There’s a reason Las Vegas’ Ishe Smith appeared distracted in losing a 12-round split decision to Carlos Molina on Sept. 14 and why he didn’t do interviews in the aftermath of relinquishing his IBF junior middleweight title to Molina at the MGM Grand Garden.
Smith’s trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, was not feeling well the night of the fight.
Muhammad was suffering from severe dehydration, and before walking Smith to the ring, paramedics had him hooked up to intravenous fluids. He collapsed after the fight and was taken to Summerlin Hospital, where he spent six days recovering.
“I had an abscessed tooth, and I wasn’t eating or drinking because of the toothache, and it led to my dehydration,” Muhammad said Thursday. “I’ve been taking water pills to lose weight all summer, and it all caught up with me at the worst possible time.”
Smith said he didn’t want to make excuses for his performance. But he said not having Muhammad in the ring with him between rounds caused him to lose focus. Assistants Dejuan Blake and Bob Ware handled Smith’s corner inside the ropes while Muhammad was relegated to the foot of the stairs.
“I was worried about my coach,” Smith said. “It distracted me from the time I walked into the locker room and saw Eddie hooked up to those IVs. He told me not to worry about it, but I couldn’t. He’s like a father to me.”
Smith had a slow start but appeared to pick up the pace as the fight headed into the second half. He still believes Molina didn’t do enough to beat him, particularly in his hometown.
“I would love to get a rematch with Molina,” Smith said. “Yeah, I had an off night, and I’ve come to grips with it. But that wasn’t me fighting in that fight. I’m better than that.”
Smith (25-6, 11 knockouts) hopes to be back in the ring before the end of the year, perhaps as part of the undercard of the Adrien Broner-Marcos Maidana WBA welterweight title fight Dec. 14 at the MGM.
“I’ve been in this situation before, having to prove myself all over again,” said Smith, 35. “I’ll bounce back from this.”
■ VARGAS AT T&M — Las Vegas welterweight Jessie Vargas returns to the ring Oct. 11, headlining Top Rank’s fight card at the Thomas &Mack Center. Vargas (22-0, nine KOs) faces New York’s Ray Narh (26-3, 21 KOs) in the 10-round main event.
Vargas last fought March 16, scoring a 10-round unanimous decision over Wale Omotoso in Carson, Calif.
The undercard features another Las Vegas super bantamweight, Jessie Magdaleno (16-0, 12 KOs), in an eight-round bout against a foe to be determined. Magdaleno is coming off a third-round KO of Luis Maldonado on Aug. 24 in Glendale, Calif.
The card will be a prelude to the Oct. 12 WBO welterweight title fight between Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez at the Thomas &Mack.
■ ALI DOCUMENTARY — A 100-minute Muhammad Ali documentary debuts Oct. 5 on HBO.
“Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight” centers on Ali’s refusal to accept induction into the U.S. Army and fight in Vietnam, his subsequent ban from boxing and his legal battle that the U.S. Supreme Court eventually heard in 1971.
The film, which stars Christopher Plummer and Frank Langella and was directed by Stephen Frears, will be shown throughout October on HBO and HBO2.
“He was a fantastic, remarkable man who did many, many remarkable things,” Frears said. “Not just as a supremely gifted athlete but as a man.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.