LAS VEGAS -- Ishe Smith may not have been fighting his opponent of choice on Friday night, but he took care of business just the same.
The former junior middleweight titlist saw his original bout with interim titlist Erislandy Lara called off when Lara accepted a July 12 pay-per-view date with Canelo Alvarez. If Smith, 35, was put off in any way, he took out his frustration on replacement opponent Ryan Davis at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Smith jumped out of the gate to hurt Davis, 35, in the opening round with power shots before dropping him on a hard left hook in Round 2. Davis (24-14-3, 9 KOs), who entered the bout having lost his last four and five of his last six, was counted out at 2:59.
The performance was about as exciting as you’ll see from Smith (26-6, 12 KOs), who has often faced criticism for his defensive style.
“I understand the sport. You have to be exciting and you have to be a little more aggressive,” Smith said. “I’ve never been hurt and I’ve never been down, so I decided to be more aggressive tonight.”
Smith became the first native of Las Vegas to win a world title when he scored an emotional victory over Cornelius Bundrage in February 2013 before losing his title in his next fight against Carlos Molina on the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez undercard in September.
Despite losing out on the chance against Lara, Smith remains confident that a better opportunity will come his way.
“The good thing about having great promoters is that they can go out and make all of the deals,” said Smith, who believes Alvarez will defeat Lara. “As long as I deliver on my end, it’s on me. No excuses. This time is on me. If I take care of business, I know I can get a shot.”
Bey outlasts Herrera
Well ahead late in the fight, Mickey Bey found himself in a precarious and unfortunately familiar situation after being floored by Alan Herrera in Round 7.
But for Bey, a Las Vegas native, this would be no repeat of his final-round knockout loss to John Molina in July.
Bey (20-1-1, 10 KOs), who suffered a cut above his left eye in Round 9, outboxed Herrera throughout and recovered well from the late knockdown to claim a unanimous decision (97-92, 98-92 twice).
Mexico’s Herrera (32-6, 21 KOs), 24, who surprised Bey with a left hook to force the knockdown, was unable to capitalize. Bey, who boxed well and countered cleanly throughout, came back in Round 8 to hurt Herrera with a right hand.
“I was kind of off balance and he caught me with a good shot,” Bey said. “He was tough. But I perfected what we worked on in the gym.”
Bey, 30, put a handful of early rounds in the bank by jabbing to the body and opened up a cut below Herrera’s right eye with a left hook in Round 5.
Cuellar defends title
Jesus Cuellar was aggressive throughout and held off a typical late rally from Rico Ramos to defend his interim featherweight title.
Cuellar (24-1, 18 KOs) overcome a point deduction for rabbit punching in Round 8 to claim a unanimous decision by scores of 116-110, 117-109 and 114-112.
The 27-year-old southpaw from Argentina beat Ramos (23-4, 12 KOs), a former junior featherweight titlist, to the punch throughout and consistently backed him up to the ropes. Although Ramos stepped up his activity level in the closing rounds, it proved to be too little, too late.