By: Ken Hissner
When your father (Eugene “Cyclone” Hart) had a reputation of being the best knockout artist IBHOF promoter Russell Peltz said he was you have much expected of you. He scored knockouts in his first nineteen fights and twenty-eight in his thirty wins.
This is what Jesse “Hard Work” Hart, 19-0 (16) had to face after winning numerous amateur titles compiling an 85-11 record. He attended Northern Michigan University and was coached by Philadelphia’s Al Mitchell. He got to the finals of the US Nationals in 2009 only to come back in 2011 and take that title. Also in that year he won the National Golden Gloves Title. In 2012 he was 4-0-1 in the Olympic trials defeating now such professionals as Antoine Douglas 19-1-1, Louis Arias 14-0, D’mitrius Ballard 12-0 and Chris Pearson, 12-0. In the final he fought Terrell Gausha (now 17-0) whom he lost to in the 2009 US Nationals finals. At the end it was 10-10, 34-34 in count back but lost 3-2 in votes from the judges. It could be believed the loss in 2009 was the reason. This left him as the 2012 Olympic alternate while Gausha was 1-1 in the 2012 Olympics in China.
In June of 2012 Hart signed with Doc Nowicki and Dave Price of D & D Management out of Philadelphia who signed Hart with Top Rank in Las Vegas as
his promoter. His debut was June of 2012 scoring a first round knockout in Las Vegas. His next two fights were the same while in his fourth fight it took until the third round to score a knockout. In his fifth fight he scored a decision win over Steven Tyner winning all four rounds and this writer overheard him complain his knockout streak was stopped. This was his first fight in his hometown of Philadelphia. He won all five fights in 2012 within six months of one another.
Three knockouts would follow for Hart before his rematch with the only boxer to go the distance with him in Tyner in August of 2013 scoring a first round stoppage improving his record to 9-0. He would end 2013 going 6-0 by stopping Tyrell “Hollywood” Hendrix, 10-2-2, in the first round in Atlantic City, NJ. In his next fight opening up in January of 2014 Hart was taken the distance for the second time winning over Derrick Findley, 20-11-1, over six rounds at the Madison Square Garden Theater.
Next for Hart would be his first minor title bout defeating prospect Samuel Clarkson, 10-2, over eight rounds in Hart’s second fight in Las Vegas with his debut being the first. In all Hart’s decision wins he never lost a round. With the win came the vacant NABF junior super middleweight title. He had Clarkson down twice in the fourth round. Back to Atlantic City Hart stopped Shujaa El Amin, 12-5, in the sixth round after scoring knockdowns in rounds 1, 3 and 6.
In October of 2014 Hart knocked out PR Roberto Jose Acevedo 8-2, in four rounds in Atlantic City which became like a second home base with his sixth win in six bouts there. Finishing up 2014 with five wins he stopped Colombia’s Samuel Miller, 28-9, in the second round. This was only his second fight in Philadelphia.
With three minor titles on the line Hart won the vacant WBO NABO and USBA titles along with defending his NABF title in May of 2015 in his first ten round bout stopping unbeaten Mike “Hollywood” Jimenez, 17-0, in six rounds in Las Vegas. Along with New Jersey it was Harts sixth fight in Las Vegas. In his next bout he stopped the son of IBHOF boxer Aaron “Hawk” Pryor, Aaron Pryor Jr., 19-8-1, in defenses of his USBA and WBO NABO titles in nine rounds.
In Hart’s last fight in December of 2015 he scored his eighth first round stoppage defeating Mexico’s Andrik Saralequi, 8-3. It was only the second time Hart reached the 170 mark at 171. The bout was held in Tucson, AZ. It was also his sixth straight stoppage.
Hart is scheduled this Friday, March 18th in this third Philadelphia appearance at the 2300 Arena in South Philly meeting Dashon Johnson, 19-18-3, in his third ten round bout defending his WBO NABO and USBA titles. Johnson is on a four fight winning streak. It was said Hart’s promoter Top Rank wanted him on the undercard in NY but Hart chose the main event in Philadelphia. It looks like a sure sold out crowd per Philly promoter Peltz.
Hart is ranked No. 10 in the WBA and No. 7 in the IBF. He’s expected at No. 3 in the WBO to meet the winner of WBO champion “King” Arthur Abraham’s, 44-4, sixth super middleweight title defense against his No. 1 contender Gilberto Ramirez, 33-0, on April 9th in Las Vegas. Abraham once held the IBF middleweight title and made ten defenses before moving up in weight. It will be his third appearance in the US losing to Andre Dirrell by DQ in 2010 in Detroit. In his next fight he failed to win the WBC title from Carl Froch for his WBA super world title in Finland by decision and from Andre “Gold” Ward in 2011 by decision in CA. Two fights later he won the WBO title over Robert Stieglitz in 2012 then losing it to him in 2013 only to win it back in 2014 while winning the rubber match in 2015.
Abraham is a heavy favorite in next month’s title defense and since it is in Las Vegas it could be a good chance so will be the winners fight with Hart in Las Vegas. Hart at 6:02 or 6:03 depending on who you ask and at 168 pounds he’s close to the size of former light heavyweight champion Bob Foster in a division Hart will surely go into in time. The best at 168 was IBHOF boxer Joe Calzaghe of Wales at 46-0 with 21 defenses all at that weight.
Hart has been trained by Fred Jenkins and his father “Cyclone” Hart at either the ABC Recreation center or Joe Hand’s Gym that are both in Philadelphia. Jenkins trained Olympic and world champion David Reid and most recently world heavyweight challenger Bryant Jennings. He is also an inductee to the PA HOF.
It’s been said Hart has a great future at 26 and a personality second only to former “the Greatest” Muhammad Ali. If Hart has what some would call a “flaw” in like his father he loves those Philly gym wars!
Currently only one fighter in Philadelphia holds a world title and that is Danny “Swift” Garcia. Eric “the Outlaw” Hunter will be getting his first chance at a title on April 9th in London against Lee Selby. In the city where both Steve “USS” Cunningham and Bernard “the Alien” Hopkins have been the most recent world title holders Hart looks like the “real deal” to one day be a two division world champion.
Remember at the 2300 Arena in South Philly Friday Hart’s father’s 10 round draw with “Bad” Bennie Briscoe will be shown at 6:15 with the event to follow. That alone would be worth the price of a ticket and with his son’s appearance only for the third time in Philadelphia in his first main event that’s the icing on the cake!