Smith Outworks Hart to Earn Decision
By: Sean Crose
The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City hosted a Top Rank promoted, ESPN aired card on Saturday that featured light heavyweight contenders Jesse Hart and Joe Smith in a scheduled ten rounder. With the winner inching closer to a major title shot, there was a lot on the line for each action oriented fighter walking in. Smith’s claim to fame was literally knocking the great Bernard Hopkins into retirement. Hart, on the other hand, was being presented as an avenging angel from Hopkins’ native Philadelphia. Although not a major matchup, it was a solid, mid level affair between two fighters of note. It was a good bout to ring in 2020 with.
First up, the 15-0 super middleweight Steve Nelson faced the 14-0 Cem Kilic in a scheduled 10 round bout. The first round was rather uneventful, but Nelson was landing cleaner. The second round saw Nelson looking the bit sharper of the two. The third was essentially the same in that Kilic was slow in pulling the Trigger. The fourth may have been a bit more competitive, though it would have been hard not to give the chapter to Nelson. Nelson continued along in the fifth.
By the sixth it was obvious that Kilic would have no chance of winning if he didn’t start landing clean. The seventh saw Nelson really taking it to his man. Hall of Fame trainer Buddy McGirt wisely stood up on the ring and waved the fight off in the eighth. The beating Kilic was receiving at that point was simply too unrelenting and consistent.
It was time for the main event. Smith entered the ring with a 24-3 record. Hart boasted a record of 26-2. Smith was the aggressor in the first while Hart circled the ring. Smith hurt his man a bit late in the second, though Hart didn’t go down. Hart began to connect in the third. Smith, quite simply started beating Hart up in the fourth. Hart had no answer for Smith’s aggression in the fifth. Smith kept up his attack in the sixth.
Smith dropped his man in the seventh. Hart got up, and was saved by the bell. Hart was able to land a bit in the eighth. The ring doctor checked out a Hart cut in the ninth, but allowed Hart to continue. The final round saw Smith grind along as he had the entire fight. Smith was simply the stronger man of the two. The judges gave Smith the SD win.
Smith now finds himself on track for a light heavyweight title shot.
Jesse Hart vs. Joe Smith and Steve Nelson vs. Cem Kilic Fight Previews
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in AtlanticCity, New Jersey will be the host site for Top Rank Promotions next televised fight card on ESPN.
Jesse Hart, a Philadelphia native, will look to avenge a loss that Joe Smith Jr. gave to Bernard Hopkins before he retired in December of 2016.
Both boxers are in the title hunt in the light heavyweight division and a win on Saturday could lead to a title shot in the near future.
The co-main event will likely be a super middleweight bout between Steve Nelson and Cem KIlic.
Other boxers on the undercard include Joseph and Jeremy Adorno, Chris Thomas, Sonny Conto, and Shinard Bunch.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Steve Nelson (15-0) vs. Cem Kilic (14-0); Super Middleweights
The co-feature of the night will be a fight between two undefeated Super Middleweights who are hoping for a title shot in the near future.
Steve Nelson is thirty one years old and in the middle of his athletic prime. He is six years older than his opponent, CemKilic.
Kilic will have about a two inch height advantage, but will be giving up about four inches in reach. Kilic is a former Turkish and German National Champion as an amateur while Nelson was a former US National Champ.
Both boxers have moderate power. Kilic has stopped nine of his opponents while Nelson has stopped twelve of his.
They have have been fairly active. Kilic fought twice in 2019, three times in 2018, and three times in 2017. He has beaten the likes of Martez McGregor, DeAndre Ware, and Joe Amouta.
Nelson has fought three times in 2019, 2018, and in 2017. He has defeated the likes of Derrick Findley, Felipe Romero, Oscar Riojas, and DeShon Webster.
This is a close fight to pick, as neither fighter has truly been tested. Nelson does train alongside Terence Crawford and was a US Olympic Alternate. To this writer, those facts gives Nelson a slight edge over Kilic.
Jesse Hart (26-2) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (24-3); Light Heavyweights
Joe Smith’s biggest victory to date was a stunning defeated of the legendary Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins happens to be from Philadelphia, the same city as Jesse Hart, who vows to avenge that loss for Hopkins when he faces Smith.
Both boxers are thirty years old and in their athletic prime. Hart will have about a three inch height advantage over the Joe Smith.
Jesse Hart has been the more active fighter of the two. He competed once in 2019, four times in 2018, and twice in 2017. Smith only fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and once in 2017.
Both boxers are known for their active and fan friendly styles. Hart has 21 stoppages on his resume while Smith has 20. Hart has never been stopped in his career while Smith was stopped once.
Hart also has an edge in amateur experience. He is a former US National Champ and a Golden Gloves champ. Smith has no notable amateur experience.
Jesse Hart has defeated the likes of Sullivan Barrera, Mike Gavronski, Demond Nicholson, Alan Campa, and Mike Jimenez. His losses were two close defeats to Gilberto Ramirez.
Smith has defeated the likes of Bernard Hopkins, AndrzejFonfara, and Will Rosinsky. His losses were to Dmitry Bivoland Sullivan Barrera.
Jesse Hart is from Philadelphia and Joe Smith Jr. is from Long Island, so Atlantic City will likely be packed with fans of both. This fight looks like it will be an entertaining one to watch, but the amateur experience as well as the edge in recent activity has to make Jesse Hart the favorite in this fight.
Ramirez, Hart Both Insist Nothing Familiar Will Come Of The Sequel
By Jake Donovan
Gilberto Ramirez and Jesse Hart fought each other just 15 months ago, yet both guarantee a limited amount of familiarity when they meet the second time around.
The pair of super middleweights once again collide with Ramirez’ title on the line in their ESPN+ main event this Friday in Corpus Christi. The bout is a rematch to their thriller last September in Tucson, Arizona, with Ramirez riding a 2nd round knockdown and early lead all the way to the finish line in taking a narrow decision.
Hart put up a brave stand in the second half of their contest—which, due to conflicting broadcasts, aired on ESPNews, ESPN2 and finally on ESPN by round seven—but the rally came too late to erase the early deficit. The second-generation boxer from Philadelphia has since fought three times, winning all by knockout.
That level of violence, he promises, is the version that will arrive on Friday night.
“We went back, looked at and corrected the little mistakes that cost us in the first one,” Hart (25-1, 21KOs) said on Wednesday during their final pre-fight press conference. “Those little things we fix, you’ll see that change on Friday night.”
The defending titlist not only believes him but is banking on such an adjustment.
“I’m glad to hear he’s ready to fight,” said Ramirez (38-0, 25KOs), the unbeaten 27 year old from Mazatlan, Mexico who attempts the fifth defense of the title he won nearly three years ago. “I’m thrilled the rematch is taking place here in Corpus Christi. The last time I fought here, I had a knockout. I want another knockout on Friday.”
Interestingly, the stoppage to which Ramirez refers—a 6th round drubbing of unbeaten but unheralded Habib Ahmed this past February—is his only bout to end inside the distance over the course of his title reign which began with an April ’16 points win over Arthur Abraham. In fact, his previous knockout victory also took place in Texas, coming more than four years ago in halting Fulgencio Zuniga in eight rounds in San Antonio.
Ramirez has since been extended the distance in seven of his last eight starts, none tougher than his fending off a determined Hart in their first meet. Just two fights have followed for the defending titlist; the aforementioned stoppage victory over Ahmed and a 12-round virtual shutout of unbeaten Roamer Alexis Angulo this past June in Oklahoma City.
Still, a statement-making performance awaits or so promises the super middleweight division’s longest-reigning titlist.
“I agree with my opponent, this rematch will be different,” Ramirez notes, though of course with a twist. “It will be one-sided, and all on my side.”
For the challenger, a win would mean much more than bumping off an incumbent titlist.
Hart’s father, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart was an integral part of the thriving Philadelphia fight scene during his heyday as a middleweight contender in the 1970s. His noted punching power has left historians to regard him as among the hardest hitters in boxing history; however, it never translated into a championship or even a shot at a major title.
Now battling health issues and not even to serve his role as his son’s head trainer, the next generation has made it his duty to bring greater honor to the already revered family name.
“It would mean everything to win this belt,” Hart admits. “Ever since I started boxing, me and my dad, we never dreamed of nothing else but being a world champion.
“I’m very blessed and very humbled by this opportunity I have again. I’m just going to go out there and put on the best performance I possibly can to bring home the victory. Come Friday, you are going to see a completely different version coming for this title.”
