By Sam Geraci
Photos: Bob Ryder
On Saturday in Detroit, Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (25-5, 11 KOs) became the first fighter under Mayweather Promotions and the first Las Vegas born fighter to win a world title when he defeated Cornelius “K-9″ Bundrage (32-5, 19 KOs) by majority decision for the 154lb IBF title. Despite Smith’s achievement and several attempts by Mayweather and his publicist, Kelly Swanson of Swanson Communications, to focus the discussion on Smith, like the pre-fight press conference, the weigh-in, Showtime’s telecast and most things “boxing” for the last two weeks, the post-fight press conference was all about Floyd and the world of The Money Team.
In fact, at the start of the press conference, Mayweather said it best.
“I think Floyd Mayweather like to do it all: train fighters, boxer, promoter. I’m the face of boxing.”
While it is true that Mayweather has been the face of boxing since he defeated Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, it is also true that there has been a marked change in the public presentation of that “face” since his August 3rd release from Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas. In the post-fight press conference, this new presentation was most evident when he was asked about his relationship with rapper 50 Cent.
“If there’s something negative, I prefer it not to be in front of me. I like to talk about things that is positive because I’m at a different place in my life,” Mayweather added, “I served the time. I’m no different than somebody else. I have good days and I have bad days, but today is a great day.”
In addition to focusing on the positive, the “New Mayweather” is clearly making an effort to articulate his legacy and the legacy of The Money Team.
“The Mayweather brand lives on. When I’m long gone, the Mayweather brand will live on.” Mayweather later added, “The Money Team don’t consist of just cash money. It’s more like we’re a family, and it’s enough money to go around.”
Mayweather’s message of family and sharing continued when he responded to questions about his relationship with twenty-three year old 135lb kingpin Adrien “The Problem” Broner.
“That’s what it’s about. It’s about passing the torch. I always tell Broner, “Daniel-San never went against Mr. Miyagi,’” Mayweather added, “He’s under the Golden Boy Promotion banner, but he’s a friend of mine so I only want the best for him.”
Although Mayweather emphasized the theme of sharing and expressed that there is “enough money to around,” late in the post-fight press conference, Mayweather asserted his mission and acumen as a promoter, which sounded a lot like the other top promoters of the sport.
“The challenger made more than the champion tonight. That’s got to do with your team. I’m going to go to the end for someone who is behind me and works for me.”
When Smith finally took the podium, he was asked how he thought he would be received as the first Las Vegas native to win a world title. His response was emotional and honest and hinted at the possibility that Mayweather Promotions might actually resemble what Mayweather had been detailing for the first twenty minutes of the post-fight press conference.
“I hope it is received for all the people who have struggled in life. I’ve told the story and I’ll tell it again. No more pay day loans. No more title loans. I’ve done it all,” Smith continued, “There’s been some really dark times in my life. If it wasn’t for Floyd—as soon as he got out of jail he came to the gym and gave me some money and said, ‘take care.’
Smith then went on to explain that Mayweather, unlike other promoters for whom he has worked, has never asked for any of that money back and has been up front with how much money he is going to receive for each fight.
In addition to expressing the Mayweather and Money Team Mantra of sharing and loyalty to Mayweather, Smith also commented briefly on potential opponents.
“Carlos Molina is a good fighter. He’s had some tough breaks, so I’d like to give him a shot, but I definitely have to rest this rib.”
Although Smith expressed that he is open to fighting Molina after he recovers from a rib injury that occurred two weeks before the fight, earlier in the post-fight press conference Mayweather, like a true promoter, expressed that is “safe to say” that Smith should take some easier fights in order to build his popularity before taking on a real challenge.
Although Bundrage was absent from the post-fight-press conference because he was getting “stitched up,” Mayweather and Smith were complimentary of his performance and toughness. Smith did, however, express confusion over Bundrage’s decision to avoid fighting during the middle rounds.
“I was thinking in my mind, ‘what the hell is he running for?’ I was thinking he was gonna push the fight and that was gonna be me.” Smith added, “Maybe he hurt something.”
Smith also expressed that he felt that Bundrage was just too muscular to make it beyond the fifth round.
Towards the end of the conference, Smith was asked about the tribute to Diego Corrales on his trunks, and he responded by honoring two of his best friends, Diego Corrales and Vernon Forrest.
“I always like to pay tribute to those guys because they did a lot when I was coming up in the game,” Smith continued, “They gave me the opportunity to fight on their undercards.”
Although Smith’s victory over Bundrage wasn’t incredibly impressive and certainly didn’t establish him as one of the top fighters at 154 pounds, it was a significant and inspiring win for Las Vegas, the future of Mayweather Promotions, The Money Team and those, like Smith, who have managed to overcome adversity in order to keep punching.