DETROIT, Michigan — Ishe Smith’s arduous 13-year boxing journey has finally culminated with his first title win last night over Cornelius “K9” Bundrage at the Masonic Temple.
While this was a fight you’ll likely never have a strong desire to see again, the ending made you feel glad you got through the 12 rounds of posing and mauling. Smith, with his young son in his arms, burst into tears at the announcement of his IBF title win. Just three years ago, he was a man who couldn’t secure a fight and suffered from suicidal depression. And now after years of being written off, he’s finally emerged as a champion.
As with all of his life, this fight wasn’t without struggle. Early on Smith’s lack of initiative, a big criticism throughout his career, had him letting Bundrage control the action. K9 popped the jab confidently from his waist and had Smith complaining about the roughhousing. When Bundrage started to slow down, Smith rose to the occasion as his punches exploited K9’s bad balance and wide shots.
From the seventh round on, Bundrage’s tendency to pull his head straight back resulted in him getting stunned regularly by Smith right hands that forced him to hold in the championship rounds.
Still, with K9 being the Detroit native there had to be some judge favoritism on the card with Smith having to settle for a split decision win via scores of 116-111 twice and 113-114.
According to Gabriel Rosado, Smith promised him a shot should he win the title. That’s a good scrap where I’d favor Rosado.
On the undercard, J’Leon Love had some rough moments but outboxed the game but limited Derrick Findley. Love did his best work from the outside and spent most of his time on the move. When Findley did corner Love, he did a decent job working the body and mugging Love with rights (many borderline rabbit punches) in the clinches. If Findley had a better jab to work his way in, the fight could have been more interesting. Nonetheless, the final scores were a little wide (100-90 and 99-91 twice for Love) and didn’t reflect Findley’s work. According to Mayweather, Love will be back in action on his May 4 undercard.