Fernando Guerrero & Ishe Smith: Pre-Fight Face-Off Interview

by Geoffrey Ciani - This weekís 81st edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured exclusive interviews with middleweights Fernando Guerrero (18-0, 15 KOs) and Ishe Smith (21-4, 9 KOs). Guerrero and Smith are set to do battle on the SHOBOX main event this Friday, July 16. In a day and age where trash-talk is far too common in boxing it was a breath of fresh air hearing two athletes engage in a civil discussion about their upcoming fight. Both pugilists share a mutual respect for each other as evidenced by their sportsmanlike conduct. Professionals both inside and outside the ring, this one has the potential for a lot of fireworks. Here is a complete transcript of what Guerrero and Smith had to say about their upcoming bout.

JENNA J: Alright everybody, we are back with our first guest for this weekís show. We have Isheís Smith on the verge of taking on Fernando Guerrero. Howís it going today, Ishe?

ISHE SMITH: Hey, howís it going? Iím doing good, I canít complain.

JENNA: So youíre taking on an undefeated middleweight challenger, heís 18-0. What have you seen from Fernando Guerrero and what do you expect?

SMITH: I expect him to be ready. At this stage, everybody you fight should be ready and trained so I expect him to be ready. Heís young, heís undefeated, and itís going to be a good fight. So I expect to see the best Fernando Guerrero on Friday and youíll see the best Ishe Smith so it should be very exciting.

JENNA: Now youíre no stranger to facing off against undefeated middleweights. You faced, in your last fight, Daniel Jacobs and you lost a ten round decision. Can you tell us what went on in that bout and what you think you can improve on from there to take into this bout?

SMITH: Well, the Daniel Jacobs fight was a good interesting fight. As you could see he was the bigger man. I was coming up from 154 and I had five weeks to train and he was the one backing up. I had him hurt a couple of times but Danny is a terrific fighter and he got the decision, but it was a tough fight for him. It was his toughest fight. Heís fighting for a title now and we learned a lot from that fight. There are some little things that we worked on in camp that we didnít execute on, well I didnít execute on. This time weíve had about two months to train so this camp has been my best camp since Iíve been a professional. This fight is going to be a very good fight, a very good coming out party for me and for my team and weíre just excited to go.

JENNA: Speaking of your opposition Fernando Guerrero, he is in fact on the line with us right now. Howís it going today, Fernando?

FERNANDO GUERRERO: Hey, how are you doing?

JENNA: Hey, weíre happy to have you on the show. Weíre also joined by Ishe Smith. Howís your training gone?

GUERRERO: My training is going great. Weíre just doing the right stuff and just training as hard as we can and taking this fight very seriously.

JENNA: Well Ishe Smith is the toughest guy that you have yet to face in your career. Can you tell us what you have seen from him and what you expect?

GUERRERO: Well I expect for Ishe Smith to be ready. Heís been at this place before and I think that itís going to be an exciting fight. I think that youíre going to see a lot of good action and Ishe Smith seems like heís an action-packed guy and I think itís going to be greatógreat for the viewers.

JENNA: Alright now Ishe, this fight is obviously at middleweight. Now is this the division you intend to stay at?

SMITH: Yeah, it seems that I can only get fights there from guys that are willing to step up and fight me like Daniel Jacobs and Fernando. At my weight, I canít really get a lot of guys that will step up to the plate. A lot of guys are looking to try and maneuver to get title fights and stuff like that. I can fluctuate between the two. Itís no problem, but Iím definitely getting more comfortable at 160. I may fluctuate between the two weight classes and see what happens, but right now in my mind Iím a 160 pounder.

JENNA: Alright. Now Fernando, obviously I talked to you before about what youíve seen in Ishe. What do you think is the most important thing you have to do to be successful against him?

GUERRERO: Well I think that I just got to do the same thing that I do. Iíll just counter whatever he does. I think Iím a complete fighter as in like I can bang, and I prefer to bang a lot of times, but if you want to box I could also box. All Iím going to do is follow my cornerís instructions. Whatever they tell me to do, thatís what Iím going to do.

