photos by “Sugar” Ray Bailey / www.pound4pound.com
Friday night’s event at the 2300 Arena was set up to be a showcase for Jesse Hart. In the weeks before the bout, Peltz Boxing and BAM Boxing were pulling every move in the book to draw a crowd to this local fight card. The 1,500+ seat venue in South Philadelphia was filled to the brim to see the #HartoftheCity homecoming.
Those “in-the-know” were expecting a blowout over unknown Dashon Johnson. But the prelude to bolster Hart as a worthy world title challenger was far from smooth sailing. This turned into an excellent two-way fight filled with bombs and drama, coming within a hair of ending in disaster for the local favorite.
Admittedly, I am one of the rare few who had little interest in this fight when it was first announced. Yes, I’ve known Jesse since he was a teenager with dreams of being an Olympian. We actually did the first ever boxing video workout in the era of internet media. This video with Jesse and his brother Chip from 2007 has generated nearly 12,000 views world-wide.
Over the years I’ve watched Jesse come up the ranks and build a record around the country. I’m at the point where I want to find out if we have a future world titlist on our hands or a good young prospect who would rates below other recent achievers in this weight class such as Charles Brewer, Yusaf Mack and LaJuan Simon. Rumor had it that Hart is seriously being considered as the first opponent for the winner of the upcoming WBO Super Middleweight title fight between Arthur Abraham and Gilberto Ramirez.
I have favorable views of Peltz Boxing and the work Brittany Rogers is doing but a fight against an undersized boxer with a bad record who is competing out of his weight class didn’t inspire me to write.
Combine that with March Madness and Phillies Spring Training in Clearwater on St. Paddy’s Day weekend, no way was I staying in Philly, even with the option of covered admission and a comped hotel room.
After spending my warm spring day away from work, watching the Phillies in the sunshine and following it up with a lot of college basketball, I called it an early night.
At the last-minute, I decided to cough up $14.99 to watch most of this fight card of gfl.tv – it was money well spent.
Nine fights on the card, most of the ones I fully watched were pretty good. The main event was definitely a pleasant surprise – though I wonder what Top Rank Boxing head Bob Arum is thinking today after sending one of his prized prospects to Philly and coming very close to taking a horrible loss.
UPDATE: Arum emailed me on Sunday evening after the fight to say “If Gilberto Ramirez wins the title from Abraham on April9,we can look to Jesse for his challenger.”
For a good portion of the 10 round fight, Hart hammered Dashon Johnson of Escondito California with a mix of jabs, hooks, straight shots and upper cuts. The part-time MMA contestant didn’t get the memo that he was brought in to be cannon fodder. The California “Fly Boy” withstood a lot of clean power punches and fought back with everything he had.
The no-neck Johnson scored two hard knockdowns in this bout (the first may have come a couple milliseconds after the bell sounded to end the round) with the main highlight being when he nailed Hart with a last ditch Hail Mary of a wide right hook that nearly turned into a buzzer beater. Hart was flat on the mat as time was about to expire. “HardWork” Hart was shaken but was able to rise to his feet with :2 remaining in the bout. He walked to referee Ernie Shariff and was allowed to continue. I couldn’t help but think that this is the way the first fight between Meldrick Taylor and Julio Caesar Chavez should have ended.
Earlier in the day, Temple University was knocked out of the NCAA tournament by the Iowa Hawkeyes with a tip-in basket as time expired. The two Temple alums running this event were fortunately spared a second serving of snakebite.
In the end, Hart earned a unanimous decision victory with the judges running his record to 20-0 with 16 ko’s. Final scores read 98-91, 97-92 and a much more appropriate 95-94. Whoever saw this fight nine rounds-to-one should be investigated.
His local cheerleaders are commending the show of bravery in the face of adversity, saying this was exactly the type of fight he needed. The national experts are insinuating that he should steer clear of anyone rated in the top 15 for the time being.
With the hard luck loss, Johnson falls to an even .500 at 19 wins, 19 losses, 3 draws with 6 ko’s.
This fight will get strong consideration for Local Fight of the Year but did it diminish Hart’s shine in the process?
What were your thoughts on the fight and event that sold around 1,500 tickets?
Check out this great photo gallery from “Sugar” Ray Bailey / pound4pound.com http://www.pound4pound.com/FightReport/2016/HartvsJohnson.htm
On the under card:
It may be the end of the line for one of Philly’s biggest ticket sellers. Durable yet unspectacular journeyman Ramesis Gil (10-13-5, 6 KO’s) stopped Victor Vasquez (19-11-1, 9 so’s) in round two of their scheduled 6 rounder. Vasquez felt that it was a quick stoppage and the crowd booed loudly, but he was in trouble when the ref stepped in.
South West Philly welterweight Greg Jackson (6-2-1, 2 KO’s)won a war over Bronx New York native Gladwin Ortiz (3-1, 3 KO’s). It was a very good fight – Jackson almost got put out late but rallied back to secure a fair split decision win. I’d like to see him again.
North East Philly super lightweight Scott Kelleher (4-0, 2 KOs) continues his rise with a first round stoppage over Josue Guerrero (2-7, 2 ko’s).
North Philly’s Jerome Conquest (5-1, 1 ko) won a clear unanimous decision over Phoenixville’s Jules Blackwell (8-5-2, 3 KO’s)in a battle of southpaw lightweights.
The replay will be on Comcast Sports soon. Keep an eye out. #HTOC