Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Mayweather LAS VEGAS – Believe it or not, there are other fights going on in Vegas this week besides Mayeather vs. Pacquiao. One of the most prominent is tonight at the Palms Casino when veteran Ishe Smith makes his return to face Cecil McCalla on a special Thursday edition of ESPN Friday Night Fights.
PREDICTION: Smith and McCalla are at different points in their careers, but both of them are at a crossroads nonetheless. Since his career highlight of winning the IBF junior middleweight title in 2013, Ishe Smith has since dropped the belt in his first defense and lost 2 of his last 3 fights. Those aforementioned fights included a win over a washed up Ryan Davis, and two lopsided defeats to Top 5 guys in Carlos Molina and Erislandy Lara, leaving the 36-year-old Smith struggling to retain relevance as an elite fighter should be drop another decision to a highly-ranked opponent.
The 30-year-old McCalla had his first step-up bout in January when he fought Chris Van Heerden for the international IBF welterweight title. Although I had it wide for Van Heerden from ringside, McCalla did give a good account for himself with his counter-punching and got one judge to side with him in a losing split decision.
In this fight, McCalla has a good chance to pull of the upset but their are a few concerning factors. For one, this is a Mayweather Promotions card in Vegas during a Mayweather fight week. Smith should have the crowd on his side and that can sway the close rounds (which should be many due to the normally low punch output from both). In addition, McCalla will be moving up to 154 and might struggle to keep Smith off of him considering the issues he had in that same department with Van Heerden.
Cecil McCalla has the talent, so defeating a sliding Ishe Smith tonight would be minor upset, if that. But there are enough factors (weight, hometown crowd, experience ) that make me feel Smith will get a controversial majority decision in his favor. SMITH MD
NOTES The other televised card will be Ashley Theophane vs. Mahonri Montes.