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results: Jennings and Hart Win with Convincing Knockouts
By: William Holmes
The Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey was the host site for tonight’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card.
The undercard was packed with local talent. Newark’s Skakur Stevenson, Philadelphia’s Christian Carto, and Millville’s Thomas LaManna were all victorious in their bouts.
The opening bout of the night was between Jesse Hart (24-1) and Mike Gavronski (24-2-1) in the super middleweight division.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Hart has won two fights in a row since losing to Gilberto Ramirez for the WO Super Middleweight Title.
Hart, the taller and longer fighter, kept Gavronski at the receiving end of his jab in the opening moments of the first round. His right cross started landing quickly and he was able to mix it up with some power shots to the body. Gavronski was bleeding by the end of the round and appeared to go down at one point from a right uppercut, but the referee ruled it a slip.
Hart continued on the attack in the second round and was loading up on his punches, which Gavronski was able to avoid with moderate success. When Hart did land, he stunned Gavronski.
Hart came out aggressive in the third round and was able to land a hard straight right hand that sent Gavronski right to the mat. Gavronski was met with a combination from Hart when he got back to his feet that sent him down for a second time.
Gavronski stumbled badly when the referee waived him forward, and rightly waived off the fight.
Jesse Hart wins by TKO at 0:52 in the third round.
Jesse Hart called out Gilberto Ramirez for a rematch for his title in the post-fight interview.
The main event of the evening was between Bryant Jennings (23-2) and Alexander Dimitrenko (41-3) in the heavyweight division.
Dimitrenko came out first and was greeted with boos from the crowd, and Jennings came out second to some cheers while being followed with trainer John David Jackson.
Dimitrenko was the much bigger and taller man, but Jennings has a very large reach. The opening two rounds featured both boxers probing each other with their jabs, but Jennings was landing the stiffer shots.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Jennings was starting to land his lead left hook and straight right hand with more regularity in the third round, which featured Jennings getting warned by the referee after pushing Dimitrenko into a corner.
Dimitrenko was able to score a surprising knockdown in the fourth round with a straight right hand, but replay showed it may have been an illegal punch to the back of the head. Jennings recovered well and was able to avoid the hard shots of Dimitrenko.
Jennings was able to bounce back in the fifth round and landed good body shots when in tight. Jennings continued to land at a higher clip in the sixth round and had re-established control of the fight since the knockdown.
Dimitrenko was able to land some hard straight right hands in the seventh round, but he began to unravel in the eighth. Jennings hurt Dimitrenko with a left hook that forced Dimitrenko to go to his knees. He got back up at the count of eight and was pummeled with combination until he went down for a second time. He was able to survive but looked hurt as the round ended.
The end came in the next round, as Jennings punctuated a dominating ninth round with two right uppercuts that sent Dimitrenko down again. The referee didn’t even bother counting and waived off the fight, much to the chagrin of Dimitrenko.
Bryant Jennings wins by TKO at 1:56 of the ninth round.
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Jennings vs. Dimitrenko, Hart vs. Gavronski
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night at the Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey Top Rank Promotions will promote an eight fight boxing card to be televised on ESPN.
The main event and co-main event of the evening will likely have future title bout implications. Bryant Jennings will face Alexander Dimitrenko in a heavyweight showdown in the main event of the evening and Jesse Hart will face Mike Gavronski in the super middleweight division.
The undercard is packed with local prospects and rising contenders which will help bring in fans from nearby areas to Atlantic City. Shakur Stevenson from Trenton, New Jersey, Jason Sosa from Camden, New Jersey, Christian Carto from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Thomas LaManna from Millville, New Jersey are all fighters with local ties that could be up for a title shot in the near future.
The following is a preview of the two main fights of the night.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Jesse Hart (24-1) vs. Mike Gavronski (24-2-1); Super Middleweights
Jesse “Hard Work” Hart is the son of legendary Philadelphia Boxer Eugene “Cyclone” Hart and recently lost a close decision to current WBO Super Middleweight World Champion, Gilberto Ramirez.
Hart, to his credit, has remained active since that loss and is back to his winning ways. He fought twice in 2018, twice in 2017, and twice in 2016. Four of his past five wins have been by KO/TKO.
Gavronski is a good boxer with a decent record. However, he is three years older than Hart and will be giving up about three inches in height and six and a half inches in reach.
He also fought three times in 2017 and twice in 2016. Gavronski did not fight yet in 2018.
Jesse Hart also has an edge in power over Gavronski. He has twenty stoppage victories while Gavronski has fifteen. Hart has also never been stopped while Gavronski has been stopped once.
Hart also has the edge in amateur experience. He won the 2011 National Golden Gloves Championship and placed 2nd in the 2012 US Olympic Trials. Gavronski has no notable amateur accomplishments to speak of.
Hart has beaten the likes of Demond Nicholson, Thomas Awimbono, Alan Campa, Andrew Hernandez, and Aaron Pryor Jr. His lone loss was a close decision to Gilberto Ramirez.
Gavronski has beaten the likes of Andrew Hernandez, Thomas Awimbono, and Brian Vera. His losses were to Dashon Johnson and Tureano Johnson.
Dashon Johnson is a man that Hart beat in 2016.
Hart appears to have too much fire power for Gavronski to handle.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Bryant Jennings (23-2) vs. Alexander Dimitrenko (41-3); Heavyweights
Bryant Jennings is a solid heavyweight boxer who previously fought for the title but came up short against Wladimir Klitschko.
He’s fought twice in 2018 and twice in 2017 and is looking for another title shot.
Jennings is facing a boxer that many consider to be past his prime in Alexander Dimitrenko.
Jennings, at the age of thirty three, is three years younger than Dimitrenko. He will also be giving up about four inches in height, but Jennings will have a one inch reach advantage. Both boxers aren’t necessarily known for their power. Dimitrenko has twenty six stoppage victories while Jennings has thirteen.
Both boxers have been stopped in their career. Dimitrenko has two stoppage losses while Jennings only has one.
Jennings had a brief amateur career but it was rather successful. He made it to the finals of the 2009 PAL Nationals and was a National Runner Up in the Golden Gloves National Championship. He also defeated former UFC Heavyweight Champion , Stipe Miocic, as an amateur. To this writer’s knowledge, Dimitrenko has no notable amateur accomplishments.
Jennings losses were to Wladimir Klitschko and Luis Ortiz. He has defeated the likes of Joey Dawejko, Akhror Muralimov, Don Haynesworth, Mike Perez, Artur Szpilka, Andrey Fedosov, Bowie Tupou, Steve Collins, Siarhei Liakhovich, and Maurice Byarm,
Dimitrenko fought three times in 2017 and twice in 2016 but has yet to fight in 2018. His losses were to Joseph Parker, Kubrat Pulev, and Eddie Chambers. He has defeated the likes of Derric Rossy, Albert Sosnowski, Adrian Granat, and Miljan Rovcanin.
His win over Miljan Rovcanin is contested by many though and that was his last bout. The bout was originally ruled a split draw, but Dimitrenko team protested the result. It was later ruled a win for Dimitrenko because Rovcanin had three points deducted and accordingly he should have been disqualified after the third point deduction.
Jennings experience in fighting a taller elite fighter like Klitschko might prove valuable in Saturday’s fight. Dimitrenko won his last bout, but didn’t look particularly good doing so. Jennings isn’t known for his power, but he should be able to box intelligently and win a decision.
Boxing Insider Interview: Jesse “Hollywood” Hart Wants Another Title Shot
By: Ken Hissner
Sometimes it isn’t easy following a legend especially if it’s your father. Eugene “Cyclone” Hart was one of if not the hardest hitting fighters to ever come out of Philadelphia scoring knockouts in his first 19 fights and 28 in his 30 wins. Jesse “Hollywood” Hart grew up in North Philadelphia and won the National Golden Gloves in 2011 along with winning the US Nationals. He entered the 165 lb. 2012 Olympic Trials with an 81-10 record and was on the USA team.
Hart was given four tough opponents in order to reach the finals in the Trials. First up was southpaw Chris “Sweet Pea” Pearson, 93-7, (13-2-1 as a pro) from Ohio who Hart defeated 18-6. Next up was D’Mitrius Ballard (18-0 as a pro) from Temple Hills, MD, who was the 2012 National Golden Gloves champion. Hart defeated him 20-8. Then came Antoine “Action” Douglas from Burke, VA, who had 120 amateur bouts (22-2-1 as a pro) who Hart defeated 14-8.
