Not much has gone lately the way Ishe Smith had planned in his boxing career.
The 35-year-old Las Vegan was hoping to hang on to his International Boxing Federation junior middleweight title for longer than seven months. But he lost a 12-round split decision to Carlos Molina on Sept. 14 at the MGM Grand Garden.
Smith (25-6, 11 knockouts) was hoping to win another title and thought he had that possibility secured against World Boxing Association junior middleweight champ Erislandy Lara. But Lara wanted a bigger payday, and he called out Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and goaded him into a July 12 fight at the Grand Garden.
That left Smith without a chance to redeem himself. He enters the ring tonight at the Hard Rock Hotel against veteran Ryan Davis (24-13-3, nine KOs) in the 10-round main event to be televised on Fox Sports 1. Smith is entering what is likely the final phase of his career, and if he wants to remain relevant and get another shot at a world title, he can’t afford to lose to Davis.
“I can’t take any more backward steps,” Smith said. “Everyone’s expecting me to beat this guy, but I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m the one with everything to lose.”
Smith said he knew he would be fighting on Cinco de Mayo weekend. He thought it would be against Lara. But he is staying mentally strong, something he struggled to do against Molina.
On that night, Smith’s trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, was suffering from dizziness and dehydration and went to the hospital after the fight. It was a major distraction for Smith.
“It definitely messed me up,” Smith said. “I felt like everything was stacked up against me that night.
“With Lara, I was the one who wanted that fight. I could have fought earlier. But I wanted to fight the best, and Lara has the (WBA) belt, and my goal is to become world champion again. But I’m eager to perform, and I want to put on an exciting performance.”
Muhammad said he’s not worried about his fighter.
“Mentally, he’s good,” he said. “As long as he stayed in the gym and kept working, I knew he’d be fine. What happened with Lara happens all the time in boxing. So we move on to the next guy.
“I want to see Ishe throwing his jab more in this fight. I want him to be more active, more aggressive. We had good sparring to get him ready, and we’re moving forward from what happened with Molina last September and from Lara pulling out.”
In the co-feature, Mickey Bey meets Alan Herrera in a 10-round lightweight bout. Bey (18-1-1, 10 KOs) recovered from his first loss — a 10th-round stoppage by John Molina on July 19 — with a third-round TKO over Carlos Cardenas.
Herrera (32-5, 21 KOs) is fighting in the United States for the first time.
The first bell is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. The televised portion of the card begins at 7.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.