Mayweather Promotions and Showtime bring boxing fans a 154-pound title showdown between Erislandy “The American Dream” Lara (19-2-2, 12 KOs) and Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (26-6, 12 KOs) on Friday, Dec. 12.
Lara and Smith were originally scheduled to meet on Friday, May 2 in Las Vegas to kick-off Cinco de Mayo Weekend, but Lara withdrew from the fight to face Canelo Alvarez on July 12 on SHOWTIME PPV®. In a tightly contested fight, Lara dropped a close 12-round split decision to Canelo. Now, Lara is looking to reassert himself as one of the top 154-pound fighters in the world while Smith is looking to reclaim his piece of the world championship.
Also on the card is once-beaten super middleweight contender Badou Jack (17-1, 11 KOs) who will face an opponent TBD as he looks to climb back as a top contender in the 168-pound division. Additionally, promising undefeated junior middleweight and Mayweather Promotions rising star Chris “Sweet” Pearson (11-0, 9 KOs) of Dayton, Ohio, who will take on once-beaten Steve “Hitman” Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs), of Bronx, N.Y., in the 10-round co-feature. The matchup showcases two power-punchers who have combined to knock out 13 of their last 16 opponents.
“This is a fight I wanted and I’m happy that it’s finally going to happen,” said Lara. “We’ve had words in the past but now it’s time to see who the better fighter is. I’m the champion and Ishe Smith is going to realize that I’m on another level once he steps in the ring with me. I have a great team behind me and you’re going to see the best junior middleweight in the world in the ring on Dec. 12. Make no mistakes about it I’m coming to dominate.
“This is a fight I needed, the fight I wanted to secure my legacy in the sport of boxing,” said Smith. “There’s a chink in Lara’s armor, I’m fully ready to expose it on Dec. 12. I’ve always played the underdog role. I love when people count me out. I will become a two-time champion, crowned a champion again for the greatest city in the world Las Vegas.”
“I’m thankful for another opportunity to showcase my talents,” said Pearson. “I believe success is when opportunity meets preparation and I’m prepared. I will allow my performance to tell the rest of the story.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to fight on SHOWTIME,” said Martinez. “Chris Pearson is a great prospect and my dream was always to fight the best in my division. This is the second go around for this fight. My respect to Mayweather Promotions who kept their word and put this fight together again.”
“I’m very excited to get back in action,” said Jack. “I’m ready to put on a fan-friendly fight in a great fight town.”
Slick southpaw Lara, 31, graduated from the renowned Cuban Amateur Boxing Program and migrated to the U.S. to pursue a professional boxing career. As a young contender, he suffered a controversial loss against Paul Williams. Since then he has established himself as one of the sport’s most prominent fighters highlighted by a TKO of Alfredo Angulo and a 12-round unanimous decision over Austin Trout on Dec. 7, 2013 which earned him the WBA Super Welterweight World Championship.
After a long career that saw him go from the world of reality television as a star on “The Contender” to competing at the top level at 154 and 160 pounds, Ishe Smith, 36, finally put it all together in 2010, beginning a four-fight winning streak that culminated in a decision win over Cornelius Bundrage for the IBF Junior Middleweight Title on Feb. 23, 2013, becoming the first native Las Vegan to ever win a world title. He subsequently lost his title on September 14, 2013 by a close split decision to the always-tough Carlos Molina. Coming off of a second-round knockout over Ryan Davis on May 2 of this year, Smith will attempt to win his second world championship in a span of less than two years.
The 31-year-old Jack was undefeated and on the verge of a world title shot before getting caught with a punch in the first round against Derek Edwards this past Feb. 28. The hard-hitting Jack, of Las Vegas by way of Stockholm, Sweden, rebounded in his next bout with a 10-round unanimous decision victory over Jason Escalera on Aug. 30. Jack is looking for another win on Dec. 12 to climb back into contention for a world title at 168 pounds as he faces Texas’ Clarkson.
Pearson, 24, compiled an outstanding record of 96-8 in the amateurs and was a 2011 U.S. National Champion at 165 pounds. A natural right-hander who fights left-handed, Pearson went 3-0 in the World Series of Fighting matches. Two of the victories were noteworthy, as they came against Olympic Games medalists (2008 gold medalist Bakhyt Sarsekbayen and 2012 bronze medalist Yamaguchi Florentino). Due to an injury, Pearson will be fighting for the first time since February, when he won a close eight-round split decision over Lanardo Tyner on ShoBox: The New Generation. Pearson, despite going down in the sixth, won the toughest test of his career by the scores of 78-73 twice and 75-76. Prior to that fight, Pearson registered a 1:44, first-round knockout over Acacio Ferreira on Dec. 6, 2013 also on ShoBox.
Martinez, 24, promoted by Star of David and Square Ring, was also an accomplished amateur, going 103-17 while winning three New York Golden Glove titles as well as a National Golden Glove title. A pro since Aug. 2009, Martinez will be seeking to establish himself as a legitimate prospect with the first significant victory of his career. Martinez is a poised fighter with a good punch. He went 11-0 at the outset of his career before suffering his lone setback on an eight-round split decision to lefty Dennis Douglin in Jan. 2012. He has gone 4-0 with three knockouts since, including a fifth-round TKO over Antonio Fernandez in his most recent start last May 15. This will be the third fight of the year for Martinez, who is making his SHOWTIME debut.