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Ishe Smith Faces Tougest Test Yet in Bailey
Jan 15, 2004 By Brent Hedtke ( Photo © Mary Ann Owen )
Las Vegas has long been referred to as the Mecca of boxing. Many titles have been won and lost in Sin City and millions of dollars change hands yearly. But unlike other famous fight cities such as New York, Detroit and Philadelphia, Las Vegas has never laid claim to breeding champions. Tonight, welterweight prospect Ishe "Sugar Shay" Smith (13-0 7 KO's) looks to take another step towards changing that. The Sin City native will first have to get past former two time world champion Randall Bailey (27-3 26 KO's) in a Showtime televised fight for the vacant USBA and WBC Continental Americas welterweight title.

In boxing circles, Ishe Smith is known as the best sparring partner money
can buy. He's worked with Fernando Vargas and most recently with Shane
Mosley in preparation for his rematch with Oscar De La Hoya. But Smith is
on a quest to prove that it is he that is the main event and 13 fights into
his career he is on the right track.

Sugar Shay is coming off his best year since turning pro in July of 2000.
This past year saw him take a huge step up in opponents and his undefeated
record reflects his success against each of them.

He started off his 2003 campaign with a bang by winning a lopsided decision
(100-90, 100-90, and 99-91) over former world title challenger Sam Garr in
April. Smith controlled the fight from the opening bell by using his
thumping jab and his lighting fast foot speed.

Just two months later he scored a second round KO of veteran Sal Lopez.
Lopez went down from a left hook to the body that left him gasping for air
like a fish out of water. By dropping Lopez early, Smith showed that he has
the power to go along with his quick hands and mobile feet.

In July he faced undefeated challenger David Estrada. Many felt that
Estrada would be Sugar Shay's stiffest challenge. Though Estrada was game,
he was no match for the quicker and stronger Smith. After ten rounds, Smith
was rewarded a one sided unanimous decision over Estrada.

Tonight though, he faces his toughest test to date against Randall Bailey.
Bailey scored a first round KO of Carlos Gonzalez in May of 1999 to win the
WBO jr. welterweight title.
He defended it three times before losing a razor thin decision to Ener Julio
in July of 2000.

He captured the vacant WBA title with a third round TKO of Demetrio Ceballos
in February 2002. He was then knocked out in the seventh round of his
unification bout with Diosbelys Hurtado.

Since the loss to Hurtado in May of 2002, he has gone 2-1, scoring a first
round TKO of Alfonso Fowler but dropping a 12 round decision to Demarcus
"Chop Chop" Corley in January of 2003. Most recently he won a unanimous
eight round decision to 16 year veteran Reggie Strickland who at the time
posed a record of 60-247-15.

Bailey is currently ranked #8 by the WBA but many feel he is on the downside
of his career. That being said, his experience will be his biggest ally
against the younger and quicker Smith. Sugar Shay will be looking to
impress and will come out very aggressive. Bailey will have to use his jab
to keep Smith on the outside. If Bailey can take Smith into the deep waters
his chances increase greatly. Having only fought into the 10th round twice
in his career, Smith is at a disadvantage to Bailey's eight years of
professional experience.

If his last fight is any indication of the pace at which he is improving,
Sugar Shay should be a favored to win. Don't count Bailey out though. He
is a former champion and would like nothing more than to attach that title
to his moniker once again. For Smith, a victory over the highly regarded
Bailey would catapult him into contender status. For Bailey, this is a
chance to get another shot at being a world champion by scoring a victory
over the best welterweight prospect out there.

If I had money, I'd bet on Smith by a 5th round KO. But I could see a close
decision victory for Bailey as well. Regardless of the outcome, this
promises to be an action packed fight and great night of boxing.

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