"I wish we could have fought 2 weeks ago. I'm in the best shape of my life, I'm ready, and there is nothing that's gonna stop me...I'm not worried about fighting K9 there because, like I said, they can't fight for him. And I think, at the end of the day, they gonna respect me and my skills and we gonna go out there and put on a performance for the ages...February 23rd is going to be a great night, history is going to be made, and we are going to go out there and win this fight and bring this title back home to Vegas and we gonna party," stated jr. middleweight contender Ishe Smith, who talked about his upcoming clash on February 23 with IBF jr. middleweight champion Cornelius "K9" Bundrage. Check it out!
PC: Now that Devon Alexander is injured, your fight against Bundrage has been moved to the main event. Does that change anything for you mentally?
IS: My mindset was this was always the main event anyway because Brook and Alexander got added to our card. They had to find a home when Brook got hurt and then they got added to this card, so we were always the main event and they was sharing the bill with us, with him being from Detroit and me going there with all of the history that we have with one another, so I felt like this was always the main event. So there was never really anything that crossed my mind with them being on the card. I was just excited to see Brook because I hear a lot of stuff about him, so I was excited to see him live and everything, but unfortunately that's not gonna happen.
PC: You guys got to see one another at the press conference and you were able to size him up. What did you think once you were in front of him?
IS: I just felt like his time has passed and it's my time now. As I told him at the press conference, it's his hometown and his city, but they can't fight for him. And that's what it is; boxing is not like football or basketball where in basketball you waiving stuff where it throws someone trying to shoot free throws off, or in football they can scream loud so the opposing team can't hear plays and cadences and stuff like that. In boxing, it's different once you get in that squared circle; you tune out everything on the outside. You don't listen to fans. They can't fight for him. He has to get in there and fight and I have to fight and that's what it's gonna be. I don't care where it's at.
PC: We started talking about this thing a couple of weeks back and now that it's literally here, what is the feeling like?
IS: I feel great. I'm in the best shape of my life. Most fighters say that and I know a lot of fans will be like, "We hear that all of the time," but I really do feel that way. We have added a couple great pieces. We got Dejuan Blake, who is Floyd's camp coordinator and now he coordinat, and you see him on TV when Floyd fight and on 24/7 and he has been a great asset to have in camp. Dejuan has been that missing piece. We added Bob Ware, who is an up-and-coming hand wrapper in the game. We didn't want no mishaps with my past history of hurting my hands, like in my last fight. He is gonna be great and you are gonna see a lot of Bob coming up and you will see him in a lot of corners wrapping hands pretty soon. He is also a great cutman, so everything is going great, Percy, so I'm honestly ecstatic, man. I wish we could have fought 2 weeks ago. I'm in the best shape of my life, I'm ready, and there is nothing that's gonna stop me.
PC: When you look at Mayweather Promotions, Mickey Bey came back with a big knockout win, so did Badou Jack, Arias, and Bellows showed a lot of promise as well. So they got the ball rolling. Do you feel like it's on you to punctuate things by bringing home that title?
IS: Ah man, I think it says a lot for Floyd giving me a shot again, and of course the man upstairs God, because he brings people in your life for a reason. But I know without Floyd, this fight wouldn't have happened. I'm very grateful to him and the things he is doing for me and my family and kids, and I want it. This is history, man, for my city. Nobody has ever won the title who was born here, so this is for all of the kids out here that have dreams and give up on dreams and have people tell them they can't do something and gave up. I wanna be that light that shows after 13 years of rollercoaster rides, up, down and around, feeling like quitting and giving up. I wanna be that light that tells the kids and adults to keep pushing and follow your dreams and don't give up. It means a lot to me, the TMT family, to Floyd, and most importantly my city of Las Vegas, man. It's been a long road and it will be punctuated with a world championship on February 23rd.
PC: Could you gauge by the press conference if you are going into hostile territory or do you think it will be one of those crowds that cheer for the fighter bringing the action?