Photo Credit: Jesse Hart Twitter Account
In the semi-final Hart fought Luis Arias (18-1 as a pro) of Milwaukee, WI, who won the 2010 US Nationals against Hart 4-4 and Arias was given the win. He was 140-24 but was no match for Hart losing 21-6. In the final Hart faced Terrell Gausha (20-1 as a pro) of Cleveland, OH, who Hart lost to in the 2009 US Nationals final. Gausha had gone to Brazil and won Gold in the 2012 Americas Olympic Qualifier in order to qualify for the Olympic Trials. The final ended up 10-10 (34-34 count back; 3-2 vote) and given to Gausha.
This writer felt that decision was unfair to Hart who was already the USA Team member and should have gotten to go to the Olympics. He ended up as the Olympic Alternate to Gausha who went and lost in the second round. As a pro he dropped to 154 losing in an October 2017 title fight to Cuban Erislandy Lara the WBA Super World champion and hasn’t fought since.
Hart felt he had something to prove in the professional ranks after getting side stepped in the Olympic Trials. He left Northern Michigan University where his coach was Al Mitchell from Philadelphia and returned to his roots in Philadelphia. He split his time between returning to his old coach Fred Jenkins at the ABC Rec Center Gym at 26th & Masters in North Philadelphia along with his father Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, at the Joe Hand Gym in South Philadelphia. They co-train Hart.
Hart signed a co-manager contract with Doc Nowicki and Dave Price and signed a promotional contract with Top Rank. He turned professional in June of 2012 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV, scoring a first round stoppage. Then three more stoppages followed going into December of 2012. Hart at 6:03 has the physique to be a light heavyweight like a past champion named Bob Foster.
In Hart’s fifth fight which was his first in Philadelphia at Temple University’s Mc Gonigle Hall he met up with a spoiler named Steven Tyner, 3-8-2, who had fought ten unbeaten opponents up until then with the last five unbeaten. Hart dropped Tyner in the first round and went on to win an easy 40-34, 40-35 twice four round decision.
Six of Hart’s next seven fights were six rounder’s with one four. He won six of those seven by stoppage. Top Ranks Bob Arum knew he had a future champion in Hart. Matchmaker Brad Goodman was matching Hart in a way a boxer should in order to get to a championship. Hart was 12-0 with ten stoppages and ready for his first eight rounder. He had fought in Atlantic City, NJ, three times but still only once in Philadelphia. “I have worked with Jesse from the time he turned professional with Top Rank. It’s doubtful Ramirez would give him a rematch. Jesse is willing to fight anyone even if it means going across the pond to the UK (and fight George Groves or Rock Fielding who hold the WBA titles). With a win over Mike Gravonski (who is No. 11 in the WBA) on August 18th he will enter their ratings. WBC champ David Benavidez is fighting (No. 2) Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell (former WBC World champion). Then there is the other Mexican champion Jose “Bolivita” Uzcategui who holds the IBF title (who defeated Anthony “The Resurrected” Dirrell’s brother Andre in March reversing a loss in their previous fight by DQ. No. 1 is vacant and No. 2 is Caleb “Sweethands” Plant who may be getting the next title fight. Hart is only ranked No. 10 in the June ratings with no July ratings shown),” said Goodman.
Hart was matched with southpaw Samuel Clarkson, 10-2 (currently 21-4 as a pro) from Cedar Hill, TX, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas. He was a former 2-time Texas Golden Glove champion and a PAL National champion at 175. This bout would be for the NABF Junior Super Middleweight title. Hart had Clarkson down twice in the fourth round and won all three cards of the judges 80-72. Clarkson would go onto win his next nine fights before losing to current unbeaten WBA World Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol for the interim title.
Hart would post two stoppages in Atlantic City before returning to Philadelphia to stop Samuel Miller, 28-9, in the second round at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia. In May of 2015 in his first ten rounder he fought for the vacant USBA title against unbeaten Mike Jimenez, 17-0, out of Chicago. The winner would automatically go into the IBF rankings. The vacant WBO NABO title was also on the line which meant going into the WBO rankings for the winner. Hart stopped Jimenez in the sixth round to enter both the IBF and WBO rankings.
Next up for Hart in September in Las Vegas would be the son of legendary Hall of Fame boxer Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor’s son Aaron, Jr. 19-8-1, at 6:04 out of Cincinnati, OH. Hart would stop Pryor in the ninth round. At the end of 2015 Hart was dropped back to an eight rounder in a “keep busy” fight scoring a first round stoppage in Tucson, AZ. Hart received a right eye laceration in this bout.
In March of 2016 Hart would return to the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia against another “spoiler” in Dashon “Fly Boy” Johnson, 19-18-3, of Escondido, CA, who had won his last four bouts, including reversing a loss to Mike Gavronski, then 20-1-1. Hart found himself hitting the canvas in the tenth and final round to the shock of the crowd and writers. He got up like a champion should and went onto win by scores of 98-91, 97-92 and 95-94. This was the kind of fight Hart needed to develop on his way to a championship fight.
Due to a hand injury suffered in his last bout Hart would be out of action for eight months before returning to the ring in Las Vegas to meet Andrew “Hurricane” Hernandez 16-4-1, at the Treasure Island Casino. Hernandez was on a six fight win streak including defeating Russian Arif “The Predator” Magomedov, 17-0, who two fights prior to this defeated Hart’s stablemate Derrick “Take It to The Bank” Webster, 19-0, even dropping him in the tenth round. Webster would move up to super middleweight after this fight obviously too light to be a middleweight at 6:04. Hart stopped Hernandez in the third round.
In April of 2017 Hart would defend his USBA and WBO NABO titles taking on Mexico’s Alan “Amenaza” Campa, 16-2, at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, MD. Hart went onto stop Campa in the fifth round. This win set up a world title fight with WBO World Super Middleweight champion Mexico’s southpaw Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, 35-0 (24). The bout was held at the Convention Center in Tucson, AZ, in September of 2017. Ramirez’s promoter was also Top Rank.
Hart’s manager’s contract ran out prior to the title fight and he decided not to resign with Nowicki and Price. “I had nothing derogative to say about either Doc or Dave. I just wanted to be my own manager. I have a solid partner in Steven Andrews. He is a real good business partner of mine. He’s one who can plan my future for me,” said Hart. In talking with Steven Andrews you knew instantly he knows his boxing. “I have been with Jesse since he was sixteen years old. I have films that no one else has going back to those times in the amateurs. The Jesse you saw in the Ramirez fight was not the Jesse I know. Not having a tall southpaw like Webster to spar with hurt Jesse. He wouldn’t return our phone calls after committing himself and never showed up in camp. Jesse will be champ no matter whose holding the title,” said Andrews.
Hart was 22-0 with 18 stoppages. In the second round Hart was knocked down. At the end of the fight it would play a major part in the scoring. It was a close well fought battle with Ramirez retaining his title by scores of 114-113 and 115-112 twice. Hart wanted a rematch with Ramirez but he was told he would not be given one by the Ramirez management. Both fighters would return to the ring in February of 2018.
Hart came in at his highest weight of his career at 173¼ and it had some of us writers wondering if he was moving up to light heavyweight. His opponent would be Thomas “Awin” Awimbono, 25-7, of Accra, GH, living in the Bronx, NY, and weighing 179½ and a full fledge light heavyweight.
A year before Awinbono had gone the distance with Webster and unbeaten Caleb “Sweethands” Plant. Hart wasted no time in taking out Awimbono in 1:28 of the first round.
Just two months later Hart returned to the ring taking on Demond “D’bestatit” Nicholson, 18-2, from Laurel, MD. Among his opponents he fought to a draw with Immanuwel Aleem, then 16-0. Hart returned to a super middleweight 167½. It was held at the Liacouras Center of Temple University in Philadelphia for the vacant NABF title. Hart would stop Nicholson in the seventh round.
Hart is scheduled to fight on August 18th at the new Ocean Resort Casino in Atlantic City, NJ, taking on the No. 11 WBA ranked Mike Gavronski, 24-2-1, in a NABF title defense with the hope of entering the WBA rankings.
KEN HISSNER: Going back to your amateur days I remember seeing you in New York’s China town with the USA Team against the Chinese team. You were very impressive in winning your bout but Fred Jenkins or your father were not in the corner. Why was that?
JESSE HART: They (USA Team) pick the team coach and my father and Fred were not part of that team.
KEN HISSNER: The most impressive boxer on the Chinese team was Fanlong Meng who is now 13-0 (8), as a light heavyweight. Remember seeing him?
