Nickname: Sugar Shay
Proud Las Vegas, Nevada native Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith is a junior middleweight fighter who carries the burden of boxing excellence on his back having grown up in the boxing mecca of the world.
A talented counter-puncher with first-rate defensive skills, Smith’s professional career began on July 29, 2000 by way of TKO against Jose Meraz in round three of four. He would fight 14 more times before facing Randall Bailey on January 15, 2004 for the vacant WBC Continental Americas welterweight, vacant USBA welterweight, and vacant WBO NABO welterweight titles. Bailey would get knocked down in round two, ultimately solidifying Smith’s UD victory at the Chumash Casino in California. In addition, Smith competed on the first season of popular reality TV show “The Contender” in 2004 and fought 13 more opponents racking up a 23-5 record before he would get his opportunity at distinction.
As a free agent in 2012, Smith would frequent the Mayweather Boxing Gym, often inquiring about opportunities in which he could showcase his talents. His persistence and ambition to realize his potential eventually culminated in a career altering call from famed trainer caretaker at the gym, Cornelius “Boza” Edwards. Boza offered Smith a chance to be Floyd’s sparring partner for his upcoming May 5, 2012 fight against Miguel Cotto. While sparring, Floyd immediately noticed Smith’s boxing acumen, remarking that he didn’t understand how Smith wasn’t a champion already. Soon thereafter, he signed Smith to Mayweather Promotions and promised to get him his shot at boxing glory.
True to Floyd’s word, Smith would get his chance when he faced Conrnelius Bundrage in the IBF Light Middleweight title fight on February 23, 2013 in Detroit. Smith capitalized, winning the bout by UD and making history in the process. “No one can ever take the history we made away, you can rewrite a lot of things, but you cannot rewrite history, we made history on that night in February. I became the first native of Las Vegas to win a world boxing championship,” Smith exclaimed. Nevertheless, being a champ comes with onerous responsibility of defending your belt. Well-credentialed fighter Carlos Molina challenged Smith in a hard-fought brawl for his newly earned title on September 14, 2013 and succeeded by way of split decision. Smith might admit disappointment, but a defeat as close as the one he experienced either makes you quit or makes you stronger; he chose the latter. Although he fought hard in the WBA World Super Welterweight title fight on December 12, 2014, Smith was unable to overcome his opponent Erislandy Lara. Smith didn’t focus on the loss or what could have been. Instead he prepared for his next opportunity. On April 30, 2015, Smith bounced back from his defeat and reigned victorious in the 10-round brawl against Cecil McCalla where he won by unanimous decision. He made two appearances in the ring since his bout against McCalla, the first did not end in his favor when he lost by majority decision against Vanes Martirosyan at the MGM Grand on September 12th, 2015. In true “Sugar Shay” fashion, he once again took that defeat and used it as motivation to come back stronger by stopping his next opponent, Tommy Rainone, by unanimous decision in a 10 round showdown at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, NV on December 18th, 2015.
A devoted Christian who wears Psalm 27 on the back of his trunks as well as on his neck, Smith is inspired by two main goals: to provide for his family and to do Gods work. As a father of six children, he spends his free time partaking in their zest for life or he’s at the local high school coaching youth football acting as agent of change in a young person’s life. Smith says he would be playing soccer or be an endurance jogger – he can run for hours – if he wasn’t a boxer. One might find it interesting that Smith prefers to wear all of his socks inside out. Why you may ask? Because he is certain that they are just more comfortable that way!
In addition, Smith also enjoys giving back to the community and has avidly worked on continuing his charity work over the years—a commitment earning him his own city-wide day of service. On February 23, 2013, Ishe Smith was advised by Regina Coward-Holman of the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and President of the Black Police Association that, on behalf of the City of Las Vegas, that February 23rd would officially be named “Ishe ‘Sugar Shay’ Smith Day. Ever since, Smith devotes his day to servicing the community.
Presently, Ishe Smith is trained by Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and is confident that the momentum he has forged thus far will yield even more opportunities that boxing historians will inscribe into their books.