Monday, 25 February 2013

Cornelius Bundrage v Ishe Smith

In the biggest win of his career so far, the talented but yet under-rated Ishe Smith (25-5, 11) claimed the IBF Light Middleweight title as he claimed a split decision over former champion Cornelius "K9" Bundrage (32-5-0-1, 19).

The fight, which started slowly as the styles  really clashed, wasn't pretty by any stretch of the imagination though it was often engaging, even if it was in hope of seeing a clean, solid punch land from either man. Despite the slow pace of much of the fight, the better, classier work came from Smith when the challenger decided to open up against the defending champion.

Despite the slow start the fight finally came alive late on as a tired Bundrage started to come under real pressure from Smith, who wasn't going to be denied in his big chance. Although Smith couldn't put away the champion he appeared to clearly dominate vast swathes of the fight, notably the final 6 rounds after the 6 messy opening rounds.

Whilst many viewers felt that Smith was the clear winner, one judge, Dave Hess, seemed to feel that Bundrage had done just enough to retain his title, an opinion not even shared by Bundrage who admitted that he lost fair and square. Whilst Bundrage admitted he made a tactical mistake not following the game plan, an emotional Smith cried in relief at his crowning glory to a 13 year career.

For Bundrage, who had been champion since dethroning Cory Spinks back in 2010, this is likely the end of the line. Aged 39 (and turning 40 in just a few weeks) there is little to really achieve, in fact in all honesty Bundrage was an over-achiever scoring wins over Walter Wright, Michael Clark, Kassim Ouma, Zaurbek Baysangurov and Cory Spinks (twice) and can hold his head up high after having had an excellent career.

Smith on the other hand may well look to cash in on his title and try to look for fights with either the winner of the upcoming Saul "Canelo" Alvarez v Austin Trout bout or even try to lure Miguel Cotto into a bout. Though it's unlikely Smith would do enough to defend against any of those men.

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