Ishe Smith - More Than Just a Contender

By Darren Nichols


Ishe Smith - More Than Just a Contender

"I thought I landed the higher percentage and the more significant blows, and his face told the story."

Having fought Sechew Powell and Sergio Mora over the past two years, Ishe Smith is willing to take on the best opponent available to him in the junior middleweight division.  After his close decision loss to the Joel Julio on ESPN2’s Wednesday Night Fights last week, Smith spoke with Boxingtalk about how he feels about his performance last week, what he will do different when he steps in the ring again and what he believes will be the key to victory in his next outing. 

Boxingtalk:  Ishe, give us your thoughts about your fight with Joel Julio last week.

Ishe Smith:  I thought it was a competitive fight.  I thought it was two world class fighters putting on a decent scrap.  I think Julio took the early rounds and I turned it on late.  Teddy Atlas made a lot of comments about not being busy, and I agree with that. I have to be more active.  If you look at the past couple years, I fought only once last year and a couple times in 06.  I need to be more active in my career.  A lot of people say I’m a throwback fighter, that I have a great defense, and I thought it was a great fight.

BT:  Was there anything that surprised you about Julio’s performance?

Ishe Smith:  No.  It was what we thought.  They don’t comment on the jab anymore.  Azumah Nelson and Roger Mayweather used to tell me how you can control a fight with the jab.  I don’t know what the judges look at anymore.  I don’t know if they’re trying to turn this into the UFC.  I thought I landed the higher percentage and the more significant blows, and his face told the story.

BT:  Do you feel this is a similar situation that Bernard Hopkins found himself in after the Calzaghe fight?

Ishe Smith:  No, because Calzaghe pressed the action, and Bernard was holding a lot.  It was classic Bernard.  I think my fight with Julio was more like what Bernard went through in the first Taylor fight.  I clearly won the last three or four rounds.

BT:  What do you feel was the biggest factor in the judges' scoring fight in favor of Julio?

Ishe Smith:  I know that inactivity equals no activity in the ring.  It’s like in football, you have to go to camp and get in game shape.  Well, in boxing, you have to get in fight shape.  I’m not in the point in my career where fighting two of three times a year is good for me.  I want to be more active and get in there and pick up the pace like I fought the last four rounds.

BT:  When will we see you in the ring next?

Ishe Smith:  If they called me and told me they have something for me at the end of May or early June I’d take it.  Anything after the beginning of July I’m not cool with.  I have a lot of respect for Julio.  I still don’t think he’s better than me, but he’s a world class fighter.  He fought more than me the past two years.  I should have pulled out the victory, but I want to stay busy.  If that means fighting a couple club shows then that’s what I’ll have to do.

BT:  What statement do you believe you made in your fight with Julio?

Ishe Smith:  In the last four rounds I showed I can dig deep.  The last four rounds I showed I’m not going to just sit back.  It’s coming together slow.  I’ll be 30 soon, and working with Roger was huge, and I just think we have to be more active.

BT:  What do you feel you learned from this fight that will help you next time you get in the ring?

Ishe Smith:  I don’t duck or dodge anyone.  Sechew Powell was top ranked when I fought him.  Joel Julio is a top ranked fighter who only lost to one guy.  I’m showing I’m willing to fight anyone.  I just have to be more active.  I think hands down, you can’t teach the defense I have.  I know moving forward to continue where we left off in the last four rounds is key, and I need to increase my punch output.

BT:  Why didn’t you start earlier in the fight rather than waiting until the last four rounds to pick up the pace?

Ishe Smith:  He’s not a devastating puncher, but he’s really heavy handed.  I felt I was doing enough to win.  Julio didn’t win the first round.  The first five rounds were a little back and forth, and by the sixth round when I went back to my corner they told me I was losing the fight.  They told me I need all the rounds from seven on, and that’s when something clicked, and I picked it up.

BT:  What can we expect from you the next time we see you in the ring?

Ishe Smith:  I can be in the gym all I want but if you only fight a few times like I’ve been doing then it’s not going to be good.  This is not an excuse.  I take nothing away from Julio.  He’s a great fighter.  He didn’t talk trash about me and I didn’t talk trash about him leading up the fight, but as a competitor I still think I’m better than him.  If you look in ‘05 I fought one time.  In ‘06 I fought two times.  In ’07 I fought one time, and I’ve fought twice in ’08.  So, from ‘05 to ’07, I have only fought four times in three years.  That’s four times in 36 months.  That’s not good.  It’s all about being active.  I’m not a diva where I’m saying I need to get paid all this money.  I’m hungry, and I just want to fight.


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