willing to sell Milwaukee’s Arias short. “Maybe I’m a little bit different,” Hearn claimed. “Maybe I’m too much of a fan – it the upset comes, the upset comes.” Not that there was any questions where the man’s loyalty could be found. “Of course Danny Jacobs is our guy,” he said, “and I want him to win but if Luis Arias goes out there and gets the victory – good on him.”
I asked Hearn if Jacob’s impressive performance against Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden last winter had anything to do with his interest in the Brooklyn native. “Many felt that he won,” Hearn said of that fight. “You know that he’s on that level.” The promoter made it clear, though, that he was well aware of the cold, hard facts of the matter. “He (Jacobs) didn’t win (the Golovkin fight),” he stated, “and that’s the reality of it.”
Jacobs also came across as a practical man on the call. After admitting he’d like to knock Arias out, Jabobs went on to say that he “would be completely fine getting a decision.” A decision? Against a man he’s clearly supposed to be better than? “I’m a boxer puncher,” Jacobs explained, “and I love to box.” In fact, Jacobs is such a realist that he made it clear where he feels he stands in relation to Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, who Golovkin recently fought to a draw. “I know,” he said, “that even though these guys aren’t really fearful of me, right now I’m in a lose-lose situation with those guys because I am not technically a champion.”
“They know it’s not worth it to step in there with a guy like me,” Jacobs continued. “I’d rather continue to do my job, climb the ladder, get a title eventually and maybe chase these guys, but to fight me right now? I don’t see that happening.” And so, for the moment at least, there’s Arias. “My job is to continue what I’ve been doing,” said Jacobs. “I’m a professional and have to act accordingly and the goal is to get the job done and look impressive.”
Floyd Mayweather Media Call: “This Is My Last One”
By: Sean Crose
“This is my last one, ladies and gentleman.”
Photo Credit: USA Today
So said Floyd Mayweather during a Thursday call to promote his August 26th superfight against UFC superstar Conor McGregor. “I gave my word to Al Haymon,” he added, “I gave my word to my children…I’m going to stick to my word.” At least some on the call (it seemed like more) didn’t appear to want to talk about the fight itself. Floyd’s legacy, for instance, was important to one of the reporters who spoke. Racism, not surprisingly, is what obviously interested the caller from the New York Times. Floyd, however, remained the same laid back guy he has largely been with the media in recent years.
“I haven’t had time to focus on anything but this event,” he claimed, which anyone who has closely followed Mayweather knows is most likely true. Yet Mayweather also made it clear that he was as serenely confident as ever. “I’m not really worried about the outcome,” he said, referring to the match itself. Floyd, however, was still Floyd, no matter how over the hill he wants to come across to the media these days. When asked about his early struggle to make it as a star, for instance, the 49-0 slickster suddenly came alive.
“Floyd Mayweather has never been struggling,” he asserted. “Me and (boxing guru) Al Haymon joined forces.” When asked about the notorious Paulie Malignaggi – Conor McGregor sparring session the public has seen clips of, Mayweather also made it clear that he found McGreggor to be a dirty fighter. “A lot of shots were illegal,” he noted. When queried as to whether he was worried about McGregor fighting dirty when they meet in the ring, though, Mayweather stated that he’s “pretty sure the referee is going to be fair on both sides.”
Truth be told, Mayweather is always interesting to listen to speak. Love him or hate him, he’s an fascinating individual. If McGregor rides on overdrive with the media, Mayweather likes to sprinkle his talks with interesting asides. For every boast (“My real estate portfolio is truly amazing.”) there’s something telling about the man that’s offered. Like the fact that he refuses to watch his own fights. “When I look at them,” Mayweather said, “I’m like I could have done this better I could have done that better.” There’s also his interesting take on Rocky Marciano, the man whose 49-0 record most assume Mayweather will best in a week from Saturday.
“Rocky Marciano is a legend,” he claimed. “Rocky Marciano did it his way. I just want to do it the Mayweather way.”
One interesting side note:
No one – not a single person – asked Mayweather why he chose a man who has never had a boxing match in his life as his supposed last opponent. Perhaps those who spoke already had asked that question previously. Or perhaps those who were allowed to ask questions didn’t think it was important.
Or perhaps they simply didn’t want to hear the answer.
More Full Coverage: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor
McGregor: “In My Mind It’s An Easy Fight.”
By: Sean Crose
“In my mind,” Conor McGregor told a throng of journalists at Friday’s media workout, “it’s an easy fight.” Perhaps he was telling the truth. Swaggering around the UFC training center in Las Vegas, the man certainly seemed confident – or at least desperate to appear confident. That was nothing new to those MMA fans who have followed the Irishman’s meteoric rise. Indeed, whether he’s preparing for the ring or the octagon, McGregor makes one wonder if he’s actually masking some deep insecurity with all his bluster. No matter. He’s proven wildly successful in the UFC and now that success – coupled with his over the top personality – has led to a lucrative novelty boxing match with 49-0 Floyd Mayweather.
