By Lindy Lindell
Photos: Bob Ryder
The Last time Cornelius “K-9” Bundrage showed up for a big fight in the Motown area, he was seen holding the ropes open for his then-promoter Don King. Many thought that it was a shame that Detroit’s only world champion (then as now) could only carry around his IBF Championship belt while King, who co-promoted the 2011 Silverdome show to principally put on his then-WBC Welterweight Champ Devon Alexander.
Bundrage was wearing a flamboyant fur coat that night, but he was left out in the brutal cold of that February show. Ironically, King promotes neither Alexander nor Bundrage any more. Golden Boy has got them both.
Golden Boy announced today in a Motown press conference held in the foyer of the Masonic Temple, a venerable building dating from the 1920s that has featured the biggest of rock groups in its 4500-capacity auditorium, but heretofore only small boxing cards in recent years in smaller auditorium. With the returning Alexander on top defending his recently won IBF World Title on top versus the undefeated Brit Kell Brook, Bundrage will get his wish to fight in his home town against a foe with whom he is very familiar.
Both Bundrage and Smith were principles in the notorious Contender show in 2004/5. Ishe Smith wasn’t getting along with too many people in those days and whether or not by design or for “real”, Smith seemed to be carrying around a chip on his shoulder that made for some pretty good television. No longer. At the press conference today, Smith wanted to make it clear that he had let those bad vibes slide and seemed genuinely thankful that, with the major help of his new management team, Mayweather Productions, he is, at 34, after a career that seemed to be going nowhere, thankful that he was getting an opportunity for a world title fight.
Bundrage, amid much barking (now a staple announcing he’s in the room), seemed full of himself. He told members of the press that in considering opponents (James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo) were mentioned, or, if he wanted to fight in his hometown of Detroit and fight Ishe Smith, the choice was really an easy one. Although just shy of the big four-oh, Bundrage is surprisingly fresh, has stopped indulging in those blunts for some time now, and having had just one fight a year over the last four years, ready to roar, or, more characteristically, ready to sound out the barks. At the podium, after praising practically everyone in the room, including a shout-out to Thomas Hearns, he got caught up in the moment and bellowed into the mike as he looked toward Smith, “I’M GOING TO CRUSH THAT MAN RIGHT THERE!”
It’s a good matchup: one man’s quiet determination, tantilizing lefthanded slants, and having never been kayoed against the bombs-away approach of the local Kronk favorite. Smith v. Bundrage in Motown Feburary 23 on Showtime Boxing.
Also on the same show is an intriguing pairing of the classic old vet in the person of Bronco McKart versus the young up and comer in J’Leon Love. Both were very respectful towards each other at today’s press conference yet at the same time exuded confidence in their ability to prevail over the other. We shall see, but more times than not, it’s the young man who comes out on top in this type of match up.
This exciting evening of world championship boxing is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions in association with Matchroom Boxing and is sponsored by Corona, AT&T and MGM Grand Detroit. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) with preliminary fights to air live on SHOWTIME Extreme at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
Tickets priced at $200, $125, $100, $75, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and services charges, go on sale Wednesday, January 30 at noon ET and will be available for purchase at the Masonic Temple box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000.