BRADENTON – China “the Dragon” Smith returns to the ring Friday night, as the Bradenton-based boxer takes on journeyman heavyweight Mike Sheppard (21-16) at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Smith, who returned to the ring last July after a seven-year layoff to beat Rubin "Hollywood" Williams at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, is looking to win his 35th professional boxing match, while picking up a third championship belt.
“This training camp has been better than ever,” said longtime trainer Tommy Keelen. “We've had time to work on new things and build on the old. We've worked a lot on China picking his spots and capitalizing when opportunities present themselves in the ring.”
Smith (34-4, 27 KOs), a former star running back at Riverview High School, was a two-time NBA Heavyweight Champion before taking the hiatus. His comeback was recently the subject of a documentary, titled The Second Chance, which was screened at this year's Sarasota Film Festival.
The fight will be 10 rounds for the WBF North American heavyweight belt. Weigh ins will take place Thursday at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino at 3:00 p.m. Undercard bouts begin at 7:45 p.m Friday night at the Forum. Tickets start at just $15 for students and military ($25 general admission) and are available through Ticketmaster.
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