It was clear during the proceedings that McGregor is one of those people who always positions himself to have the upper hand…or at least to appear to. When asked why he refused help from boxing wunderkind Vasyl Lomachenko, for instance, the Irishman was flip and dismissive. “He needs to challenge himself,” McGregor said. “He’s pretty skilled…but he’s not applicable for this camp.” Sure enough, McGregor seemed equally dismissive of the sport of boxing. “I’m from a different game,” he quipped. “I’m from a more ruthless game.” The UFC star also stated his belief that boxing referees keep the combatants from complete destruction. Referring to mixed martial arts, he claimed that “there’s no wincing to the ref.”
There is, however, tapping out, something McGregor did less than a year and a half ago during a major fight with Nate Diaz. None of the reporters gathered, however, seemed to bring that fact up – at least not at the moment. Mayweather was certainly brought it up, however. Yet McGregor wanted the world to know that he didn’t fear the legendary fighter at all. “If we go eight ounces,” McGregor claimed in reference to glove size, “he’s not going two rounds.”
Make no mistake about it, McGregor acts more like a WWE star than a professional boxer – or even a professional mixed martial artists. “It’s okay to love me as much as I love me,” he told those gathered around. “It’s okay. Let it go.” Although most analysts aren’t giving McGregor a real chance against Mayweather, the man is certainly talking a good game. Arguing that boxing has been consisting of the “same boring shit,” MMA’s wild child went on to add on Friday that he will “rule over both (sports) with an iron fist.”
McGregor’s public workout, however left some puzzled. In fact, some boxing journalists took to openly mocking the man on Twitter afterwards. And in truth, watching the bearded red head prance around a ring was a sight which bordered on the comical. Who knows, though? Perhaps McGregor truly will surprise everyone (without the benefit of a gift decision).
More Full Coverage: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor
Mayweather: “I’m not going to get involved…if I think I’m going to take a loss.”
By: Sean Crose
“I’m not going to get involved in anything if I think I’m going to take a loss.”
Photo Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime
So said Floyd Mayweather at Thursday’s Media Day at the Mayweather Gym in Las Vegas. The event was, of course, to help Mayweather promote his fight with UFC superstar Conor McGregor. Mayweather held court as always. Indeed, the man seemed to revert to the more laid back demeanor he’d been showcasing over the last several years. Gone was the ugly trash talk of the endless press tour. This Mayweather, the one who acts like a professional and an adult, spoke of helping young fighters, of training and of aging. “I think it’s more rest,” he said, referring to training in his forties. “I can train two or three days, but let the body rest a couple of days.”
The 49-0 pound for pound great also spoke of his public persona. “I decided to go to the other side,” he claimed, referring to the fact that he chose not to portray himself as an all American hero. Indeed, Mayweather was to point out Thursday that McGregor himself has been taking a page out of the Mayweather playbook, a point that’s hard to argue, as the Irishman loves to present himself as a materialistic villain. Mayweather, however, also made it clear that he wasn’t taking the mixed martial artist lightly. “I can’t overlook any opponent,” he said. Sure enough, Mayweather later claimed he’s been studying his foe in preparation for their August 26th throwdown. “Even right now,” he said, “I know how much Conor McGregor’s down to – his weight.”
A very overlooked aspect of Mayweather is the fact that he’s one of the smartest athletes in the world. Illiteracy rumors aside, the man knows everything he needs to in order to be successful. A study of the man in interview’s like Thursday’s shows someone who is quick and funny when need be – but also deliberate and willfully cool under pressure. Not just anyone can possess such traits. Which, of course, brings us back to the comment about avoiding anything that will lead to a loss. Was Mayweather giving away the show? Was it a rare slip? Or perhaps something more? “I’m going to tell the people what I truly believe,” he said after his notable statement.
Whether he thinks he stands a chance of losing or not, however, Maywether made sure to try to sell what many believe will be a one sided fight. “A fighter’s a fighter,” he said of McGregor. “We’re both confident in our skills. We’ll just have to see.” The man said something else rather telling during the course of the Q@A. Asked what he would think if the fight went twelve rounds, Mayweather made it clear it would reflect poorly. “It is a victory for him,” he said, referring to the possibility of McGregor going the distance. We’ll see if Mayweather says the same thing after the fight. The guy has a knack of winning by decision, after all. “August 26th, after the fight is over, everybody’s going to be happy,” he said.
That may or may not be true. There are two individuals out there, though, who are definitely going to be rich.