Monday, May 29, 2023  |


Ishe Smith won’t be Frank Galarza’s stepping stone

Fighters Network

LAS VEGAS – Ishe Smith has been around the block a few times. From a “Contender” on NBC’s short-lived reality series in 2004 to a major 154-pound titleholder in 2013, Smith could retire at the age of 38 and be satisfied with what he has accomplished.

But he’s not.

As a matter of fact, he says he still has more to give. On Friday, Smith (28-8, 12 knockouts) will face Frank Galarza (17-1-2, 11 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card at the Cosmopolitan.

It’s Smith’s opportunity to get back on track after suffering a majority decision loss to Vanes Martirosyan last September. He calls his victory over Tommy Rainone last December a “keep busy fight” and sees Galarza as a stepping-stone to climb back into the title picture.

Galarza is a boxer on his way up. Although he suffered his first loss via knockout to Jarrett Hurd, Galarza has seen his popularity rise with his well-documented backstory. Galarza is looking to make his presence felt on the 154-pound division by adding a former champion to his portfolio but Smith has no intention of being an opponent for any up-and-comer.

“Every fighter takes a fight that they think they can win,” Smith told “He’s been making a lot of noise, talking a lot and saying different things. But I’ve been in this game for so long and I don’t need to talk. The last time he was in the ring he was knocked out so I’m not worried about anything that he says.”

Smith is aware of his position among a growing class of exceptional junior middleweights. As a member of the old guard, a loss will seriously hurt his chances at challenging for another world title. But Smith believes that another victory or two would put him right in the thick of things. And considering the class of fighters he has lost to (Erislandy Lara, Daniel Jacobs, Martirosyan, among others), Smith believes that there’s nothing that Galarza can offer that he hasn’t seen before.

“He’s a decent opponent but if you look at the record with my losses and his wins, you can’t even compare us,” Smith says. “It’s like apples and oranges.”

With the fight being in Vegas, home field advantage appears to be on the mind of Smith, who is 14-2 when fighting in his backyard. And considering that, unlike Galarza, he’s never been knocked out, “Sugar Shay” has no plans to move out of the way for new talent.

“I’ve never been knocked out and the only time I’ve ever touched the canvas was against Vanes Martirosyan,” he says. “He can say that old guys need to move out of the way but I learned a lot from guys like Vernon Forrest, Shane Mosley and other veterans. When I feel like I can’t compete at a high level I’ll know and it will be time to hang the gloves up. But I’m still competing. It’s hard to take advice from anyone who was knocked out.”

It’s been nine months since Smith last fought. And the former champion says the time off served him well. Aside from taking time to break a few bad habits in the ring, Smith says he has focused on his duties being a father and taking care of his family. It’s something he wouldn’t have been able to do if he was busy preparing for multiple fights.

“The time off was needed,” he says. “I had to be a dad. My kids are getting older. I was awarded three of our kids in a custody battle. The mother didn’t want to do her due diligence where we had been sharing custody of the kids for the last seven years. It was new for me to have them full time. I needed the time to get adjusted. It was a new challenge for me. I needed the time to grow as a man and be a dad.”

But now it is back to doing what he has to do to put food on the table. And that means training with the same hunger he had when he started his boxing career 16 years ago. And with the retired Floyd Mayweather Jr. popping in at the gym to make sure his fighter is fine tuned, Smith believes that he’ll add another notch to the win column come Sept. 16.

“I’m going to go out there and show him that there are levels to this and he’s not on my level.”