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In a Mild Upset, Joe Smith Jr. Dominates and Outpoints Jesse Hart

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  • In a Mild Upset, Joe Smith Jr. Dominates and Outpoints Jesse Hart

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Mikey2.jpg Views:	1 Size:	242.7 KB ID:	15921

    By Dave Weinberg

    ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - Four years after beating the legend, Joe Smith, Jr. punished the protege' Saturday night.

    The Long Island, N.Y. light-heavyweight followed his shocking victory over Bernard Hopkins in 2016 with an impressive performance that netted a 10-round, split decision over Philadelphia's Jesse Hart at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

    "I was a little worried there when they said it was a split decision," Smith said. "That made me nervous, but I thought I put enough pressure on him and landed enough punches to win."

    Smith clearly dominated the bout, but was forced to settle for a confounding, split decision outcome. Judges Eugene Grant (97-92) and Joseph Pasquale (98-91) agreed with most ringside observers in giving Smith a decisive edge. However, judge James Kinney favored Hart by a 95-94 margin, drawing the ire of almost the entire announced crowd of 3,415 at Hard Rock Live Etess Arena. The angry fans even included Hart's promoter, Top Rank President Bob Arum.

    "That was a good fight that was good for boxing," Arum said. "And then you have a judge who screws it all up. I promote Jesse Hart, but it was clear to everyone that Joe Smith won that fight. That was just horrible. That judge should be banned from ever working a fight again. There should be an investigation."

    Grant and Pasquale correctly rewarded Smith for his relentless, aggressive effort.

    Smith (25-3, 20 KOs) took control from the outset, working his way inside and battering Hart with body shots, overhand rights and uppercuts that snapped Hart's head back and sent sprays of sweat flying.

    Hart (26-3, 21 KOs), who claimed to have hurt his right hand in his final sparring session, tried to fight back, but couldn't hold off Smith's charges. Smith nearly ended the bout in the seventh round, jolting Hart with a straight right that forced him to drop to one knee. Hart popped up, but barely made it through the round.

    "Jesse showed a lot of heart," Smith said. "I had him hurt a few times, but he had the will to make it through."

    Hart entered the ring wearing an "Executioner" mask as a tribute to Hopkins, who served as a mentor for Hart while growing up in Philadelphia.

    Hart, son of former Philadelphia middleweight Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, pursued Saturday's fight with Smith in hopes of avenging Smith's stunning victory over Hopkins in 2016 in which he literally knocked Hopkins out of the ring en route to an eighth-round TKO.

    Instead, Smith scored another win over a Philly fighter.

    "That's two Philly guys I've beaten and that feels great," Smith said. "I would have liked to have ended this one the same way, but I'm happy about the win."

    In the co-feature, Omaha, Neb. super-middleweight Steven Nelson (16-0, 13 KOs) used relentless pressure to wear down Cem Kilic (14-1) of Los Angeles and earn an eighth-round TKO. Kilic's trainer, Buddy McGirt, noticed his fighter was wearing down and wisely threw in the towel at 1:44 of the round.

    "Losing a fight is not the end of the world," said McGirt, who gained acclaim while in Arturo Gatti's corner for many of his fights in Atlantic City. "It's better to live to fight another day."

    The best fight of the undercard saw lightweights Joseph Adorno (14-0-1), Allentown, Pa. and Tijuana, Mexico's Hector Garcia (14-7-4) battle to an eight-round draw. Both fighters displayed grit, toughness and determination in an exciting slugfest.

    Beachwood, N.J. super-middleweight Chris Thomas (14-1-1, 9 KOs) earned a controversial, first-round TKO over Brazil's Samir Barbosa (37-17-3). Thomas landed about a half-dozen straight punches before referee Sparkle Lee jumped in and stopped the bout at 42 seconds while Barbosa looked on in disbelief. Fans responded by showering the ring with boos.

    "(Barbosa) staggered just a little bit and just wasn't answering back," Lee said. "Why wait until he got seriously hurt?"

    Trenton welterweight Shinard Bunch (6-1, 5 KOs) earned a bizarre, sixth-round TKO over Kenya's Dennis Okoth (4-3-1). With 20 seconds left in a competitive bout, Okoth spit out his mouthpiece and walked over to his corner, forcing referee Dennis Franciosi to halt the fight. Okoth told officials that he was feeling dizzy. He was taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center City Campus as a precaution. Bunch got sick in his dressing room after the fight.

    Welterweight Xander Zayas (3-0, 2 KOs), a high school senior in Plantation, Fla., went the distance for the first time in his young career with a four-round, unanimous decision over Corey Champion (1-2), of Louisa, Va. Zayas punished Champion throughout the bout, leaving him with a bloody nose, but couldn't put him away.

    Philadelphia heavyweight Sonny Conto (6-0, 5 KOs) was awarded a first-round knockout when Detroit's Curtis Head (5-5) took a knee after a body shot to his 271-pound frame and stayed on the canvas while Franciosi completed his 10-count at 2:08 of the opening round.

    Joseph Adorno's brother, Jeremy Adorno (4-0), gained a four-round, unanimous decision over Fernando Ibarra (2-3), of Fairfield, Ca.

    - - -

    A former sports columnist for Press of Atlantic City, DAVE WEINBERG has been covering boxing in A.C. and elsewhere since 1982. He's a member of the Atlantic City and New Jersey Boxing Halls of Fame and a multiple award winner for the Boxing Writers Association of America.

    Photo credit: Mikey Williams for Top Rank

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    What a remarkable overachiever Joe Smith Jr. is! 👏


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      Huh. How do you figure that?

  • #3
    Way to go Joe! ...Lunch pail no nonsense effort ...and really a part time boxer ..imagine how difficult to fight at this level and not be able to train full time ...thus the rough edges


    • #4
      Good observation, Mr. Teaser. If I had been in Smith's corner, I would have told him to go on his bicycle in the 10th, but I guess that would have been against his nature.

      When he's back working construction, I'm guessing he doesn't lollygag. He just strikes me as a person who adheres to the old saying "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay."


      • #5
        Smith looked really good. He is a dangerous light heavyweight and in some ways reminds me of Lucas Matthysse. What I mean by that is Smith, win or lose, always has moments in his fights where he hurts his opposition. Though for the record Matthysse was a much better overall boxer.

        And yeah I echo the sentiments on the scorecard for Hart. I had him winning only one round and cannot see any plausible explanation for that card in favor of him.

        By the way, Dmitry Bivol's stock has to be rising. Except for one moment, he dominated Smith. And not to mention too that he totally dominated Jean Pascal in 2018. Those performances by Bivol look much better today than they did when they originally occurred.


        • #6
          James Kinney who scored the fight for Hart should never judge another fight. I gave only one round to Hart. The commission should open an investigation of that judge NOW!

          Also, this points to the fact that it is always dangerous to dedicate a victory (no matter what the sport), because it only adds pressure. Hart was gassed after one round. He was just plain awful with no back-up strategy and was lucky the fight ended when it did.

          Smith has always had power and heart (no pun intended). He is dangerous until the last minute of the last round.
          Last edited by Kid Blast; 01-12-2020, 11:59 AM.


          • #7
            Smith Jr. has beaten (and been in w/) quality fighters.

            His trouncing of a wannabe X really wasn’t no upset.


            • Kid Blast
              Kid Blast commented
              Editing a comment