Return of the Dragon

China Smith wants his title back.

China Smith wants respect.

Even more, China Smith wants revenge.

“There is nothing sweeter than revenge,” Smith said.

Smith will get all these opportunities when he steps into the ring Saturday for a rematch against the man who took his NBA heavyweight championship title and handed him his only professional loss, Mexico’s Saul “The Cobra” Montana.

Smith (23-1, 22 KOs), a Sarasota native who goes by the nickname “The Dragon,” was knocked out by Montana (36-11, 32 KOs) in the seventh round of their first fight in April.

Smith has wanted to get back in the ring with Montana from then.

“Ever since the end of that fight, I’ve said I wanted a rematch,” Smith said. “I know I wasn’t at my best when (Montana) beat me. I would like to see him beat me at my best.”

Smith is determined to regain his heavyweight title, something he feels he never should have lost.

“I’m ready to go out there and redeem myself and get my title back and bring it home where it should be,” Smith said.

Smith said he’s been training hard for this upcoming fight and feels he is very well prepared.

“I feel really good. I think I am well prepared, physically and mentally, for this fight,” Smith said.

After Smith lost the first fight to Montana, he said one of the main reasons he lost was he got away from his fight plan.

He said it is important to stick with his fight strategy in order to defeat Montana.

“It’s very important (to stick with the strategy). If I stick with the plan and do what I need to do and what I’m capable of doing, then my performance will take care of everything,” Smith said.

Although Smith took a lot of the blame for the defeat, he didn’t take any credit away from Montana.

“I’ve got to take my hat off to (Montana) because he did defeat me, regardless of what I may have done wrong,” Smith said. “He was the better fighter that time.”

This time Smith is hoping for a new outcome.

One advantage for Smith is that he once again will fight in front of his home crowd.

“The crowd can be like a third man,” Smith said. “I’m looking forward to having a great performance and putting on a great show in front of my hometown fans.”

Smith said a win against Montana will give him some more recognition and more respect.

“(A win) would definitely move me up higher in the rankings,” Smith said. “I’m still young in my career, and I know if I keep getting these victories, then everything will fall into place.”

Smith signed a three-fight deal with the Sun Dome. This fight is the second for Smith at the Sun Dome, and it will be broadcast nationally on Showtime.

Smith is unsure who will be his next opponent because this fight is a determinant on what happens next in his career.

One thing for sure is that Smith isn’t looking past Montana.

“I’m just taking it one fight at a time,” Smith said.