The co-main event of the February 23 SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® doubleheader will see Detroit’s own Cornelius “K9” Bundrage defending his IBF Junior Middleweight World Championship against Las Vegas’ Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith.
Also featured will be an all-Michigan battle as unbeaten Detroit prospect J’Leon Love takes on former World Champion Bronco McKart of Monroe in a 10-round middleweight bout which will be televised live on SHOWTIME EXTREME®(7 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
“2013 is going to be a big year for my career and I’m going to get it started right in an exciting fashion against Kell Brook,” said Alexander. “I worked extremely hard to win my title and I’m not giving it away to anyone. This will be a statement-making fight for me.”
“This is the biggest night of my life,” said Brook. “When I turned up at the Wincobank Gym in Sheffield as a nine year old, this was what I dreamed about - boxing for a world title and on February 23, I’ll turn that dream into a reality. I’m in the best physical shape of my life and the best ever Kell Brook will be in the ring in Detroit and there’s no way that I am coming home without that world title. This is my destiny, it’s just meant to be and there’s nothing Devon Alexander can do to stop me.”
“I thank my Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me to be able to defend my title right here in Detroit, in front of all of my family and friends,” said Bundrage. “It’s an honor to be able to bring world championship boxing back to the city of Detroit. I always train hard and am prepared for what my opponent might show me in the ring. No man can close doors that GOD has opened. Nothing will be different this time and it will be a special night of boxing for everyone. I will be victorious February 23 in Jesus’ name.”
“I want to thank Floyd Mayweather and Mayweather Promotions for believing in me and my boxing talents and helping make this dream to fight K9 [Bundrage] for his title a reality,” said Smith. “I know he’ll have the hometown advantage, but I’m not worried about that. I’m preparing for the fight of my life and I feel confident that I’ll beat him and become the new champion.”
“It feels great to be able to fight in Detroit, my hometown and the place where I learned how to fight,” said Love. “I’m excited to show everyone that I’m on the road to a championship and nothing will stop me from achieving my lifelong dream. Training and working with Floyd Mayweather and Mayweather Promotions in Las Vegas has given me another level of appreciation for hard work and determination.”
“I am grateful for the opportunity to fight in Detroit one more time,” said McKart. “I’ve had a long and great career and still feel comfortable fighting for pride and glory. J’Leon Love is a young and exciting fighter from this area too, but I feel that my experience will be too much for him to handle and that I’ll be victorious on February 23. I hope everyone in and around Detroit will come out and support this great night of boxing.”
“Devon Alexander and Kell Brook have been waiting to take care of business in the ring and we’re going to the fighting city of Detroit for them to settle the score in one of the biggest fights of early 2013,” said President of Golden Boy Promotions Oscar De La Hoya. “Plus, Detroit’s own ‘K9’ Bundrage is back in his hometown to take on longtime contender Ishe Smith in an important showdown for both men. We also have ‘The Battle for Michigan’ when J’Leon Love takes on his toughest test to date in Bronco McKart. It’s a can’t miss night for Detroit sports fans”
“This is an exciting opportunity for Mayweather Promotions and everyone knows Floyd Mayweather is from the great state of Michigan too,” said CEO of Mayweather Promotions, Leonard Ellerbe. “Detroit is tremendously important to boxing and we are excited to add to its history on February 23. In addition we feel extremely confident that our fighters, Ishe Smith and J’Leon Love, another Michigan man, will come away with victories, setting them both up for much bigger things in the near future.”
“Boxing fans are in for a real treat when Devon and Kell meet as they are two of the best 147 pounders in the business,” said Eddie Hearn Managing Director of Matchroom Boxing. “Kell Brook is a special talent and has dreamt about this moment since he first laced up those gloves. He has trained like a man possessed and he is coming to America to make a huge statement and bring that title back to Britain.”