JENNA: Now heís taking into the ring a significant experience advantage over you. Are you at all worried that heís going to pull some veteran moves in there? Itís a tough challenge for you.

GUERRERO: No, I think itís going to be a clean fight. I think with Ishe, of course heís been on Showtime before and he seems like an honorable guy. Itís just going to be the best guy is going to win. I donít think anybody is going to pull any tricks. I think Ishe and I we have tricks up our sleeves or whatever, but if you really are talented you donít need them.

JENNA: Now Ishe, do you have some surprises for Fernando that he hasnít seen you take into the ring before that youíre going to show him on Friday?

SMITH: You know what, I think both campsóhis camp was probably orchestrated at a high degree and I know mine was orchestrated at a high degree. I think this is a very important fight for me and I think heís taking the fight very seriously as well. I think whatever happens in the ring on Friday, as far as tricks and all of that, itís going to be a great fight. Thatís what the fans should tune in for. As he said, it will be a great action-packed fight.

JENNA: Guys, weíre also joined by my co-host Geoff Ciani. Geoff.

GEOFFREY CIANI: Hello Fernando. Hello Ishe. Iíd like to welcome Fernando back to the show and welcome Ishe. Thank you both for coming on, gentlemen.

GUERRERO: Thank you for having us.

SMITH: Thank you.

CIANI: Iím going to ask both of you guys the same question here and Iím going to start with Fernando. Fernando, what part of your game do you think you will bring into the ring with you that will most surprise Ishe Smith?

GUERRERO: I donít think that heís faced a person so determined like I am. I think that Iím just so eager to be a crowd pleaser and just do the right thing. I think a lot of time when Ishe fights, itís not really what the spectators want to see. With me, I think that I will push it a little harder like other people havenít done.

CIANI: Now Ishe, Iím going to ask you the same question. What about your game do you think will most surprise Fernando Guerrero come fight night?

SMITH: Well I donít think heís ever fought someone with my capabilities. I donít think heís been in there with the experience. Iíve fought guys with undefeated records before. I fought Pawel Wolak who tried o push the action the whole night and he got seriously outboxed and I was picked to lose that fight. I fought David Estrada who was undefeated at the time and took the fight out of him. I do what I have to do to win. Whether there is criticism about action, action is action. Heís never faced anybody of my caliber. Iíve been here and done that. Iíve swam. Iíve been ten, Iíve been twelve, Iíve faced some very tough opposition in my career. Even with Daniel Jacobs who is now going on to fight for a title. Even with Joel Julio who escaped with a razor close decision. Like I said, Iíve been in there with some of the strongest punchers in the game. Even Randall Bailey, theyíve all either lost or they havenít really done enough to win or Iíve beaten them severely. So Iíve been there and done that. Iíve fought the best that was given to me, besides like a Shane Mosley or an Oscar De La Hoya, the champions at the top of boxing. But Iíve fought the best that has been offered to me. I never turned down anything, I never ducked anybody. Iíve sparred with some of the best and Iím ready. Come Friday weíre going to see whether the young manís ready or not.

CIANI: Now Ishe, when I asked Fernando the question about what surprises he thought he would bring into the ring he said that he didnít think you were as determined as he is. Do you think thatís true?

SMITH: Oh no, not at all. I think my determination was a little bit over determined against Daniel Jacobs and I got away from the game plan. As you saw, he was hurt several times and when have you really seen Daniel Jacobs on his way to going down? Now heís fighting for a world championship here in a few weeks. So no, not at all, I think Iím very determined and I fought determined guys and Iíve taken that determination out of them. I fought probably one of the best pound for pound punchers in our generation in Randall Bailey, who probably doesnít get enough credit for his power. In twenty-five pro fights Iíve never touched the matt and never been hurt so Iím very determined. I think this is very important for my career and my legacy and Iíve taken every fight seriously, even the Daniel Jacobs fight. So weíll see Friday. Weíll see if heís ready. I know Iím ready. Weíre going to come out and itís going to be a terrific fight, but Iím ready.

CIANI: Now Fernando, when I asked Ishe what surprises heís going to bring in to the ring for you, he basically said that youíve never fought anybody with his experience and that youíve never been in there with a fighter of his caliber. Do you think that is true?

