Tony Harrison has challenged for a junior middleweight world title but lost, and Ishe Smith has held one of the belts. Both are hoping to move a step closer to another shot at a title by beating the other.
Harrison and Smith will square off in the 10-round main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on May 11 (Bounce TV) at Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Las Vegas, Mayweather Promotions announced on Friday.
Smith (29-9, 12 KOs), 39, the first Las Vegas-born boxer to win a world title, won it in 2013 from Cornelius "K9" Bundrage but lost it later that year by split decision to Carlos Molina. He also lost a decision in a 2014 shot against then-titleholder Erislandy Lara.
Smith is coming off a spirited 10-round decision loss to top contender Julian Williams in a Bounce TV main event in November.
"I picked up right where I left off from my last fight. I'm back in camp. I didn't take any time off since my last fight,'' Smith said. "This will be the second fight in a row where I am bringing in a strength and conditioning coach. I credit my strength and conditioning coach, who played a major role in my last performance being one of my career best. I felt great in my last fight and I'm going to continue to bring it.
"I don't feel like I'm approaching 40. I actually feel younger and in the best shape of my life. This camp I'm focused on not leaving anything into the judges hands like last time. I can't allow another bad call against me. It's time for me to make a statement, dominate, and get this guy out. I don't know much about my opponent, but I'm going to make him fight my fight."
Harrison (26-2, 21 KOs), 27, of Detroit, has won two fights in a row since now-unified world titlist Jarrett Hurd knocked him out in the ninth round of a vacant world title fight in February 2017.
"It's about time for me to get back into the loop," Harrison said. "This is a tough fight against Ishe, who is coming off of a good performance for himself against Julian Williams. I've been wanting to fight Ishe since my early days as a pro, and this is exactly the kind of fight that I need. This is definitely going to be a good one.
"Ishe is almost 40 years old, but that makes no difference to me. Ishe's been a world champion, and in order for me to become a world champion, I've got to go through one. It's a difficult task, and there is definitely no way that I'm taking Ishe lightly. I'm the ultimate competitor, and there's not a fight in the world that I wouldn't take. I'm ready to lay it all on the line in this fight, and that's what makes it all worthwhile when I get the win."
In the 10-round co-feature, cruiserweight contender Andrew Tabiti (15-0, 12 KOs), 28, of Las Vegas, will face Nigeria native Lateef Kayode (21-2, 16 KOs), 35, who fights out of Los Angeles.
"My last fight I showed everyone that I'm a smart boxer,'' Tabiti said of his decision win over former titlist Steve Cunningham last August on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard. "I think a lot of guys expect me to just go in the ring and knock guys out but I feel like it's important to show that I'm versatile. I can box with you or I can use my power and get a guy out.
"This camp, my goal is to focus on targeting the body plus using the IQ I gained from my last camp and fight. This guy is older, he's coming off two losses, he's on his way out, but I can't overlook him. My last opponent was a lot older so I'm going to take the tools and experience and put it all together to bring the fans a great performance."
Kayode has lost two fights in a row and has fought only once since 2015. He's banking on his experience. "Tabiti has absolutely no experience compared to me and his opponents have been less than formidable," Kayode said. "I will show him why I'm in a completely different class of fighter."