Ishe Smith Sends K9 to the Doghouse

By Robert Ecksel on February 24, 2013
Ishe Smith Sends K9 to the Doghouse
Sugar Shay fought back against Cornelius Bundrage, but his tears flowed like muscatel.

The fight wasn’t pretty, but no K9 fight is pretty. One doesn’t watch Bundrage to revel in his skills but in his heart and bruising nature…

Saturday night from the Masonic Temple in Detroit, Michigan, Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (25-5, 11 KOs), ranked #14 by the IBF, defeated defending champion Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (32-5, 19 KOs) by split decision to win the IBF light middleweight title.

Fighting out of the red corner in camouflage trunks, the 34-year-old Smith, who in 13 years of fighting never seemed to catch a break, had Lady Luck riding shotgun in Motown and became the first boxer ever born in Las Vegas to win a major title.

Bundrage, fighting out of the red corner in silver trunks with blue trim in front of his hometown fans, came to fight and fought his fight, but he ran out of gas early and allowed Smith to dictate the pace.

As the 39-year-old Bundrage began to fade, Smith came on strong. He was busier. But he was also hungrier. He was landing more punches and the harder punches and forced K9 to get on his bicycle. This was Smith’s first title opportunity and he knew that, if he lost, he would likely never get another chance.

By the final bell it was clear, insofar as anything in boxing is ever clear, that the IBF, no less than the sweet science, had a new champ.

The fight wasn’t pretty, but no K9 fight is pretty. One doesn’t watch Bundrage to revel in his skills but in his heart and bruising nature. He may have had a bad night (all of us have had a bad night) while Smith had a good one (some of us have had a good one). But the judges, faced with a difficult fight to score, this time got it right. They had it 116-111 twice for Smith and 114-113 for Bundrage.

Two out of three ain’t bad.

The referee Sam Williams, like Cornelius Bundrage, has had better nights. He took a point from K9 in the second round for hitting Sugar Shay when he was down, but failed to acknowledge how he happened to get there. Then, after stopping the action to announce that a point had been deducted, he failed to indicate which fighter he was deducting the point from.

It’s a good thing referees no longer judge fights.

Some have written that Ishe Smith was fighting back tears in his post-fight interview. Nothing could be further from the truth. He fought back against K9, but his tears flowed like muscatel.

“Thirteen years, man,” he sobbed. “That’s all I can say. It means everything. Five years ago I was about to kill myself and I thought about my children growing up without a dad and I didn’t do it. I don’t know what to say. I didn’t think I’d be here. I’m so happy for the opportunity.

“I got hurt in camp and Floyd asked me if I wanted to pull out, but I knew I couldn’t give up. This was my chance to become a world champion.”

The fight was on Showtime, whose newest signee is Ishe Smith’s promoter, mentor and friend Floyd Mayweather. Once can’t fault Showtime for turning the broadcast into a part-time infomercial, complete with lavish praise, horn-tooting, and a birthday cake in the shape of a thousand dollar bill with Floyd’s picture replacing that of President Grover Cleveland. There were also, if I’m not mistaken, too many interviews with Money May to count. (The most revealing thing Mayweather said was, “I’m not going to put any money in Bob Arum’s pocket.” So much for “take the test” and the Two Commandments that Pacquiao needs to beat Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez before Floyd will consider fighting him.) Yes, Showtime may have gone a bit overboard, but under the circumstances who can blame them?

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Bundrage vs. Smith Recap - SHOWTIME Boxing - Ishe Smith, Cornelius K9 Bundrage

Discuss this in our forums

Related Articles


This is a place to express and/or debate your boxing views. It is not a place to offend anyone. If we feel comments are offensive, the post will be deleted and continuing offenders will be blocked from the site. Please keep it clean and civil! We want to have fun. We want some salty language and good-natured exchanges. But let's keep our punches above the belt...
  1. pugknows 04:54pm, 03/02/2013

    I’d like to see him fight Cotto.

  2. NYIrish 01:39pm, 02/27/2013

    It was what used to be a good club fight. Bundrage showed every day of his age. Neither one looks like a champion.

  3. raxman 07:01pm, 02/24/2013

    bk - the loser of canelo vs trout can’t possibly go back to fighting the same born to lose opponents they faced - well for canelo before trout. i must admit i don’t know what sort of money k9 has earned for his last few fights but i imagine getting battered by a top guy would pay more than fighting ishe smith. obviously bundrage used his title to leverage tv fights, which is exactly why he, like 90% of titilists, protect their belts. but now that is gone what is left for him to do but cash in on being a former title holder. he then becomes the safe, yet with some sort of pedigree opponent for either rising guys or risen from the ashes ones. all things being even trout out boxes canelo and wins by decision (although things are not often even) who could canelo fight that wouldnt look as bad as - well the worse thing i can think of is GGG fighting isihida - but his fight vs mosley and lopez are pretty bad. so once he loses that 0 can he afford to fight that sort of opposition or wouldn’t his opponent need some more recent credibility. but my whole take on this probably has less to do with the limited interest i have in k9 and more to do with the disdain i have for hype machine canelo

  4. bk don 06:41pm, 02/24/2013

    Hmm…I actually don’t agree w/you raxman. I think bundrage is not the kind of fighter a top tier guy wants to face. He has no profile, is a very awkward fighter and often times employs roughhouse tactics. If anything, the only reason he was getting fights on network tv is b/c he had a belt. His style isn’t the least bit pleasing to watch though and can’t imagine a major network, or even minor one, having him on the air, even as an opponent. On another note, that fight was horrible to watch. I cried like ishe during, just hoping there would be a headbutt or something to just end the thing.

  5. raxman 01:48pm, 02/24/2013

    i reckon K9 becomes the perfect opponent for the loser of canelo vs trout to reblood himself on without it looking too bad. he could actually get some decent paydays now he doesn’t have the title to protect

  6. the thresher 11:13am, 02/24/2013

    He is done and he is smart enough to know it.

  7. Clarence George 10:37am, 02/24/2013

    Where does Bundrage go from here?  Is there anywhere for him to go?  He’s had a decent career, and he should seriously consider retirement.  Hell, he’s going to be 40 in a couple of months.  Who does he think he is, Jersey Joe Walcott?

  8. the thresher 08:10am, 02/24/2013

    Talk about the thrill of victory. Wow!

Leave a comment