JESSE HART: I sparred him and had no problem with him. I think he has to come to the US in order to develop.
KEN HISSNER: In the amateurs I also saw you in one of your two bouts defeating Derrick Webster in a Philly tournament. As professionals the two of you ended up under the same management. I once did an article that the two of you were on a collision course. He was 38-2 in the amateurs only losing to you twice. Since you left that management has a bout with Webster ever been offered to either of you?
JESSE HART: Yes. He was mentioned to me and I agreed to fight him in my fight in August but my promoter couldn’t get them to agree to the match. (In all fairness to Webster though it was not publicized at the time he is fighting August 11th in Philadelphia)
KEN HISSNER: When you were training for the Ramirez title bout was Webster one of the people being a southpaw you used for sparring?
JESSE HART: Derrick agreed to help me prepare for Ramirez but everyone in Top Rank and even myself left messages but he never returned any of our calls.
KEN HISSNER: How has it been working with Brad Goodman of Top Rank being he is matching your opponents for you?
JESSE HART: He’s done a great job with my career. He knows what fights to get me better for my career.
KEN HISSNER: Of your 25 fights you have only fought in Philadelphia 4 times. Do you wish to have fought at home more?
JESSE HART: Yeah, but no. I don’t want to get that home mentality. I enjoy fighting in other areas.
KEN HISSNER: I understand the Ramirez camp is not willing to give you a rematch though you are still the No. 1 contender in the WBO. He recently in June defended against an opponent who is no longer in their ratings. The WBA champ George Groves is defending against Callum “Mundo” Smith and like you neither for some reason are in the WBA rankings. Is there another one of the champions that you have your eye on fighting?
JESSE HART: I’m No. 3 in the WBC. I would like to fight (WBC champion) David Benavidez but I think he has another opponent.
KEN HISSNER: WBC champion David Benavidez has a September 8th defense planned but with no opponent mentioned at this time. Smith is ranked No. 1 and you are No. 3 in the WBC. With Smith fighting Groves and you fighting three weeks before that it’s certain neither of you will be getting that title shot. Was fighting Benavidez ever offered to you?
JESSE HART: Yes, Top Rank were about to sign him but when they didn’t it fell through.
KEN HISSNER: In your division two of the champions are from the UK and two from Mexico with one from the US. Your promoter Top Rank may be the one of or the best promoter in the world. Do you have much interaction with Bob Arum?
JESSE HART: I talk to him and is a friend of the family. I can go to him direct. I’ve sat down with him in his home.
KEN HISSNER: You have a very outgoing personality which I believe is a plus for your career. Besides your father have you had or now have any boxers you admire?
JESSE HART: “Sugar” Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali. Ali was one that I admired the way he handled himself. Sacrifice now while I am young in my training and everyday life and I can live the rest of my career as champion.
KEN HISSNER: In your upcoming fight with Mike Gavronski who is No. 11 in the WBA rankings have you seen any films of him?
JESSE HART: I’ve seen a couple of films with Hendricks and Johnson. If I shows any kind of weakness he will press forward.
KEN HISSNER: With a win over Gavronski you should get into the WBA rankings. With both Groves and Fielding as the WBA champions and from the UK would you be willing to go over there if the opportunity was offered to you?
JESSE HART: Absolutely I would love to go over there. I saw Errol Spence go over there. I don’t care where I fight him. I come to shut the man down that I fight!
KEN HISSNER: I want to take the time to thank you for taking the time to answer questions and with one more question are you going by “Hard Work” or “Hollywood?
JESSE HART: I changed from “Hard Work” to “Hollywood” prior to the Ramirez fight which was recommended to me to add more flair. So that is what I am keeping. I want to thank you Ken for doing this for me.
ShoBox Preview: Claressa Shields vs. Tori Nelson, Hernandez vs. Garza
By: William Holmes
On Friday night one of the biggest attractions in women’s boxing, former Gold Medalist and current IBF/WBC Super Middleweight women’s World Champion Claressa Shields will be defending her titles against Tory Nelson.
This bout will be the main event of ShoBox: The New Generation airing on Showtime live from the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
Photo Credit: Terrell Groggins/Salita Promotions
Super bantamweight Angel Hernandez and Super Lightweight Shohjahon Ergashev are expected to compete on the undercard.
The following is a preview of the Hernandez vs. Garza fight and the main event between Claressa Shields and Tori Nelson.
Jesse Hernandez (10-1) vs. Ernesto Garza (9-2); Junior Featherweights
ShoBox has a long history of putting on “crossroad” fights between two young and upcoming prospects. A win for a boxer will usually catapult him to bigger and better opportunities. A loss for a boxer will usually derail any hopes of him obtaining a future world title fight.
The fight between Hernandez and Garza is a perfect example of that.
Hernandez is twenty seven years old and is two years younger than Garza. He will have about a three and a half inch height advantage and about a two and a half inch reach advantage.
Dmitriy Salita is the promoter of Hernandez and he’s been very active the past two years. He fought three times in 2017 and twice in 2016. Garza has also been active, but not as active as Hernandez. He fought three times in 2017 and once in 2016.
Hernandez has seven stoppage victories in comparison to the five stoppage victories of Garza. Hernandez debuted in 2009 but had a five year gap in between his second and third professional fight.
Hernandez has two big wins on his resume. He defeated Glenn Dezurn and Vladimir Tikhobnov. They were both undefeated at the time.
Garza’s only notable win was against Edward Kakembo. His two losses were to undefeated boxers, Jon Fernandez and Neslan Machado.
ShoBox fights are usually hard to pick a favorite due to the series’ history of putting on competitive fights between up and coming prospects that have yet to be tested. However, the physical advantages for Hernandez appear to be too great for Garza to overcome.
Claressa Shields (4-0)vs. Tori Nelson (17-0-3); IBF/WBC Super Middleweight Titles
Claressa Shields is one of Women’s Boxing Biggest stars. Her upside is so high that she’s headlining Friday’s ShoBox card and became a world title holder in only her third professional fight.
She’s a two time Olympic Gold Medalist and won it in 2012 and 2016.
Her opponent, Tori Nelson does not have the amateur pedigree of Shields but women’s amateur boxing did not exist in the Summer Olympics prior to 2012.
Shields is still incredibly young at the age of twenty two. Nelson is nearly twice her age and is forty one years old.
Shields has only fought four times as a professional but already has 2 TKO/KO wins. Nelson has twenty professional fights but only has 2 wins by stoppage. Shields has the clear advantage in power.
Shields was thrown to the fire almost immediately upon turning pro. She defeated Nikki Adler in only her third professional fight and was able to win both the IBF and WBC titles. She has also been active, and has fought three times in 2017 and once in 2016.
Even though Shields fought three times in 2017, she feels like she took some “time off” after he last match, in an era where many champions only fight once to twice a year.
She stated at a recent media workout, “”I am calm – focused – but still hungry like a challenger with the added confidence of being a world champion. I took some time off after my last win but I look forward to getting busy again in 2018.”
Nelson only fought once in 2017 and once in 2016. Her biggest victory to date was a TKO over Mia St. John, but Mia St. John was 46 years old at the time of that defeat.
Shields appears to be aware of the experience that Nelson possess and has been training hard for this fight. “This training camp I did eight weeks instead of six. A lot of camp has been extremely hard. But I’m so focused and determined on 2018 and starting great and staying busy. I expect my opponent to apply pressure, and to use some dirty tactics. She has more experience, but not that much when you speak of her amateur experience”.
Unfortunately for Shields, women’s boxing is not deep with talent, especially at the higher weights where she competes. This should be an easier win for Shields, especially considering the advance age of Nelson and Nelson’s lack of amateur experience.
But some big fights await Shields if she’s able to emerge victorious. Christina Hammer is a big name in the 160lb division in Women’s boxing and she may be next on Shields agenda. Chris Cyborg of the UFC has also been talked about as a possible future opponent.
As far as her future, Shields stated, “In 2018 I expect great fights against the best contenders. I expect to make history again on SHOWTIME and also looking forward to dropping to 160 to fight against [Christina] Hammer mid-2018. January 12th will be the beginning of great things to come”
Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Results: Valdez, Conlan, and Ramirez Entertain and Win
By: William Holmes
Tucson Arena in Tucson, Arizona was the host site for tonight’s broadcast of Top Rank Boxing on ESPN and featured two world title fights which featured two popular Mexican boxing stars.
