IBF Light Middleweight champion Cornelius "K-9" Bundrage (32-4, 19 KO) is one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport today, and he's set for his next title defense Saturday night, in his native Detroit, Mich.
Bundrage will defend against Ishe "Sugar Shay" Smith (24-5, 11 KO) and as is usually the case with Bundrage fights, there will be plenty of action.
Here's how you can watch the fight and some deeper analysis into the fighters and this matchup.
When: Saturday, Feb. 23 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Masonic Temple in Detroit, Mich.
Live Stream: Showtime Anytime Pay Service
The Book on Bundrage
Looking For Respect Without Emmanuel Steward
The 39-year-old Bundrage is looking for respect in the 154-pound division. After stopping Cory Spinks for the second time in June 2012, Bundrage reportedly felt he was in line for a shot with Canelo Alvarez.
The fight didn't take place, and according to an August 2012 article in The Ring magazine, the late Emmanuel Steward said Bundrage was upset. The fallout from this situation led to the two parting ways.
The legendary trainer said:
It was about him not being a man and not honoring his obligations to Golden Boy after they went out of his way to put up a bid to get his fight and to put him in the main event. We were supposed to sign a promotional contract, and then, after the fight, he said that he wasn't going to do it.
So he just used us. Because of that, I just said that I can't be dealing with anyone who does stuff like that. I was totally disappointed and embarrassed by the fact that he wasn't being a man, and I decided not to be involved with him any longer in this boxing business or in his personal life.
Steward passed away from diverticulosis in October 2012, and Bundrage hasn't fought since the Spinks bout.
Not only will Bundrage be competing without the man that helped guide him to his current level as a fighter, but it wouldn't be crazy to think there could be some powerful emotions involved.
This will be the first time he's entered the ring since Steward's passing.
Bundrage made it clear he still had respect and love for his ex-trainer. He told The Ring:
I just don't want to make it seem like there are any hard feelings between myself and Emanuel Steward, because I really do appreciate everything that Emanuel Steward did for me. I've definitely got love for the Kronk Gym and the Kronk fighters.
In another interview with The Ring, Bundrage says Steward gave his nephew, "Sugar Hill" the OK to train him, and that seemed to offer him some closure and peace. He said:
We just didn't have a chance to iron it all out at the end of the day. But I'll definitely miss him, because he did so much for me, he did so much for my city, and he did so much for boxing.
It will be interesting to hear Bundrage's answers to the inevitable questions about he and Steward's relationship before or after the fight.
In the Ring
K-9's style isn't pretty, but it has been effective.
He's extremely bulky in the upper body, and he throws each shot with the intent of taking his opponent out. He's a bit of an arm-puncher, but his arms are massive, and he applies constant pressure.
Bundrage doesn't have the greatest stamina, but he generally depends on having worn down or hurt his opponent with his pressure before that can trip him up.
He seemed to tire against Spinks in his most recent bout, but to his credit, he gained a second wind, and that surge of energy proved to be the boost he needed to finish the washed-up Spinks.
Here are highlights of Bundrage stopping Spinks in their first bout.
The Book on Smith
Behind Enemy Lines
Smith is going into hostile territory fighting Bundrage, a Detroit native, in the Masonic Temple. He knows it and says that he is ready for the challenge.
Smith told Fight Hype: "They (Detroit's fans) can't fight the fight for him."
This is easily the biggest fight of Smith's career. He is getting a title shot on a major cable network, and winning this fight would propel him into a chance for an even bigger payday.
At 34 years old, Smith knows this is an opportunity he needs to take advantage of.
The Las Vegas native will have to be focused, sharp and in terrific shape to overcome Bundrage and the Detroit faithful.
In the Ring
At 5'10", Smith will enjoy a notable height advantage over Bundrage. He's 4" taller, but Bundrage has very long arms, and his 72" reach is actually one inch longer than Smith's.
That will aid Bundrage in his pursuit to close distance, which is key for him in this fight.
Smith needs to prevent this fight from becoming a knockdown, drag-out affair. He cannot win a brawl with Bundrage. K-9 is too strong, and the constant leaning and grappling inside favors the champion.
I've seen Smith's stamina fail him before. It happened in his July 2010 fight with Fernando Guerrero. He scored a late knockdown in that fight to make things close, but he lost a unanimous decision.
Here are some of his best moments from that fight:
If he tires in the middle rounds against Bundrage, K-9's second wind could do to Smith what it did to Spinks.
How will this fight end?
Title Bout Championship Boxing Prediction
In simulating this fight with Out of the Park Development's Title Bout Championship Boxing 2, Bundrage was the overwhelming favorite to win.
There were 10 simulations conducted, and Bundrage won seven times, drew twice and lost only once. The simulation that produced the lone loss for Bundrage was a TKO due to a bad cut over K-9's eye.
In 10 simulations, Smith never dropped Bundrage, but K-9 scored a total of 17 knockdowns. Three of his seven wins came by KO/TKO.
Here is a breakdown of the final results from the simulation series.
Bundrage is too powerful for Smith, and the challenger doesn't have the power to make Bundrage respect him.
He will wear him down with pressure and power shots. As usual, it won't be textbook, but Bundrage will emerge victorious.