IS: Man Percy, I have been through it all, so it really doesn't matter. Whenever you get used to fighting in front of 7 to 8 million people and have people recognize you just from walking down the street, when I was on The Contender, that's pressure. Whenever you go to New York and fight Pawel Wolak in his backyard I can barely hear my coach in the corner. It was like a mini soccer stadium in that place; that was pressure and I delivered, so I'm not worried about fighting K9 in Detroit. I have a lot of respect for Detroit. I love Detroit, man, because one of my favorite football players, Calvin Johnson, plays there. He is a great wide receiver and I have followed his career since he was at Georgia Tech. I have a lot of respect for Calvin Johnson and what he has done for the city of Detroit, but I'm not worried about fighting K9 there because, like I said, they can't fight for him. And I think, at the end of the day, they gonna respect me and my skills and we gonna go out there and put on a performance for the ages. I got the best coach I still got the general. Me and the general added some pieces and I still got him, and that to me is the ingredient to everything. Eddie Mustafa is like a father figure to me. Sometimes we go at it in the gym like father and son, but at the end of the day, he is a father figure and I'm always gonna listen to what he say. Sometimes, he might say something to me and I will say something back and he will snap right back at me and be like, "Okay, you right. Let's make it happen." And that means a lot because I grew up without a father. He is the most positive male I have ever had in my life. It will be a sad day when he decides to not train fighters anymore. I can't even think of having another man by my side than him.
PC: Before I let you go, I gotta let you clear the air on the situation you had with Omar Henry. Of course you guys had some heated, back-and-forth debates and words, but I know there is no wishing death on no man. I just wanted to let you get a final say on the Omar Henry situation.
IS: Like I said when I found out he passed, it was never personal with me and Omar. I have had words with every opponent and potential opponent and it's always business to sell a fight. Us fighters don't see each other in the streets and be ready to fight each other. We know how to sell fights. I was in camp with Omar. Me and Omar never had beef. We went to one of Floyd's fights together; we never got in any type of beefs or had any type of arguments. We were cordial with one another. We were cool. So when I found out he passed, it was sad. We always tried to sell a potential fight and to make something happen that way, but I had a lot of respect for him and I was saddened by his death because it felt like just yesterday I was in camp with him helping Floyd get ready for Cotto and we went to the fight together. And last November or something, Leonard Ellerbe called with a potential fight with him and that didn't materialize because obviously we had something bigger and better going with this title shot. But it made me realize how short life is. I mean, to think, this guy was one of the best prospects in boxing coming up and now he's passed away and it makes me appreciate life a little bit more. But to clear things up, we had our heated moments, but it was never personal; it was always business. I always had a lot of respect for him and what he did in boxing and I was saddened by his death.
PC: I definitely wanted to let you get that out. Best of luck to you on the 23rd. I know you are selling some shirts and the benefits support the lost ones of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Give me some closing thoughts and tell us more about the shirts.
IS: I just want to tell the fans for 13 years of dedication and support of me, I appreciate you guys so much. This week I'm going to start selling shirts for all of the kids and the fallen victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School and every dime that we make is going to go to them. You can purchase these shirts through my Facebook fan page https://twitter.com/IsheSugarShay/status/300804336617914370/photo/1 and on my Twitter https://twitter.com/IsheSugarShay and they are really nice. Like I said, I'm not making a dime off of them; it's just something that I wanted to do because I was touched by the story because of my own kids. I think I've told the story before. It's been a long road though and thanks to my city and all of the fans for their support and thanks to the people that told me I couldn't do it. To reach this pinnacle of my career and have it on this platform and to be able to lay it on the line on one night and come out of there a world champion is everything, so thanks to Floyd and Leonard Ellerbe and Mayweather Promotions. February 23rd is going to be a great night, history is going to be made, and we are going to go out there and win this fight and bring this title back home to Vegas and we gonna party!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]