The co-main event of the night was between Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez and Jessie Hart for Ramirez’s WBO Super Middleweight Title and the main event was between Oscar Valdez and Genesis Servania for Valdez’s WBO Featherweight Title.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing
The undercard featured several up and coming prospects, including Irish Olympian Michael Conlan. Tonight’s card was supposed to start on ESPN, but the baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers ended later than expected and the fight card started on ESPN News.
Michael Conlan (3-0) opened up the telecast against Kenny Guzman (3-0) in the featherweight division in a six round bout.
Conlan has 340 fights as an amateur compared to 47 amateur fights for Kenny Guzman, who also works a full-time carpenter.
The first round was more of a feeling out round as Guzman was able to land some decent shots but Conlan was clearly the better technical boxer. Conlan switched to a southpaw stance midway through the first round with some moderate success.
Conlan switched back into an orthodox stance and was sitting on his punches more in the second round. Guzman’s left eye was showing signs of swelling and blood was coming from his nose as he was taking some heavy shots from Conlan. Conlan landed a heavy right hand in the final ten seconds of the second round that sent Guzman falling backwards to the mat. He was able to get back up before the count of ten but was still wobbly and the referee waived off the fight.
Michael Conlan wins by TKO at 2:59 of the second round.
The next fight of the night was for the WBO Super Middleweight Title between Jesse Hart (22-0) and Gilberto Ramirez (35-0).
Ramirez was slightly taller than Hart, who was active with his jab early on. Hart was very active while circling and was able to stay on the outside in the opening round.
Hart continued to stay active with his jab into the second round and appeared to be a little hesitant of Ramirez’s power. Hart had a habit of ducking his head low when he gets in tight and Ramirez was able to take advantage of that with a short right uppercut that sent Hart crashing to the mat. Hart was able to get back to his feet and survive the round, but he was badly hurt.
Hart had a decent third round and was given time to recover from a low blow by Ramirez, but Ramirez had an excellent fourth round and appeared close to stopping Jesse Hart several times during that round.
Ramirez kept up the pressure in the fourth and fifth rounds and was landing a high number of power shots. Hart was able to slip in a few shots of his own, but he also lost his balance several times in the corner of the ring.
Hart may have stolen some of the middle rounds from the sixth round to the ninth as he was able to land some decent counter shots and avoid getting hurt again. Hart had a very strong ninth round with good straight right hands, but Ramirez showed a strong chin and was able to continue to walk forward.
Both boxers left everything in the ring in the championship rounds with both boxers landing heavy blows and absorbing heavy punishment. But Ramirez ended the final round as the aggressor.
It was an entertaining and competitive bout. The judges scored it 115-112, 115-112, and 114-113 for Gilberto Ramirez.
The main event of the night was between Oscar Valdez (22-0) and Genesis Servania (29-0) for the WBO Featherweight Title.
Servania is a Filipino boxer who trains in Japan. This was his first professional fight outside of Asia.
Servania showed a lot of head movement early on and had some success with his left hook, but Valdez was far more active and was landing good shots to the body.
Valdez was in control in the second and third rounds and simply out landed the constantly coming forward Servania.
Servania was able to score a flash knockdown in the fourth round on Valdez as he was backing away with his hands down. Valdez was in some trouble at the end of the round when Servania was able to catch him off guard with a good combination.
Valdez turned the tide of the fight back in his favor in the fifth round when a clean left hook sent Servania crashing to the mat. Servania was able to get back to his feet and slug it out with Valdez as the round came to an end, but he was badly hurt.
Servania may have stolen the sixth round with a round ending combination, but Valdez outworked Servania for most of the round. Valdez appeared settled in the seventh round and was the more aggressive fighter.
Valdez’s body work won him the eighth round and he was cruising by the ninth. Sevania, to his credit, never stopped coming forward despite the constant barrage of punches.
Servania was reaching for his punches in the tenth and eleventh round and never had Valdez in trouble. Vadez just continued to pile up the points by throwing at Servania whenever he got in range.
The final round was exciting as Servania came right at Valdez to exchange to start the final round and took several risks throughout, but his punches just weren’t powerful enough to hurt Valdez or put him down again.
Oscar Valdez defends his title with scores of 116-110, 119-111, 117-109.
Jesse “Hard Work” Hart’s Former Manager Speaks Out
By: Ken Hissner
On the eve of Philadelphia’s No. 1 WBO Contender Jesse “Hard Work” Hart’s world title challenge his former manager Dave Price spoke out to this writer. I put out a story prematurely before getting a response from Price knowing the two may have not been on speaking terms.
Price is a Philadelphia pastor who ran many amateur shows mainly at the 57th & Haverford Recreation Center where Mitch Allen runs the gymnasium and where his great grandson Damon Allen, 13-0-1 who is signed with Golden Boy Promotions trains.
When Hart turned professional Price and Doc Nowicki teamed up creating D&D Management. Price was the manager and Nowicki the promoter of record though they went to Top Rank to handle Hart’s main business. Word was Philly PPV promoter Joe Hand, Sr. had been offered a piece of the action but turned it down. Hart goes between Hand’s gym where his father Eugene “Cyclone” Hart the former knockout artist trains him. For the record this writer has been barred since day one from Hand’s gym. Hart also has main trainer Fred Jenkins, Sr., who runs the gym at 26th & Master’s Recreation Center in the corner. Jenkins is a well-respected person and trainer and recent PA BHOF inductee.
Being told from an undisclosed source Price and Hart were not on speaking terms anymore I failed to get an opinion from Price which was this writer’s error. When I had my article on Hart already submitted Price got back to me and said he had sent a comment that I failed to put up which was true. Price had this to say about Hart: We are very disappointed Jesse Hart did not choose to resign with us. We (Nowicki) guided him for his entire professional career point but nothing lasts forever. We were scheduled to have this fight in June of 2016 and Ramirez (WBO super middleweight champion) withdrew. I think this, Jesse and his team have devised a great game plan and he will show he is head and shoulders above the skill level of Gilberto Ramirez (WBO Super middleweight champion). If he is able to win this fight and with the departure of Andre Ward and a much improved Badu Jack, Jesse will be poised to become a super star in the middleweight division.
Philly’s Jesse “Hard Work” Hart – Put up or Shut Up Friday
By: Ken Hissner
This Friday over ESPN former Philly 2012 Olympic alternate Jesse “Hard Work” Hart brings his 22-0 (18) record to the Convention Center in Tucson, AZ, challenging WBO Super middleweight champion Mexican southpaw Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez, 35-0 (24).
Both boxers are promoted by Top Rank who along with Peltz Boxing and Zapari Boxing Promotions. This will be the second defense by Ramirez who won the title in April of 2016. Hart had been managed by D&D Promotions with Doc Nowicki and Dave Price for his entire professional career whose contract ran out recently. There was no comment’s from neither one to this writer upon asking them. Nowicki along with Jim Williams had Mike Jones right up to a title fight when he turned on both of his co-managers insisting they not be in the locker room or on the flight. Jones lost twice in a row and hasn’t pick many fights. The following are some of the comments from Philly area people:
“Only that Jesse is one of the hardest working, most focused fighters I know. He puts 110% into every work out,” said Frank Conto. Conto’s son one of the top amateurs in the country is a regular sparring partner of Hart’s.
Another comment from IBHOF promoter and co-promoter of Friday’s event, “It’s a question of whether or not Jesse’s intensity can last 12 rounds if he has to,” said J Russell Peltz. “Very very hot fight in Tucson Friday night. Jesse Hart promises to win as does Zurdo. Jesse says he is a Philly fighter like his father “Cyclone” and this will be a total action title fight.
“Zurdo” a great champion and is irritated with Hart’s pre-fight fireworks and says he will drive Hart straight down into the canvas,” said Lee Samuels, PR for Top Rank.
From Fight News writer, “If Jesse Hart can win the world title, he has the potential to be a true super star. He has the charisma, the personality and the smile of a true celebrity,” said John DiSanto (Philly Boxing History).
“Jesse has been able to stay focused throughout his illustrious amateur career all the way to his first world title fight. Winning the WBO Super middleweight title fight can be the best way he can honor his father, legendary Philly middleweight Eugene “Cyclone” Hart and pay homage to his trainer the great Fred Jenkins, Sr.,” said George Hanson.
“The belt is coming back to Philadelphia, the Capitol of Boxing. Gilberto is going down faster than the Titanic,” said George Hanson.
Hart is a very outspoken individual and was hard to pin down at the most recent boxing event in Philly. His trainer Fred Jenkins, Sr., had this to say “He has gone through trials and tribulations and is ready to go 12 rounds if needed,” said Jenkins.