“We are looking forward to another great night of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING featuring two world title fights in the boxing-rich city of Detroit,” said Stephen Espinoza, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports. “The event will showcase one of the most talented 147-pound fighters in the world, Devon Alexander, and the U.S. television debut of U.K. star Kell Brook as well as exciting undercard action.”
This exciting evening of world championship boxing is presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions in association with Matchroom Boxing and is sponsored by Corona, AT&T and MGM Grand Detroit. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) with preliminary fights to air live on SHOWTIME Extreme at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
Tickets priced at $200, $125, $100, $75, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and services charges are on sale now and are available for purchase at the Masonic Temple box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000.
A technical wizard with speed and finesse in the ring, St. Louis’ Devon Alexander (24-1, 13 KO’s) is a master boxer who has already won world titles in two divisions despite being only 25 years old. Alexander is the former IBF and WBC world title holder at 140 pounds, with wins over Lucas Matthysse, Juan Urango and Junior Witter to his name. In 2012, “The Great” made his move to welterweight and by the time he was finished defeating former World Champions Marcos Maidana and Randall Bailey, he was crowned the IBF Welterweight World Champion. On February 23, he makes the first defense of his new crown.
England’s latest unbeaten sensation, the popular Kell Brook (29-0, 19 KO’s) has mowed past all opposition placed in front of him over the last eight years. After winning the British WBO intercontinental and IBF international welterweight titles, he’s ready for his close-up on the world stage. With 2012 wins over Matthew Hatton, Carson Jones and Hector Saldivia, the talented 26-year-old from Sheffield has proven he has the talent, style and determination to justify his number one rating.
Cornelius “K9” Bundrage (32-4, 19 KO’s) turned professional in 1995, but it wasn’t until 2006 that he got the opportunity to introduce himself to the world as a member of the cast of NBC’s hit boxing reality show “The Contender.” On the show, Bundrage won two fights before a controversial loss to Steve Forbes in the semifinals. However, he was undeterred and went back to the gym and began building his post-Contender career. On August 7, 2010, he scored a fifth round technical knockout win over Cory Spinks to win the IBF Junior Middleweight World Championship. He has since defended his title with rematch wins over Sechew Powell and Spinks and now looks to take out Ishe Smith on February 23.
Las Vegas’ Ishe “Sugar Shay” Smith (24-5, 11 KO’s) has battled the best for years, scoring wins over the likes of Randall Bailey, Alfonso Gomez, David Estrada and Pawel Wolak. Another cast member on the first season of ”The Contender”, the 34-year-old Smith captivated the nation in and out of the ring. After decision losses at middleweight to top contenders Danny Jacobs and Fernando Guerrero, Smith has run off three straight wins, proving that at 154 pounds, he is a dangerous force to be reckoned with.
Detroit’s J’Leon Love (14-0, 8 KO’s) took his game to the next level in 2012, going five for five with two knockouts, two dominant decisions and a disqualification win. How will the 25-year-old former amateur star top that in 2013? Odds are that he will find a way with his ever-expanding skill set and exciting style, both of which will be on display on February 23 against former World Champion Bronco McKart.
Now in his 21st year as a professional, Monroe, Michigan’s Bronco McKart (54-10-1, 32 KO’s) has forgotten more than most fighters know about world-class boxing. The 41-year-old former WBO Junior Middleweight World Champion has battled the likes of Winky Wright (three times), Raul Marquez, Roman Karmazin, Kelly Pavlik and Travis Simms over the course of his career. With wins in three of his last four fights, McKart is ready for his battle for Michigan pride against Love.
The historic Masonic Temple in downtown Detroit was dedicated on November 25, 1926. With 1,037 rooms and 550,000 square feet, and built to house numerous fraternal organizations, it is the largest structure of its kind in the world. This amazing Gothic building was constructed between 1920 and 1926 at a cost of $7 million. George Washington’s own working tools were used to spread the first mortar for the cornerstone. Washington, who was a Freemason used these same tools to lay the cornerstone of the Capitol building in Washington DC.