Photo Credit: Jeandra LeBeauf/BadCulture.net
LAS VEGAS — Last night at the Palms Casino, Mayweather Promotions fighter Ishe Smith got back in the win column with a decisive win over Cecil McCalla. Smith won’t ever be confused with an all-action guy, but his effort last night showed a determination to still compete at the elite level despite the closing window of being a 36-year-old athlete.
EARLY STATEMENTS: Smith established his power shots early on by taking advantage of McCalla’s subpar defense (head and body) to land overhand rights. McCalla’s version of the shoulder roll was too slow, allowing Smith to catch him upstairs and also with digging rights to McCalla’s exposed left side. One of Smith’s best moments came in the second when he rocked McCalla with a right hand and rained down non-stop punches for the last 20 seconds. To his credit, McCalla covered up well and prevented the clean punching that would have forced referee Tony Weeks to stop it.
MCCALLA TRIES TO COMPETE: McCalla’s best asset is his counter-punching, and the native Jamaican got some decent work done when Smith’s output started to wane in the middle rounds. Coming up from welterweight, McCalla looked his best when he kept the bout at ring center and used his speed to catch Smith flush with counter right crosses. These instances also allowed McCalla to get better positioning and credit on my scorecard for good defense. I gave him rounds 4,7, and 8.
SMITH FINISHES STRONG: Considering that Smith was overweight (155 lbs.) and didn’t take his shirt off at the weigh-in (he looked softer than usual at the fight), it made sense that he would be wary of his stamina. It’s likely he paced himself in those middle rounds. Smith got back on track in the ninth by driving McCalla to the ropes with hard hooks and keeping his hands busy whenever there was punching room. He did even better in the tenth by stunning McCalla with a right and throwing non-stop punches over the final 30 seconds. Although McCalla did attempt to fire back, he was so severely outgunned in power that there was no doubt who won the round (or the fight, for that matter).
Two judges saw the fight as I did, scoring it 97-93 for Smith with the remaining official making the decision unanimous via a 98-92 tally.
THEOPHANE RUNS OUT OF GAS IN TIME: In the co-feature, another Mayweather Promotions mainstay in Ashley Theophane was dropped late in the 10th round but hung on for an unpopular unanimous decision. I caught this fight in about the seventh round, so I can’t speak for how the bout went in the preceding rounds. From what I saw, Theophane was landing the cleaner shots but struggling with the high-tempo pace that brawler Mohonri Montes established. Montes finally caught Theophane with a short right in an exchange to get his knockdown, but the bell literally rang as the ref signaled them to resume action.
Theophane was awarded a split decision (96-93 twice, 93-96). Until he can show otherwise, it’s best that Mayweather Promotions keeps Theophane fighting this level of opponents.