GUERRERO: Well, not necessarily. I think that as an upcoming prospect Iíve fought the guys that I was supposed to be fighting. Even Gabriel Rosado, he beat a terrific, terrific opponent and I fought a very durable guy in (Ossie) Duran who has a similar style to Ishe. I also fought Michael Walker, which it doesnít really matter, itís not my fault that I trained really, really hard and I knocked him out because he gave Daniel a tough fight and I destroyed him in two. Not taking anything away from Daniel or Ishe but thatís what you get from working hard. Ishe mentioned that he fought the best opponents and all that stuff, and thatís real good. I feel like he did, he fought some real tough opponents but coming up right now I feel like Iím the best right now. I donít care who I fight. I think with this fight right now, it just feels good. It feels right. Ishe fought a lot of good opponents and Iím going to fight for a world title soon. Heís in the way right now and heís the one that I need to fight right now and we just got to overcome that.

JENNA: Guys, besides Geoff and myself weíre also joined my co-host Nick Powers.

NICK POWERS: Hey guys. Itís a pleasure to have both of you on at the same time. I think this might be an OTR first having both fighters on right before their fight. The first question I wanted to ask is to Fernando. Now youíre the younger fighter in this fight, youíre only 23 years old and you hold the coveted undefeated record or the ď0Ē as so many boxing fans refer to it as. Being that your level of competition is increasing and youíre still a young fighter, how important is it for you to keep that zero on your record and remain undefeated? Or is it something that you definitely donít think about and you really just want to progress as a fighter and learn as much as you can?

GUERRERO: Itís as important as any other fight. I never think about losing. I know that it happens but I donít want a loss. I want to grow up as one of the best fighters ever. I donít take anybody lightly and I think a fight is a fight and I just donít think about losing. Thatís why I train so hard. Thatís why we go up into high altitude training and we do whatever we need to do. Iím not going to look over to Ishe and say that I donít think heís that good. No. For me right now, I trained for Ishe like itís a world title fight because I am defending my belt and whichever belt I have is important. So itís my world title fight right now. Thatís my mentality.

POWERS: My next question is for Ishe. Fernando mentioned one of the things he does, high altitude training, which is also a staple of trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad who you work with. Being that a guy like Eddie has worked with so many great fighters, heís currently with Chad Dawson and heís worked with guys like James Toney and Iran Barkley in the past, and now the fact that youíre working with him. How integral is his thinking process and his motivation for you in the gym to help you progress in the training camp to the fight?

SMITH: Itís been good. Iíve been with Eddie for about two years and weíve had a lot of success. I think Iím 2-1 or 3-1 with Eddie. Eddieís a great guy. Heís a good coach. Iíve had some of the best sparring Iíve had in a very long time working for this camp. For me, everythingís been perfect. With high altitude training, weíve been there, done that. Vegas is just a high altitude place in general, more so than anywhere like back east or down south. Itís just high in general. Weíre ready. I mean weíve done the right things. Weíve had some great sparring partners. I couldnít ask for any better sparring than I possibly had. Even finishing up today, itís been great. Like I said, Iím ready man. Itís going to be a good fight. This is going to be my best performance so Iím ready.

JENNA: Something you guys have mentioned is that the winner of this fight can go on to a title shot. Now Iím going to ask each of you and Iíll first ask Fernando, do you think if you win this fight against Ishe Smith that you will be ready in your next bout to take on a champion?

GUERRERO: Well the thing is that Iím the fighter. I only think about fighting. If it was up to me I would think that I would be ready right now. The thing is, I listen to my managers and my coaches and my whole circle. They tell me to just be patient, itís going to happen. So Iím just waiting for that time when it does happen. I donít really have a set date. Whenever it comes, Iím training for a world title right now so even if this was, then it would have been right now.

JENNA: Now Ishe, youíre 31 years old. You have yet to get a title shot. Youíve been in there with a lot of guys that went on to become champion. Do you think that if you win this bout that that should be your next bout, a title fight?

