Junior middleweight titlist Ishe Smith, the first fighter born in the boxing capital of Las Vegas to win a world title, will make his first defense in his hometown.
Smith will face mandatory challenger Carlos Molina on July 19 (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/PT) at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Mayweather Promotions announced on Thursday.
"This is the homecoming I've been waiting for my entire career and there is no way that Carlos Molina is leaving Las Vegas with my championship belt," Smith said. "He's a tough fighter and a guy no one wants to fight, but that's why I have no problem fighting him in my first title defense. I'm here to fight the best and show that I'm a true champion."
Smith (25-5, 11 KOs), 34, a former contestant on the reality series "The Contender," claimed a 154-pound world title by winning a decision against Cornelius "K9" Bundrage on Feb. 23. Smith is close to pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather and is the first fighter to win a world title for his promotional company.
Molina (21-5-2, 6 KOs), 30, who was born in Mexico and lives in Chicago, won a lopsided decision against former titleholder Cory Spinks on Feb. 1 in a title eliminator to become Smith's mandatory challenger.
"I respect Ishe Smith for stepping up and taking this fight, because not many world champions would," said Molina, a top contender who has had a hard time getting top opponents to face him. "That being said, this is my opportunity to win the title and it may not come around again, so I have to make the most of it and I will."
Also on the Showtime-tripleheader, lightweight Mickey Bey Jr. (18-0-1, 9 KOs) and super middleweight prospect Badou Jack (14-0, 10 KOs) will be in action in separate fights.
The fight will be Bey's first since he failed a post-fight drug test for significantly elevated levels of testosterone following a Feb. 2 knockout win against Robert Rodriguez in Las Vegas.
The Nevada State Athletic Commission changed the result of the bout to a no contest, suspended Bey for three months and fined him $1,000 of his $8,000 purse. Bey's drug screen showed his testosterone to epitestosterone ratio (T/E) being greater than 30-1. Nevada allows a ratio of 6-1. Bey's ratio was the second highest in Nevada history, according to Nevada commission executive director Keith Kizer.
Jack, a 2008 Olympian for Gambia who was born in Sweden and lives in Las Vegas, is coming off a third-round knockout of Michael Gbenga on May 4 on the undercard of Mayweather's win against Robert Guerrero in Las Vegas.