Local Barrie boxer earns Canadian title shot
Undefeated homegrown talent Mark Smither (6-0) vies for his first championship in his professional boxing career. Smither competes in the co-main event for the Canadian Super Lightweight title on Saturday, Feb. 26, against Hamilton native Paul Ispas (4-0-3).
His time is now.
United Boxing Promotions presents this stacked card, featuring two title fights at the CAA Centre in Brampton, Ontario, at 6:30 pm.
The road to the title
Smither dominated in his last performance, defeating Cody Kelly (3-3-3) by unanimous decision (79-71) in an eight-round bout. Additionally, Smither scored two knockdowns and displayed crisp striking throughout.
Smither remains modest despite a strong showing and sees room for improvement.
“Outside a few mistakes, I thought I did well. I had to make some adjustments (in camp) fighting a southpaw for the first time since my amateur days. I should have got him (Kelly) out of there after I knocked him down, and there was some smothering in my punches. But we got the victory we wanted.“
The decisive victory places Smither on a collision course with fellow title challenger Ispas, where gold and glory wait on the horizon.
The keys to victory
With the prospect of becoming a champion on the table, Smither understands the importance of sticking to the game plan. Staying focused and maximizing conditioning will be critical to that success. Also, training with elite talent will elevate his game.
“Conditioning will be a factor in this fight, but I’m always well prepared. I’m headed to Cornwall to train with former champ Tony Luis. Training with other title contenders will help bring my game to the next level.”
As the saying goes, iron sharpens iron.
Smither’s “Marvellous” team
Uptown Boxing is Smither’s home away from home. It’s there that head coach Jack Ireland meticulously works with Smither on his technique. In addition, strength & conditioning coach Jonathan Martin keeps Smither in peak physical shape.
The coaches ensure Smither always has adequate training partners. Former WBA title eliminator challenger Josh O’Reilly (16-1) tops the list. Additionally, undefeated power puncher Lucas Bahdi (10-0) brings a heightened skillset to Smither’s sparring sessions.
Importantly, Smither has his life outside of boxing – Kas Kitchens. Best friend and owner Mathew Barkley helps keep Smither’s life balanced. Moreover, Kas Kitchens is one of Smither’s biggest sponsors. Suffice it to say that Smither has no shortage of quality support in his corner.
Familiar foes and hometown support
Interestingly enough, Smither and Ispas have crossed paths before, having fought three times in their amateur days. Furthermore, Smither won two out of three bouts while still honing his craft. Just imagine what a polished, disciplined Smither will achieve come Feb. 26.
Smither is the real deal, and his following is growing exponentially.
“We had about 300 people from Barrie come out to my last fight. That was awesome.”
That number is expected to rise for Smither’s upcoming fight against Ispas. Being an ambassador for Barrie motivates Smither to work that much harder. Further, Smither expanded on representing his city.
“We’ve never really had anyone in this sport from Barrie that’s doing what I’m doing right now. I know many people in this community who continue showing me support. Now that things are coming together, I’m excited to win this title for them.”
Once the job is done, what’s next?
While not overlooking his opponent, Smither sets his sights on a future event in Barrie. Moreover, defending his title on home soil.
“Hosting a show in Barrie at Sadlon Arena in July is something we’d love to do. I know I can sell that place out, and I know the community will be there to have my back.”
Plans to host a fight card in Barrie remain tentative. That said, Smither’s emergence as championship material bodes well for a summer card in our backyard.
The time for talking is over
Will Smither overcome the pressure in the biggest fight of his career? His life’s work in boxing culminates at this moment. Smither continues to let his work do the talking, remaining unphased by outside distractions.
In short, that is the merit of a true champion!