Detroit’s own Cornelius “K9” Bundrage is defending his IBF Junior Middleweight World Championship against Las Vegas’ Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith. It’s a long time coming for “K9”, stagnated for years due to promotional obligations to Don King. Forced to fight the same recycled fighters in the dwindling Don King’s stable Cornelius Bundrage has been able to stay afloat and stay just relevant enough to be a notable champion.
A new day has come, fresh out of his boxing/slave contract and done with King, Bundrage at age 39 is able to see a silver lining thanks to Golden Boy Promotions. Bundrage was the beneficiary of a once big time promoter turns small fry due to lack of marquee names in his promotional stable. With no big names, no leverage to television dates, no television dates equals to fighters on hiatus, Bundrage has been off television for 80% of his career.
Thankfully for Bundrage, Golden Boy was securing as many Jr. Middleweights as humanly possible, in hopes of monopolizing the division for their cash cow, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The wheels have been in motion now for some time, showing their first signs of interest in Bundrage back in June 30, 2012 when they won a purse bid for the rights to promote Bundrage vs. Spinks II. That gesture, a sign of good faith, was more than enough to get the attention of Bundrage; soon realizing a brighter horizon was around the corner.
Bundrage now promoted by Golden Boy and being treated as a champion should, is being show cased not only on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING®, but also in his hometown of DETROIT, MI, at The Masonic Temple Theatre. “When it was time to decide who I was going to fight, I went to Golden Boy [Promotions] and they presented me with several fighter names. They mentioned James Kirkland, Alfredo Angulo, and Ishe Smith. It was special with Ishe because not only did they say I could fight him, but they said I could fight him in Detroit. That was an easy decision for me to make and now we are here,” explained Bundrage.
The questioning of one’s opponents is something that goes without saying amongst fans, but even the most hardcore fan cannot be entirely upset with Bundrage’s choice in Smith. Smith has had some tough breaks in the sport but always staying true to his craft and making a tough fight for whoever has stood across from him in the ring. “I had to look up Ishe Smith and guess what, he has some flaws. I won’t really say much about that because I’m not that type of guy. The closer it gets to a fight, the less I talk and by fight week, I barely say a word,” stated Bundrage.
Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (24-5, 11 KO’s) has battled the best for years, scoring wins over the likes of Randall Bailey, Alfonso Gomez, David Estrada and Pawel Wolak. Like Bundrage, Smith was a member on the first season of “The Contender”. The 34-year-old Smith captivated the nation in and out of the ring. After decision losses at middleweight to top prospects Danny Jacobs (a title fight) and Fernando Guerrero (a lose Smith still feels he won) , Smith has run off three straight wins, proving that at 154 pounds, he is a dangerous force to be reckoned with.
This will be an all action affair as Smith likes to fight on the inside and Bundrage is a big puncher. “I see him as a good opponent for me. I never look to fight bums. I always want to fight the best. I am a dog in that ring and trust me when I say I’m coming to bring it,” expressed Bundrage.
Riding high off his spectacular knockout win over Spinks, his last time on Showtime, Bundrage looks to continue in sensational fashion, in hopes of landing the “Golden Ticket” in Saul Canelo Alvarez. “I feel like a little Mike Tyson. I am coming to get it. When I was in the hood, I used to take from people. On February 23, he won’t be taking anything from me.”