Ishe Smith back in the win column with UD over McCalla
LAS VEGAS – Looking to rinse the bad taste of the Erislandy Lara loss from his palette, Ishe Smith got back in the win column as he scored a unanimous decision victory over Cecil McCalla in an entertaining matchup between middleweights. With the special Thursday edition of ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” featuring many fighters from Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s The Money Team, Smith (27-7, 12 knockouts) had something to prove in the headliner that emanated from The Pearl inside of The Palms in Las Vegas.
Knowing that McCalla (20-2, 7 KOs) is far from a devastating puncher, Smith comfortably took on the role of the aggressor from the outset and repeatedly caught his opponent with a chopping right hand that shot through off of his jab. The formula worked in the early going as McCalla simply couldn’t get away from Smith’s right hand and lacked the firepower to keep Smith from opening up whenever he wanted to.
The fight wasn’t without its moments of bad blood as McCalla and Smith engaged in trash talk and shoving matches after the bell in the middle rounds. However, Smith was never out of control as he sought the knockout. But McCalla simply wouldn’t go away and there were several exciting moments where both fighters threw caution to the wind and let their hands go. But Smith would get off first and last and earn the victory for TMT with scores of 97-93, 97-93 and 98-92.
In the co-main event, Ashley Theophane survived a 10th–round knockdown to take a highly disputed split-decision victory over Mahonri Montes. It wasn’t pretty as Theophane (38-6-1, 11 KOs) was forced to work every minute of every round as Montes (30-5-1, 21 KOs) refused to give him enough room to breathe throughout their 10-round affair.
It has become a disturbing trend in Theophane fights where The Money Team’s junior welterweight always manages to find himself in this controversial territory when it comes to the scorecards and his bout with Montes wasn’t any different. Theophane started off quickly and looked to establish the pace by scoring from a distance but Montes was undeterred and plowed forward in pursuit of ripping punches to Theophane’s body. The strategy nearly paid off as Montes’ aggression and harder punches were slowly wearing on Theophane as the rounds wore on. Theophane used his footwork and a jab to regain control but Montes would remain undeterred.
Montes finally broke the Paddington fighter down in the 9th round and knew he was ripe for the picking in the 10th. However, Theophane was determined to close the deal as he landed several big shots in the final frame. Montes changed all of that as a big right hand in the closing seconds sent the London fighter onto his backside. It wouldn’t matter though, as the end was already spelled out on two scorecards.
There were many close rounds that could have gone either way but two of the three judges preferred Theophane’s activity to Montes’ aggression and more telling blows as two judges saw it 96-93 in favor of Theophane while the third judge had the same score for Montes.