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Smith looks to shine on Mayweather’s card

He's not on the pay-per-view telecast, but Ishe Smith could be involved in one of the better fights on Floyd Mayweather Jr.'s card Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden when Mayweather faces Andre Berto on Showtime PPV.

The 37-year-old Las Vegan, who held the International Boxing Federation junior middleweight title for nearly seven months in 2013, meets Vanes Martirosyan in a 10-round bout early on the undercard. With a win, Smith perhaps can get back in the conversation for a title fight. He was unable to dethrone World Boxing Association champion Erislandy Lara on Dec. 12.

"At this point of my career, every fight is important," said Smith (27-7, 12 knockouts). "You never know if or when you'll get another chance. I'm treating this like it's a championship fight."

Martirosyan (35-2-1, 21 knockouts) is also trying to work his way into the title picture. He fought for the World Boxing Organization title in 2013 but lost a 12-round split decision to Demetrius Andrade. He is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision loss to Jermell Charlo on March 28, so this is a critical fight for Martirosyan as well.

"I'm familiar with Vanes," Smith said. "He likes to pressure you, and he's one of the top junior middleweights. Maritrosyan is a good dude, but he hasn't been in with guys like I have, guys that are better and hit a lot harder than him. He's fought some top guys. I consider myself the smarter fighter, and I'm going to use that to my advantage."

Smith, who has been working with Tommy Smith (no relation) after having parted ways earlier this year with longtime trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, said he wants to build on the things he did in his April 30 win over Cecil McCalla. That night, he went to the body effectively and put solid combinations together.

"We've been in the gym since June working on getting sharper," Smith said. "It's been a long camp, but I feel good."

Smith said he should be the favorite over Martirosyan based on both fighters' careers.

"I won a world title as a B-side. But I feel like I'm the A-side in this fight," Smith said. "I've fought the best in the division for years and years."

For Smith, who fights under the Mayweather Promotions banner, being on the same card as his boss will give him extra motivation on Saturday. That and the fact Mayweather claims he intends to retire from boxing after the Berto fight.

"It's going to be an historic night," Smith said. "It's an honor to be part of this card. I want to do well, not just for myself, but for Floyd. He's been there for me, and Floyd always says when the lights come on, that's when it matters most. So you can expect a big effort from me."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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