February, 20, 2013
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com
Tom Casino/ShowtimeCornelius "K9" Bundrage may have the edge if Saturday's fight with Ishe Smith turns into a brawl.
Junior middleweight titlist Cornelius "K9" Bundrage (32-4, 19 KOs) will defend his title in his hometown of Detroit at the Masonic Temple Theatre against Las Vegas' Ishe Smith (24-5, 11 KOs) on Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT).
A number of fighters are interested in facing the winner, including titleholder Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs), who would like to unify belts with the victor; contender Alfredo Angulo (22-2, 18 KOs); looming mandatory challenger Carlos Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs); and up-and-comer Jermell Charlo (20-0, 10 KOs).
So how do they see the fight unfolding? Showtime gathered their predictions:
Trout: "I think this is going to be a good old-fashioned brawl. Ishe has more technical skills than 'K9,' but he still likes to bang it out. I really don't know who to pick, but it will be a good fight between two guys who are both kind of inactive, up in age and evenly matched. I'll be tuned in and watching, but I have no personal interest in who wins. I respect both fighters; they are men of God. I'll respect the winner even more if he's willing to unify the belts. If one guy has an edge, I think it's probably Ishe more than 'K9.' But good luck to whoever wins, and let's unify."
Angulo: "I'll be watching because these are two important fighters in my weight class in a world title fight. One of them [Bundrage] holds the IBF title, and the other might be the new titleholder. The outcome could affect my career, so it's important for me to watch this fight. As for picking a winner, I don't have a preference either way. Both are talented, yet have contrasting and distinct styles. One is more of a technical fighter [Smith], the other is a brawler [Bundrage], so it should make for a very interesting fight. I think a lot will depend on Ishe's condition and if he can handle the pressure, because K9 throws punches with a lot of power and a lot of fighters can't handle that."
Molina: "I plan on attending the fight and look forward to watching. I'm the mandatory challenger in the IBF for whoever wins, so I'm hoping to be fighting the winner. Really, I just want my first world title shot. It's what I've worked for my whole career. It doesn't matter to me who wins as long as there's no controversy. I wish them both the best. They're both good people. Ishe said I deserve the title shot and he would fight me next if he wins. 'K9' has not been as committal. Still, this is a tough fight to predict. Smith is a good boxer, and I expect he'll be boxing more and using his defense. 'K9' is a slugger whose style is to be aggressive, go right after Smith and try to land something early. If Ishe is more aggressive, he can win a decision."
Charlo: "There will be a lot of competent fighters in this weight class who'll have their eyes glued to the TV for this one. The main reason I'll be watching is to see who will win. I'm anxious to see if Ishe actually made the changes to his style and, if so, if they made him better. I suppose I'm rooting for Ishe because 'K9' turned me down for a fight before, after I thought it was a 95-percent done deal. If he wins I'm pretty sure he'd turn me down again. Ishe is a guy with a lot of heart who comes to fight. Who knows whether, if he won the title, that he would fight me, but I'd be willing. As for a flat-out prediction, I see it going either way but have a feeling someone's going to get caught with a good shot. At his age and the route he's been going, I can see Bundrage winning if it goes the distance. But I see Ishe, who doesn't get knocked out and is more of a boxer than 'K9,' coming along. It's very possible he can win by KO. My pick is Ishe by KO, but Bundrage if it goes the distance."