KEN HISSNER: It’s been 5 years since getting short changed from the 2012 Olympic boxing team while fighting on even terms at the Olympic trials when he drew with now unbeaten middleweight Terrell Gausha, 20-0 (9), and split with Luis Arias, 12-0 (9) earlier in his career. You were out voted by 3-2 at the trials after becoming held to a points tie. Has this helped your drive to a championship?
JESSE HART: Yes it has.
KEN HISSNER: Who will be in your corner Friday?
JESSE HART: My father (Cyclone Hart), Fred Jenkins Sr and William Chivas.
KEN HISSNER: Do you think Top Rank who promotes both you and Zurdo held this title fight up?
JESSE HART: Yes I do.
KEN HISSNER: Any predictions?
JESSE HART: No.
Hart is flamboyant and a “Monster” in the gym I am told. His showings as a professional have not been sensational so for his sake hopefully it will all be on the line Friday. The “Philly Jinx” continues with no world champion’s today so possibility that will all change come Friday night! Ramirez hasn’t exactly been a world beater since winning the title. Both Hart and Ramirez have had hand injuries cutting down on their activity since 2016.
Jesse Valdez from the 1972 Olympics Was a Special Boxer
By: Ken Hissner
It was the summer of 1972 when this writer was watching the Olympic boxing from Munich, Germany. Who would know that the USA team would only win a total of 4 medal’s one being a Gold and three Bronze medals?
The one boxer on this team I always wanted to talk to was a Bronze medal winner Jesse Valdez out of Houston, TX. I started writing ten years ago and during that time I tried making contact with him but never was able to. Finally a week or so ago I saw an article by Rick Wright a Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer in New Mexico entitled “Boxing star Valdez still counting his blessings”. I was able to contact him and he gave me Jesse’s phone number and I took it from there.
“The Lord gave me a gift,” said Valdez. His first coach was Charles Cord.
There was one Gold medal winner on the 1972 team and it was “Sugar” Ray Seales from the Tacoma Boy’s Club that Joe Clough was coach. Seales would go into the professional ranks and end up with a 57-8-3 record with 34 knockouts.
Also on the team gaining a Bronze medal was future two-time world light heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson, 43-6 (35).I contacted him and he said “why would you want to do a story on me?” I said “you were an Olympian and a two-time world champion”. He agreed to do a story. I love it when they are as humble as Marvin was.
Another Bronze medal winner was Ricardo Carreras, of NY, representing the Air Force. After failing to make the 1976 Olympic teamhe turned professional in 1978 and went 2-0 (2).
Three other team members of the eleven turned professional who were Duane Bobick, of the Navy, 48-4 (42) who I did a story on, Reggie Jones, 16-9-1 (8), of the Marines, Louis Self, 3-2 (2), of the Air Force and Davey Lee Armstrong, 24-3 (6) who was also a team member of the 1976 team that I did a story on him and teammates.
Not turning professional were Raymond Russell, of the Marines, Louis Busceme, Louis Self of the Air Force and Tim Dement. “I love Jesse Valdez,” said Dement. Getting back to the other boxer representing the Air Force was Valdez who was the one boxer that stood out to this writer. My two favorite Olympians of all time were him and Chuck Walker from the 1976 team.
Walker said of Valdez: I was one of those glued to the TV in 1972 watching boxing in the Olympics at Munich. Everybody knows Jesse was THE guy. He was the darling that year. I was 14 and just started boxing. He was one of my early heroes. Never noted at all for power but could that guy box, very slick, clever and effective. I believe he won the Bronze but should have won the Gold. I got to know Jesse well when he was the assistant coach at the 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City. We (team) trained in Durango, Colorado for several weeks, then got outfitted in Dallas and then onto MC. Jesse was a great pal and coach. He related well with the guys since he was more our age. I remember one time we were riding a taxi to the coliseum for the fights. I was fighting and Michael Dokes was fighting that night. Jesse was trying to find a radio station in English and finally happened on a song by Barbara Streisand. Dokes acted like that was pure anathema and went for the dial. Jesse slapped his hand away and said “Look man….we finally found something in English. Let it be. You’re not going to find any soul music in this city. Dokes said “I don’t know what’s worse….no music at all or Barbara Streisand!!!” Jesse and I used to walk around the Pan Am village together just out of boredom. We went to a few musical acts just outside the pavilion on the grounds. Often we had lunch together in the big cafeteria. Jesse was the one that took me to the USA medical building in the village when I got my lip split by Clinton Jackson in a freak accident in sparring. He looked out for us because he had been there and knew what it was like. He knew it was a tough business and he tried to make it less so.
Valdez was also instrumental in calming what could have been a horrible situation when Tommy Sullivan won 100 bucks from Michael Dokes betting on pinball in the game room. Tempers flared and the two almost went together for real, but Jesse talked them out of it. Later that night 100 bucks came up missing from Tommy’s locker. Jesse, along with “Sugar” Ray suggested to the other fighters that we all put in a few bucks to get Tommy paid back. And then again the situation was controlled. I haven’t talked to Jesse in probably 35 years but have thought of him often and I’m glad to hear he’s doing well. If you talk to him give him my best and tell him I’ve had Burton Gilliam (from Dallas, TX) in several of my movies. Burton and Jesse fought several times back in the amateurs.
Valdez said he had about 200 fights but never kept track of his record. It was in 1964 that the then 16 year old Houston native won the National AAU welterweight championship upsetting Olympic Bronze medalist Quincy Daniels of the 1960 Olympics. Valdez would qualify for the 1964 Olympic team as an alternate. In that same year he toured as a member of the US team in Africa.
In 1967 Valdez won a Bronze medal at the Pan-American Games and was also the Golden Gloves champion. In 1970 he won the National AAU light middleweight title. In 1972 he won the Golden Gloves again and qualified for the US national team by defeating future world light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. “He cold cocked me and dropped me to a knee in the first round. I would return the favor in either the first or second round,” said Valdez.
At the Olympics in 1972 Valdez defeated KolmanKalipe (Togo) 5-0, Carlos Burga (Peru) 4-1 which I thought was a tougher fight than with the Cuban but Valdez disagreed, David Jackson (Uganda) 4-1, Anatoly Khohlov (Soviet Union) 5-0, before losing in the semi-finals to Emilio Correa (Cuba) 3-2. This writer thought Valdez won without any doubt.Correra also won the 1971 Pan-American Games and participated in the 1976 Olympics.
Valdez was in the Air Force never turning professional but even fought until 1980 at age 32 as an amateur. Junior Robles had him box on an amateur show against a Marine who outweighed Valdez by 40 pounds. “When I saw how big he was I moved and boxed him,” said Valdez. Robles also had him compete for the CA state amateur title in Sacramento where Valdez came out victorious.
“He gives boxing a good name because he was so kind hearted yet capable of destroying his opponents while staying calmly in control. Good manners are special and Jesse is someone worth writing about. Many years after the 1972 Olympics Jesse told me something to the effect that, I made an impression on him seeing me reading my Bible when we were teammates. What a great guy my brother Jesse is….he loves our Lord,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian at 112)
“I heard about him before I met him. He was like a legend. Everybody talked about Jesse. In 1967 or 1968 I saw him fight Joe Cokes, brother of world champion Curtis Cokes whom he out boxed.He was a gentleman, smart and a classy fighter. I was in the Air Force five years and knew him for about three years. Jesse touched a lot of boxers lives in a very positive way. He is a good friend, mentor and was an inspiration to me. I was proud to be his teammate. When he boxed he was sweet, hard to hit and he could punch…..hard. Jesse coached all the 1972 USAF boxing team in the National AAU,” said Nick Wells.
Valdez was asked to go to Poland on the USA team by Robles whose father had a gym that Valdez was helping with the kids. “The Holy Spirit said why do you need to go. Also veteran USA team official Bob Surkant who was a father figure to me advised me not to go. So I told Robles I wasn’t making the trip. I almost fought Robles at the 1964 Olympic Trials,” said Valdez. Other boxers who claimed to be asked but didn’t make the trip were Jimmy Clark, Marvis Frazier, Bobby Czyz, Robert Hines and Davey Armstrong. The plane went down in Warsaw, Poland, killing all 87 aboard which included Robles.
