Jesse Hart: “Bringing Boxing Back to Philadelphia”

By Thad Moore on March 16, 2016
Jesse Hart: “Bringing Boxing Back to Philadelphia”
“I haven’t lost one fight in my career. I haven't lost one round in my career.” (Thad Moore)

He grew up in a rough area of North Philadelphia where people on the street would challenge him because of who his father was…

Super middleweight Jesse Hart’s mission is clear. He wants boxing to come back to Philadelphia. He is doing his part on March 18th when he defends his NABO belt at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia against journeyman Dashon Johnson (19-18-3, 6 KOs).

Hart (19-0, 16 KOs) has stopped his last six opponents. In fact, he turned down the opportunity to fight on the February 27th undercard featuring WBO junior welterweight king Terence Crawford at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

“I’m bringing boxing back to Philadelphia,” said Hart. “This show is setting a trend for that. Any other top Philadelphia fighters are fighting in LA or Arizona, I’m fighting right here. It is my call to bring it back home. I’m here to make a Philly stand.”

Promoter Russell Peltz, BAM Boxing Promotions, Joe Hand Promotions, and Top Rank are all responsible for the upcoming card, which is sold out with the exception of standing room only seats. Peltz mused about the importance of having it take place in the legendary fight city and talked about Hart’s assets in the ring.

“He’s a wonderful kid. He’s done a tremendous job promoting the show and bringing this to Philadelphia. His aggressiveness and overwhelming style are his strengths. The biggest advantage he has is his size. If he wins this fight, he’ll be fighting for the title.”

Hart is currently the WBO’s third ranked contender. On April 9th, champion Arthur Abraham will defend his championship against mandatory challenger Gilberto Ramirez. There is an expectation in Hart’s circles that a win over Johnson on the 18th will lead Hart to a shot at the big prize.

Hart feels that he is 100% ready to fight for the crown and wants the winner of Abraham-Ramirez as soon as possible.

“This fight is going to prove I’m one of the best super middleweights in the world, if not the best. I’m coming for the knockout. I haven’t lost one fight in my career. I haven’t lost one round in my career. I’m ready to fight for the belt. After I win a title, I will have a world title fight in Philadelphia.”

Hart’s father, fan favorite and former Philadelphia junior middleweight and middleweight contender Eugene “Cyclone” Hart disagrees with his son’s assessment.

“When Jesse grows and gets older, you’ll see the real deal. I’m saying that the championship fight maybe shouldn’t happen now. He’s saying now and I’m saying after seven more fights, he’ll be ready. When he gets more comfortable in the ring, he can fight anybody.”

The elder Hart, who in the ‘70s had an impressive résumé including challenging “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Philadelphia fighters Bennie Briscoe, Willie “The Worm” Monroe and Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts. When probing as to why he feels that Jesse is not ready, “Cyclone” stated, “Once we get his feet and hands right, Jesse will be ready. He has to get more experience. When he fights for the title, I want him to keep it and hold it. Being involved with boxing, I’m saying he’s not ready. Me and Bob (Arum) make the decision when he’s ready and he doesn’t know that he needs more fights.”

There is some truth to the ex-fighter’s argument. Hart has never been hit solidly in the ring and hasn’t faced a top contender. He also has a tendency to throw wide, looping punches, leaving him open for counters, which could spell doom against the division’s elite. When Hart faces adversity, we will find out more about his long-term prospects in the sport.

Hearing from skeptics is not new for Hart, who appears to have a chip on his shoulder heading into the Johnson bout. He entertained the media at a recent workout by performing mitt work in the ring with his trainer Danny Davis, working over the heavy bag and speed bag, as well as answering questions.

“Someone dies just like what Tyson said to Razor Ruddock. I’m a savage. That’s how I feel. That means we’re old school. I can go all day. You tell ‘em. I’m coming to fight. I mean business. I’m going to win in spectacular fashion,” said Hart.

Hart acknowledged how important watching and learning from the fighters of yesteryear has been to his personal development. He harkens back to a time when the Philadelphia fighter dominated talk in the city.

“I wish I was back in that ‘80s era with Philly fighters. I want that golden age back. My mission was to become one of the best Philly fighters ever to lace up the gloves. I kept hearing how great my Dad was, how great Bennie Briscoe was, how great George Benton was. I’m a different kind of dude, meant to be fighting in a different era. I’m a 15-round fighter in my mind.”

This will be Hart’s fifth fight in the Philadelphia area, but perhaps his most important. With a win, Hart may have an opportunity to cash in for the biggest payday of his career. He intends to pave the way for others as he expects high-level boxing matches to return to the city of Brotherly Love.

“This event sets me apart. Nobody else is fighting here. We’re not looking at the Eagles, Sixers, or Flyers. You’ve got Jesse Hart. Philadelphia has the best boxing athletes in the world. I refuse to fight in other people’s hometowns and cities. Fighting in Philadelphia is something I want to do.”

Hart’s relationship with his father has been paramount to his success. He grew up in a rough area of North Philadelphia where people on the street would challenge him because of who his father was. All of the running, gym work and early morning runs at 5 AM have helped shaped his preparation for how he fights today. Their bond was evident during media day as Hart placed a kiss on his father’s cheek as his workout was nearing an end.

“As a kid, everything I asked him to do, he did. He listened to me by working out hard. Jesse showed me that he wasn’t afraid.” “Cyclone” continued, “Right now, he’s being successful in boxing. He can punch with either hand and take you out.”

Hart becomes introspective when talking about how he would like to be remembered both in and out of the ring.

“I’d like to be remembered as Jesse, who wasn’t scared of anybody and who would fight anybody. I want to be remembered as an all-around great guy. I’d like people to say he was a stand-up guy. I’d like the next generation to remember me. I want my name to live on in generations.”

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  1. Your Name 07:44am, 03/19/2016

    “If he wins this fight, he’ll be fighting for the title.”

    “This fight is going to prove I’m one of the best super middleweights…”
    Based on a fight with a guy who owns on more win than his losses?
    Guess we all have to hype in this world.  But I wish him luck.
    His dad was a beast for a while.