Former junior middleweight titlist and Las Vegas native Ishe Smith will be looking to get back on track when he returns this week in a special Thursday edition of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights."
Smith (26-7, 12 KOs) will square off in a 10-round bout against Cecil McCalla (20-1, 7 KOs) at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2), two nights before Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao square off in the fight of the century.
"Winning another world title is my biggest goal, and this fight is the first step in the right direction," said Smith, who appeared excited to fight in his hometown. "A lot of people are going to come see me because of that, and I'm not going to let them down."
Much is expected of Smith in the future if he wins this fight, according to Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, who considers his fighter "an accomplished former champion."
Considering the expectations placed upon him, it would seem for Smith that there is no tomorrow. It's a must-win situation if he wants to return to prominence. He's 1-2 in his past three fights, and at 36, another defeat could spell the beginning of the end.
It's worth remembering Smith lost his 154-pound title to Carlos Molina in September 2013 in his very first defense. After knocking out Ryan Davis in May 2014, he lost by unanimous decision last December in a title bout against Erislandy Lara.
McCalla, 30, a native of Randallstown, Maryland, also needs a win if he wants to be considered a contender for a world title in the future. Moreover, he'll be looking to recover from his first professional defeat, last January, when he lost by split decision to Chris van Heerden.
Prior to the defeat, McCalla, whose amateur career includes more than 100 fights, had a 20-fight winning streak stretching back to his professional debut in September 2008.
On the undercard, junior welterweights Ashley Theophane (37-6-1, 11 KOs), who resides in Las Vegas, and Mexican Mahonri Montes (29-4-1, 20 KOs) will face off.
Theophane, 34, is riding a four-fight win streak and is an experienced fighter who has faced top-class opposition such as Danny Garcia and Pablo Cesar Cano. Last December, he easily handled Miguel Zuniga by unanimous decision.