Popular IBF light-middleweight champion Ishe Smith is set to make the first defence of his new belt against mandatory challenger Carlos Molina in the summer, with the finalization of the bout said to be a formality.
If all points are agreed, the clash is eyed for July, five months after his majority decision victory over Cornelius Bundrage, with the Las Vegas fighter stipulating that he was under no pressure whatsoever by the IBF to take the fight.
“It’s a fight I asked for. I told everyone that after I beat Bundrage I was going to give Molina a shot because he deserves it,” Smith told World Boxing News.
“Lets make one thing perfectly clear, yes Molina is my mandatory, but I did not have to fight him right now as I have until November 23rd to make my mandatory.
“The way I see it is, you see lots of champs ducking and dodging opponents and I don’t want to be like them – I want to be a trendsetter.
“I told Leonard (Ellerbe); ‘they say he’s one of the best (at 154) so make the fight.’ I am not focused on anyone or anything else besides Molina. I can’t wait for this fight, I have no details regarding the fight, Leonard Ellerbe is the best in the business, when all the kinks are worked out, he will deliver the news to everyone.
“Look at the landscape of the Jr-middleweight division. Trout is fighting Canelo, Lara is fighting Angulo, so everyone has a fight scheduled. Some people mentioned (Demetrius) Andrade, but he has not proven himself enough to get a shot over Molina.
“I could have sat back, waited or looked for a soft touch, but as a man all you got is your word and once that’s gone you might as well be dead.”
Smith, 34, delighted his army of fans by overthrowing Bundrage to become a world champion for the first time in Detroit last February and his post-fight outpouring at realising his dream earned him even more plaudits and recognition than before.
‘Sugar Shay’ now wants to prove his worth as a fully-fledged king of the division after years of struggling with inactivity and promotional problems, beginning with his maiden defence against a tough opponent in the 29 year-old Molina.
“I respect Molina, he is a worthy challenger, but in the end I will still be champ with my hand raised,” promised Smith.
“He can go on to tell everyone I gave him a shot, but that’s all it will be because he is leaving empty handed.
“I’m extremely excited to be defending my title and I want to put on a great show for the fans. This is a throwback fight between two vets and I know Molina is going to bring out the best in me.”
It’s hard to believe that just twelve months ago the former Contender star has left his previous promoter’s inharmoniously after a disagreement which was not of Smith’s own doing, but linking up with Floyd Mayweather Jr. has certainly brought the best out of the 30-fight title holder since then.
“I set goals for myself last year when Floyd took me under his wing and every goal I set for myself I’ve accomplished in less than a years time.
“Sometimes I wake up and can’t believe I’m a champion, it’s been a long tough journey and God has sustained me through it all. I thank him everyday for blessing me to accomplish something so great. Only a select few can say they had a dream and a vision as a child manifest in their lives.
Smith continued: “I just want to thank God for getting me to this stage, for sustaining me and brining me out of the darkest hours of my life. I also want to thank my family for pushing me and telling me to keep going and not to quit.
“Floyd Mayweather for giving me a second chance in my career and believing in me and Leonard Ellerbe for being that driving force behind the scenes that makes everything happen. Mayweather Promotions is the past, the present and the future of sports and entertainment.
“Finally the IBF, I thank them for allowing me the privilege to fight for their title, which I will defend it with honour and without all these ingredients I wouldn’t be where I am today.”