“My wife Jackie and I got down on our knees and prayed thanking God that I didn’t go. My whole life changed after that, my faith became my way of living,” said Valdez When he told me they were living in San Diego I told him we had a Calvary Chapelchurch there (Harvest Christian Fellowship) where Mike MacIntoshwas the pastor. Valdez couldn’t believe it for he attended that same church. Pastor Chuck Smith was the founder of Calvary Chapel. I’ve attended three of their churches on a week-end in 1989 after starting in Philadelphia. He and his wife Jackie (originally from Buffalo, NY) now attend a Calvary Chapel church in Albuquerque where Skip Heitzig is the pastor. They have two sons James (42) and Jeremy (40).
“My oldest brother (Steve) was on the Air Force team with Jesse and we met at numerous tournaments and went overseas together. He was the greatest amateur of all-time. He could beat you many different ways. I was in awe of him. We were roommates at the Olympics. He met my family. He was like a brother and really humble. He came back from Italy and gave a picture of him and the Pope to my father. He was someone you looked up to and wanted to be like. He was a real role model,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian)
Valdez told me “in 1972 I would spar with 156 pound team member Reggie Jones and I felt he stayed that heavy to avoid meeting me in the Olympic trials,” said Valdez.He said he worked with the Spinks brothers in 1976 and almost had to bring them home.
After leaving the Air Force, Valdez became a TV cameraman, first in Houston and then to San Diego. I told him I had notes that in 1974 he worked on the prison siege at the Huntsville, TX, State Prison. “I was sent to Huntsville where 5 prisoners were holding 5 guards as hostages,with (now well-known writer) Cal Thomas who was the reporter,” said Valdez. In 1976 Valdez working with the Spinks brothers and almost had to take them home.
In 1979 I was in Philadelphia at the Joe Frazier Gym where “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Marvin Stinson (1976 Olympic Alternate) and Leonard’s cousin O’Dell would be fighting in Philadelphia. The name Valdez came up and one of them informed me he was the one who started the bowing to the four corners prior to his fight. “I think I saluted but Correa did bow after that to the four corners. I would also go to my opponent’s corner after the fight before then returning to my corner,” said Valdez.
“Jesse Valdez, David Martinez and Mark Tessman were (boxers) who I wanted to be like,” said Termite Watkins. I got an email from him due to contacting the Texan boxers I had articles with and all Christians. Termite was 61-5-2 (42), and from Houston who fought for the WBC super lightweight title. He has a book called “Termite” about his experiences in Iraq as a pest control exterminator which is well worth reading. He’s a great friend and one of the most genuine and humble boxers I ever met. I’m honored to call him my friend today. We keep in touch on the phone. He may be the greatest amateur fighter I ever saw.
Valdez was kind enough to answer some questions.
KEN HISSNER: The first time I saw you was in the 1972 Olympics and was immediately impressed with your style of boxing. Was your coach Charles Cord responsible for that?
JESSE VALDEZ: In the long run I would say yes. I had him as my coach at a younger age.
KEN HISSNER: You winning the National AAU championship at 16 in 1964 defeating Quincey Daniels who was on the 1960 team did that qualify you as an alternate for that Olympic team?
JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Maurice Trilot of the Marines and was an alternate.
KEN HISSNER: Did you get involved with making the 1968 Olympic team?
JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Armando Muniz in the finals.
KEN HISSNER: What period of time were you in the Air Force?
JESSE VALDEZ: 1969-1972
KEN HISSNER: In 1972 you defeated Eddie Gregory (Eddie Mustafa Muhammad later) to qualify for the Olympic team. Was defeating him and Daniels two of your biggest wins prior to going to the Olympics?
JESSE VALDEZ: If I win I win but never think of who I fought.
KEN HISSNER: Were you still pretty active from 1972 to 1980 between your coaching at the 1975 Pan Am Games and still having some fights?
JESSE VALDEZ: I was an assistant at the 1975 Pan Am Games.
KEN HISSNER: Do you still stay in touch with any of your 1972 team members or have any re-unions?
JESSE VALDEZ: I don’t really except “Sugar” Ray Seales.
KEN HISSNER: Getting ripped off in the 1972 Olympics against the Cuban was that a deciding factor in not turning professional?
JESSE VALDEZ: I had two offers. One was to stay in Air Force as the boxing coach and from Bill Daniels owner of the Denver Rockets.
KEN HISSNER: How did the terrorist attack at the Olympics in Munich affect you and your teammates?
JESSE VALDEZ: We heard the gunfire. It was quite alarming.
KEN HISSNER: Not going to Poland in 1980 when their plane went down killing all aboard did that end your boxing career?
JESSE VALDEZ: It totally did. I was 35 at the time and figured at that age I was too old. Junior Robles convinced me to go but I changed my mind. He was among those killed on the airplane.
KEN HISSNER: I know you go back to Houston for some of the Golden Gloves tourneys. Are you completely out of training boxers now?
JESSE VALDEZ: Unless you’ve been in the ring it is hard to teach someone to box.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer questions and I have to tell you it is so rewarding to finally catch up to you.
JESSE VALDEZ: It was nice going back in time with you.
Philly’s Jesse Hart a No. 1 WBO Super Middleweight Contender Awaiting His Turn at Title Fight!
Philly’s Jesse Hart No. 1 WBO Super Middleweight Contender Awaiting His Turn at Title Fight!
By: Ken Hissner
The No. 1 WBO Super Middleweight contender Jesse “Hard Work” Hart, 21-0 (17), comes from a boxing blood line following in his father Eugene “Cyclone” Harts, 30-9-1 (28) legacy in Philadelphia! The elder Hart won his first nineteen bouts by knockout! In his twenty-second fight he fought Denny Moyer and both fell out of the ring and ruled a No Contest in 6 rounds. Moyer was knocked down in the first round.
When the son of the “Cyclone” turned professional in June of 2012 the concern of this writer was he would try to top that knockout record of his father instead of using all of his boxing skills. His knockout streak was stopped after his fourth fight fortunately. In a rematch he stopped that opponent. He has worked his way to rankings in the WBA No. 10, IBF No. 5 and WBC No. 13 besides the top ranking in the WBO a title held by Mexico’s Gilbert “Zurdo” Ramirez, 30-0 (24), who won the title in April of 2016 winning all twelve rounds over champion Arthur Abraham, 44-4 in Las Vegas, NV.
Southpaw Ramirez has not defended his title going on a year. He recently suffered a hand injury and was to fight on the Pacquaio-Horn card per Top Rank Promotions who represents both Ramirez and Hart. Ramirez didn’t fight in the US until 2013. His last eight bouts have been in the US except for one in China winning the NABF title over Australian Junior Talipeau in 2014. Winning the North American Boxing Federation title against an Australian in China? Go figure!
Hart won the 2011 Golden Gloves title qualifying him for the 2012 Olympic Team. He went to Europe and lost in quarter finals. So upon his return in the Boxing Trials he won his first four matches before meeting Terrell Gausha whom he lost to in the 2009 GG finals by DQ in the 3rd round. The bout in the 2012 Trials ended 10-10, 34-34 count back with Gausha getting the 3-2 vote from the officials. Gausha would win his first bout in the 2012 Olympics in London before losing his next bout against a boxer from India. It is this writers opinion at 6:03 Hart would have been a better choice of the voters to represent the USA team. Gausha is out of Cleveland, OH, and 16-0 (9) as a professional.
In the Trials Hart defeated four boxers who are all now professionals. First Chris Pearson, 14-1 (10), of Trotwood, OH, d’Mitrius Ballard, 15-0 (11), of Temple Hills, MD, Antonine Douglas, 19-1-1 (13), Burke, VA, and Luis Arias, 16-0 (8), Milwaukee, WI, who holds the USBA middleweight title. That is quite a line-up of boxers Hart had defeated to get to the finals.
Hart was 85-11 as an amateur wining the US Nationals and as before mentioned the National Golden Gloves titles in 2011. He is 27 and has fought in his hometown three times. He only had two fights in 2016 due to a hand injury. In his last fight he stopped Andrew Hernandez, 16-4-1, winning the vacant NABF super middleweight title and defending his USBA title. Hernandez had a six fight winning streak stopped including a win over Russian Arif Magomedov, 17-0. That title he won in May of 2015 stopping Mike Jimenez, 17-0, in Las Vegas, NV. He defended the title in September of 2015 defeating the son of Hall of Fame boxer Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, Aaron Pryor, Jr., 19-8-1, by stoppage in Las Vegas. Hart has fought in Las Vegas seven times. He has fought in Atlantic City, NJ, six times,
Hart was signed to a manager’s contract in July of 2014 with Dave Price and promotional contract with “Doc” Nowicki and Top Rank. They also have Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster, 22-1 (11), of Glassboro, NJ. His record was 38-2 in the amateurs losing to Hart twice.
