Ishe Smith’s return to the ring couldn’t have gone better.
The Las Vegas junior middleweight dominated Ryan Davis, knocking him out with a big left hook in the second round Friday night at the Hard Rock Hotel to improve to 26-6.
More important, Smith’s confidence got a much-needed boost after he lost his International Boxing Federation title Sept. 14 to Carlos Molina at the MGM Grand Garden.
“He wasn’t the guy I wanted to fight,” Smith said of Davis, who replaced Erislandy Lara two weeks ago after Lara opted to fight Canelo Alvarez on July 12 at the MGM Grand and pulled out of what would have been a World Boxing Association title defense against Smith.
“But against a guy like this, I’ve got to look impressive and not give my critics anything to write about.”
The game plan was simple — go after Davis, work the body, use the jab and then come over the top. Smith executed trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad’s script to perfection. He rocked Davis with two hard lefts to the body in the opening minute, and Davis was in big trouble.
Smith kept up the pressure in the second round, continuing his assault on Davis’ midsection. And with the round winding down, Smith began his final assault.
It began with a right jab, followed by a left to the body. Another combination had Davis in trouble, and Smith then landed the big left hook that sent Davis down as referee Jay Nady counted him out at 2:59. The knockout was the 12th of Smith’s career.
“In this kind of situation, you’ve got to be exciting and aggressive,” Smith said. “I was able to open up on him early, and this is just what I needed. We’re in the final phase of my career, and this was a great way to start. I’ve got plenty left.”
Smith said he’ll wait to see how things shake out in the division. He hopes he’ll get to fight for a title this year but said he’ll remain patient.
“If I take care of my business, I know I’ll get another shot to fight for a title,” he said.
In the co-feature, Las Vegas lightweight Mickey Bey won a 10-round unanimous decision over Alan Herrera to improve to 20-1-1. Bey consistently landed body shots and landed with 38 percent of his total punches to Herrera’s 30 percent. Herrera’s best moment came in the seventh round, when he landed a left hook that knocked Bey down.
“I felt like I perfected what we worked on in the gym,” Bey said. “He’s a tough fighter, but I felt I did more than enough to win.”
Bey led 98-92, 98-92 and 97-92 on the scorecards in dropping Herrera to 32-6.
Jesus Cuellar retained his WBA interim featherweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Rico Ramos (23-4). Cuellar (24-1), knocked Ramos down in the first round and dominated most of the fight. The judges scored it 117-109, 116-110 and 114-112.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.