Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage (32-5-0) took to fists with Ishe Smith (25-5-0) for the IBF Junior Middleweight belt on Saturday night in Detroit, MI, home of the champ Bundrage.
The bout started off slow with each man feeling each other out and Smith trying to avoid the awkward back-of-the-head punches thrown by Bundrage. The champion faced an early point deduction in the second round for a seemingly regular tussle.
Smith, consistently trying to avoid Bundrage’s looping hook to the back-of-the-head became more lively as the fight progressed. Both fighters began working the jab, attempting to establish control.
As the fight went on, Smith’s overhand right appeared to connect more, making Bundrage back up to avoid exchanges.
With Smith starting to open up in the middle rounds, Bundrage became the counter puncher. Smith started leading the match, despite Bundrage trying to verbally engage Smith. The right hand of Smith started landing more, catching Bundrage with hits in many exchanges.
The end of ninth round saw a flurry by Smith, catching Bundrage with a combo of punches as well as clash of heads that would lead to a cut above Bundrage’s right eye. Bundrage appeared tired, with Smith bringing the fight to the champ and pushing the fight toward the lead.
In the championship rounds, the 39 year old champ began to liven up a bit, connecting his punches on Smith. Smith would rally to bring the fight back to Bundrage. Both fighters tried to make their case for the bout and set up a final rally. The final and most exciting round, left both fighters realizing it was too close to leave to the cards. With blood over Bundrage’s eye and signs of fatigue, Smith showed the fans in Detroit that he would finish strong.
In a split decision, Smith’s overhand right appeared to be his greatest asset. Along with a strong finish in the final two rounds, Smith did enough to become the new IBF Junior Middleweight champion, overcoming Bundrage’s slow and unimpressive performance. Also noteworthy is that Smith is the first world champion under the new Mayweather Promotions banner.