Saturday, December 03, 2022  |



Smith focused on Lara, not TMT drama, going into Friday showdown


Ishe Smith (R) clocks Cornelius Bundrage with a right en route to a decision victory that earned him the IBF junior middleweight title in early 2013. Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s The Money Team has seen better years. Aside from Mayweather keeping his pristine record intact with two wins against Marcos Maidana, the rest of 2014 has been mired in controversy and its fair share of ups and downs.

In a year that has seen TMT-promoted contenders Badou Jack and J’Leon Love suffer KO losses, “the team” could use a high-profile victory.

TMT hopes to close out a turbulent year on a positive note as Ishe Smith (26-6, 12 knockouts) looks to be a two-time world titleholder when he faces Erislandy Lara on Friday in San Antonio. [Editor’s note: Smith will be challenging Lara for the WBA’s “regular” 154-pound title that Lara holds, however THE RING only recognizes Mayweather as the WBA’s junior middleweight champ.]

But despite the fog of controversy hovering around the boxing collective, Smith feels very little pressure to perform come Friday night.

“In boxing there aren’t any teams,” Smith explained to from the Mayweather Boxing Club before departing for San Antonio. “Many of those guys are my little brothers but when they suffer defeat that’s on them. Don’t get me wrong, I wish them all well but I have to focus on me.”

It’s certainly not that Smith doesn’t care what happens to the rest of The Money Team, it’s more about his belief that “Life throws you curveballs and if you strikeout, know that there will be another at bat.” He’s more concerned with how his teammates pick themselves up after a loss rather than putting extra pressure on himself to win “for” the team.

“A lot of these guys on TMT don’t know how good they have it,” Smith says about the fighters who are attached to the promotion with boxing’s biggest name attached to it. “I’ve been at the bottom and had to pick myself up. I’ve suffered defeats and taken short money for fights. I’ve done all of that and they don’t know what that is like. How they pick themselves up is on them. I’ve done it so many times that it’s in my nature.”

And if anybody knows about hardships, it is Smith. The 36-year-old veteran has had a hard-knock life both in and outside of the ring. He’s overcome suicidal thoughts, family turmoil, struggled with landing top tier fights against boxing’s elite and has often dealt with the tag of not living up to his potential since his days on NBC’s unscripted boxing series “The Contender.”

“I’ve gone through a little bit of everything and they don’t know what its like,” Smith continues. “The only person who can come close to what I’ve experienced is maybe Ashley Theophane. But outside of him nobody has experienced the hard knock life that I have dealt with in this sport.”

Smith is well aware that his window to being an elite fighter is closing, which is why his showdown with Lara is a significant one in his career. A loss could be devastating to all future title hopes but Smith sees nothing that Lara has to offer as a hurdle he can’t clear.

“I have fought a lot of tough fighters and sparred with Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley, Vernon Forrest, Oscar De La Hoya and was always the chief sparring partner,” Smith says as he runs down the his portfolio of opponents which includes Randall Bailey, Sergio Mora, Alfonso Gomez, Daniel Jacobs, Carlos Molina and Cornelius Bundrage. “Is there anything he can do that I haven’t dealt with? Hell no! Not a damn thing. I’ve seen it all. There are a lot of miles on this body. If I don’t know these roads by now, I need to stop fighting.”