SMITH: Listen, Iíll take whatever DiBella has or whatever they come up with is great. Iíll put it in Godís hands. Whatever future that God has planned for me that is what Iíll do. This fight came about when the Kassim Ouma fight fell out. It was supposed to take place on May 15 and we jumped on the opportunity and enough time to train so everything was perfect. Whatever God has planned is ordained. If thatís what happens next, thatís what happens. Sometimes what man has planned or what I think might be planned just doesnít happen. So I just put it in Godís hands.

JENNA: Youíve been an undefeated contender before Ishe when you went onto The Contender. How much pressure is it to keep that ď0Ē, to keep that undefeated record?

SMITH: I donít think you think about it much. Itís very important but you donít think about as much as the guy who youíre fighting whose trying to take it. When youíre undefeated you donít think about it much because I beat a lot of undefeated guys coming up, former world champions, and guys who fought for titles. I think when the guy your fighting who is hungry and wants to take it, I think thatís more so than when you have it and youíre thinking about it. Because when youíre fighting you just go out there and fight but when you fight someone whoís hungry and wants to take it and wants to put that first ďLĒ on your record, I think thatís more important than keeping it. The guy thatís hungry wants to be that first. Like when I took Pawel Wolakís undefeated record he still has only lost to me. When you look back over it, I was the first guy to beat David Estrada who went on to fight Shane Mosley. I could always say I was the first guy to beat him so those have always been very important to me. I love fighting undefeated guys. I get up for them. I get up for all of my fights but more so when you fight undefeated guys.

JENNA: Fernando, the thing is you never lost. Do you go into the ring with that mentality that you donít know how to lose in the professional ranks?

GUERRERO: Yeah. Well you know what, I actually donít because with boxing in general, Iíve tasted defeat before. I also have to include the amateur days and I didnít like it. I didnít like it at all. The main thing about it is I donít forget how it feels. Now, thatís why Iím training so hard not to feel that way again and thatís how I feel.

JENNA: Now I want to give you both an opportunity to give final statements to each other here. Iím going to go first to Ishe, is there anything you want to say to Fernando?

SMITH: No, like I said I expect the best Fernando. Heís going to be ready. He says heís in full condition and he trains like itís a world championship fight and I think when youíre at this level you should always be in full condition if youíre a professional. That is good. So I look for the best version of him and Iím ready. Iíve been working on eight weeks now so it was a great camp. I couldnít have asked for a better camp. Iím ready.

JENNA: Fernando, is there anything you want to say to Ishe?

GUERRERO: All I want to say to him is, my man, I really love the way that he just takes pride in the game right now. Iíve fought eighteen people and out of those eighteen people I canít say Iíve ever met a professional guy like him. I really like his energy right now. The thing is, letís put on a good show. We all know what itís going to be and what boxing really is. I just wanted somebody to bring the good out of me in boxing. Ishe, if you think youíre the one then letís do it and letís just put on a spectacular show.

JENNA: Alright guys. Finally, both of you, I wanted to see if you wanted to address the fans out there. Ishe, is there anything you want to say to the boxing fans?

SMITH: I just want to tell all of the fans thank you for the support. Even before The Contender days itís been a long ride. This is actually, going back to Mississippi, almost ten years to the day that I had my first fight in Tunica, Mississippi. Itís a good homecoming to go back to where I started and to the fans who have supported me throughout have been great these last few years. Even the haters have motivated me to raise my game up a level. I just want to thank them all for just supporting me and standing in my corner.

JENNA: Fernando, is there anything you want to say to the fans out there?

GUERRERO: Well I want to say Iím sorry I was never in The Contender and now on Friday this is going to be the finale of The Contender. I will be The Contender this time. To everybody thatís going to be watching me, the people from Salisbury, Vegas, and Baltimore and DC, and everybody, just look out for the name Fernando Guerrero.

JENNA: It was a pleasure interviewing both of you. For our fans listening out there, on July 16 SHOBOX has a triple header and these two guys will be facing off. Anyway, Ishe Smith, Fernando Guerrero we thank you both for your time and wish you the best of luck on the 16th.

SMITH: Thank you.

GUERRERO: Thank you.


For those interested in listening to the Shane Mosley interview in its entirety, it begins approximately twenty-five minutes into the show.


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Article posted on 15.07.2010

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