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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.
|Carlos Molina will face junior middleweight titlist Ishe Smith on July 19 in Las Vegas.|
"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.