Through Dave Price and Doc Nowicki this writer was able to get Hart to answer the following questions:
KEN HISSNER: I’ve known you for some time. The first time I saw you box is when you defeated Derrick Webster in an amateur tournament in Philly. I also saw you in New York win against a team from China. I believe your father and Fred Jenkins, Sr. train you now. Didn’t Chip Hart train you for a time in the amateurs?
JESSE HART: Yes my brother did train me for some time. I then went to Northern Michigan where I trained with Al Mitchell at the Olympic Development Center.
KEN HISSNER: I knew you spent time at the Northern Michigan University under Philadelphia’s Al Mitchell. How was it living away from home?
JESSE HART: Living away from was good in the sense it was like being in camp full time. I didn’t have the distraction of the street life and all it brings.
KEN HISSNER: I believe you divide your training between two gyms in Philly, the ABC Rec Center and Joe Hand’s Gym. Do you go away to a training camp for a bout and if yes where?
JESSE HART: Yes I train between ABC with Fred Jenkins and at Joe Hand’s with Danny Davis. Both trainers bring a uniqueness to their approach. Fred is an old school technician and disciplined boxing trainer but Danny brings his own style of modern pad work, strength work and he is an excellent wrapper of hands. I generally hold my camps at home but I have had camps where I physically left my home and stayed off site, trained at Joe Hand’s or ABC and then returned with my team to a selected location.
KEN HISSNER: What were your feelings when you fought Terrell Gausha in the Olympic Trials to a 10-10 decision and were not chosen for the 2012 USA Olympic team?
JESSE HART: It wasn’t that I wasn’t chosen or selected to represent the USA Team. I beat everyone in the double elimination Olympic Box-Off. That means I had to beat everybody and then fight the winner of the loser’s bracket and then beat him again. I did just that but after qualifying in the first of three tournaments overseas I was told that for the first time ever the USA Boxing would conduct something called the Re-Load. Basically then combined the national tournament with another box-off and I lost a tie breaker to Terrell. He then qualified in a second qualifier but keep in mind the top four in the division had already moved on. That left a bitter taste in my mouth but it doesn’t break you it makes you stronger
KEN HISSNER: I know you had a hand injury operated on. How is that hand at this time?
JESSE HART: My hand is 100%. I have a great surgeon who did a great job and I have fought since then with no problems.
KEN HISSNER: You are ranked No. 1 in the WBO. Have you seen the WBO champion Ramirez and if yes what is your opinion of him?
JESSE HART: Ramirez is a good fighter maybe even very good but he hasn’t fought the likes of Jesse Hart. I love that fight for Top rank, my fans and my team. That’s when the world will see that I am a bonafide super star.
KEN HISSNER: Do you have a time table when you want to fight for the WBO title if not now?
JESSE HART: I wanted to fight Ramirez in January of 2017. My management team contacted me and told me it should happen and I was hurt it didn’t but not really surprised. Ramirez wants to hold onto that title as long as he can.
KEN HISSNER: In your last seven fights only Dashon Johnson has gone the distance with you in Philly. There was talk of a rematch. Is that still in the works?
JESSE HART: Dashon Johnson was a good tough opponent and it goes to show you that when people fight Jesse Hart they train like they never done before. He came to fight, fought and lost. He gave it all against the champ and came up short. This Isn’t Rocky or the movie creed. You have to earn your shots at the champ. I don’t know maybe if his real name was Mayweather or Ward we could build another fight around that.
KEN HISSNER: WBC champion Badou Jack after drawing with IBF champion James DeGale vacated his title to move up to light heavyweight. Did you see the fight and if you did being ranked No. 5 in the IBF would you like to fight DeGale for his title?
JESSE HART: I would love to fight DeGale. Man I really wanted to fight Jack but he moved up. Anyone at 168lbs can get it and once I run through this super middleweight division who knows.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
JESSE HART: I would like to thank all the fans, Bob Arum, Top Rank, my management team Doc Nowicki and Dave Price and Team Hart: Cyclone, Fred Jenkins, Danny Davis, Hundew McDonald and slick Rick.
Manny Pacquiao Begins Training for Vargas Title Fight
Manny Pacquiao begins training for Vargas Title fight:
By: Matthew N. Becher
Eight Division world champion Manny Pacquiao has begun training for his November 5th fight against WBO Welterweight champion Jesse Vargas.
Pacquiao, who is a current Senator in the Philippines, will be training exclusively in his native country, as to not interrupt his public duty. The 37 year old is coming off of a Unanimous Decision victory over Timothy Bradley Jr. in April. It was his best showing against Bradley, who he fought three times, but many concerns have been starting to arise with Pacquiao’s overall look as he trains alongside being a new member to the senate.
Freddy Roach, Pacquiao’s long time Hall of Fame Trainer recently told the Manila Standard:
“I think he is getting a little tired. He looked a little flat.
The Work in the Senate is starting to get to him, so we’ll have to re-arrange
His schedule a bit and give him two days off a week instead of one.”
Pacquiao is sparring exclusively with Jose Ramirez, an undefeated up and coming fighter in the Top Rank stable. Ramirez agreed with Roach, in Pacquiao looking less than stellar in their recent training preparations. Is Pacquiao just too tired to compete as a top level boxer with his new duties as a senator or has age finally caught up to the legendary fighter?
Videos were released yesterday of Pacquiao training on heavy and double-end bags, and most people saw a very different Manny than the one that Roach was describing a few days earlier. Pacquiao seemed to be his old self, moving quickly in and out and flashing the speed and powerful hands that have made him a force in the boxing world for the last decade.
Eventually every boxer slows down, and Pacquiao may just be doing that. Working a full day as a Senator and then going to train for a top level boxing match at night would be almost impossible for any other person. But this is Manny Pacquiao and I believe we give him the benefit of the doubt until we see otherwise. His retirement was less than 3 months, and he will still have fought more times this year than other champions in the same weight class who are almost ten years younger than him. Time will tell, and we hope that the Pacquiao of Old is still inside this Old Pacquiao.
Don’t Call it a Comeback: The Return of Manny Pacquiao
Don’t Call it a Comeback: The Return of Manny Pacquiao
By: Matthew N. Becher
It is official, Manny Pacquiao is no longer retired. Pacquiao, who said he was leaving the sport after beating Timothy Bradley earlier this year has an official fight date of November 5th against WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas.
Pacquiao’s longtime adviser Michael Koncz told the LA Times “Retirement doesn’t suit Manny right now…Boxing is in his Blood.” Pacquiao, who has since become a Senator in his native Philippines is fighting for the 2nd time this year, which is more than almost any other major fighter in the sport today. Which doesn’t really even make this a comeback or a retirement.
Many suitors were in the mix for this fight. Four time division champion Adrien Broner was said to have priced himself out. Newly crowned lineal Jr. Welterweight champion Terrence Crawford seemed to be the top guy for the fight, until Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach spoke up about not wanting his man to fight Crawford, claiming that Manny would not be at 100%, since a majority of this camp would take place in the Philippines and take place around and after Pacquiaos senatorial duties.
Koncz and Bob Arum will be headed to the Philippines this week to speak with Pacquiao about where the actual fight will take place. Supposedly it will take place in Vegas or Dubai. Koncz said, “That’s the essence of the meeting (choosing location)….Not choosing the opponent. That’s already been done.”
Now the question comes into play, why did Manny even make this announcement of retirement. He is still on his normal schedule of fighting twice a year. He will take a pay cut from his normal $20+ million dollar payday from Arum. The fact that this is a Pay per view fight is another issue that people are taking up arms about. After a ppv of Algieri, Rios, and Bradley 3 all doing worse and worse, how can Top Rank look to make money on this fight?
Here is the point. Pacquiao is 37 and still one of the best in the division. He beat the brakes off Bradley for a third time only a few months ago. Most likely he will be a big favorite in this fight against Vargas and win another major title in the welterweight division. The end game is most likely a rematch with Mayweather in May of 2017, but, why Mayweather would take on an active Pacquiao after two years out of the game, with no tune up fights. Sure a lot of money will be on the table, but so will Mayweathers undefeated record, and a 50th win at that.
This is both a lead up to fight Crawford next year and set up Top Ranks new star. The Pay per view game is not doing well. The era of the Mayweather and Pacquiao paydays are over, but promoters still need to find the cash cows to keep them in the black, and Crawford may have been passed this time around, to set up his future next spring.