Two Harts are better than one
Tonight, Jesse “Hard Work” Hart will enjoy home field advantage when he steps into the ring against Samuel Miller at the 2300 Arena in his hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, appearing on a Top Rank Promotions’ card that will also feature undefeated lightweight Felix Verdejo. Hart is a fast-rising super middleweight prospect who is racking up wins and knockouts as he hopes to move to a perfect 16-0 in his fifth fight of the year.
Does a Philadelphia fighter with the surname “Hart” ring a bell? It should. Jesse’s father and trainer is Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, a 1970’s middleweight mainstay among the top 160-pounders in the game during his era. “Cyclone” left the game with 41 fights on his résumé. While he didn‘t fight for a title himself, he certainly faced the best out there in his time against Don Fullmer, Denny Moyer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Willie Monroe, Bobby Watts, Sugar Ray Seales, Bennie Briscoe, Vito Antuofermo and the best of them all, pre-long-reigning middleweight king Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Looking at “who’s who” of middleweight monsters that Dad faced, it’s evident that Jesse certainly has a corner man who knows a thing or two about facing top-tier competition. The way Jesse is progressing, he will more than likely face top-shelf 160 pounders before too long.
In recent interviews, both father and son talked about working on the facets of Jesse’s game that his dad knows are vital to making progress against the division’s strongest competition. “I have to box easy and box smart,” Jesse said. “My dad has always told me to remain calm and composed.”
Eugene knows honing all aspects of Jesse’s game is going to equip him down the line to properly compete with the elite. While Jesse is exciting fans with his KO power, having stopped 12 of his 15 opponents so far, Dad knows his son also needs to box and use his considerable skill set.
“I know that we have to add on to what we’ve got to make him better than what he is and that’s what we’re going to do for him,” said Eugene. “Now I see that because he was knocking everybody out; he was getting comfortable with just knocking everybody out. But we can work on these things.”
The dedication, power and skills that the younger Hart is showing are already creating a cyclone of his own among the super middleweight class. He certainly has the belief of his promoter Top Rank Promotions, whose boss Bob Arum has referred to Jesse as a “future superstar, a Philly superstar.”
Top Rank’s Arum has built many fighters over the years into regional stars. Arum knows that, if marketed properly, fighters can become franchises in their own hometowns. This was certainly the case with former Top Rank client, Ohio superstar and former lightweight champion Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini. Arum has recently turned another Ohio lightweight champion, WBO king Terence “Bud” Crawford into a hometown hero as well.
In recent interviews, Hart expressed his pride in performing in the very same city where his father lit up boxing fans years back. “My dad had a lot of his big fights at the old Arena in West Philadelphia; now I’m in a main fight at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia. It’s just wonderful for this to be happening for me.”
Top Rank seems excited at the possibility of touting a star being born in a true fight town like Philadelphia. “We are looking forward to Jesse fighting in front of a sold-out hometown crowd,” said Top Rank Operations VP Carl Moretti. Added Arum, “Eugene ‘Cyclone’ Hart fought in Philadelphia in an era of unbelievable middleweight talent. Now we have the opportunity to promote Jesse Hart, the son of the ‘Cyclone.’ We hope Jesse will be a future superstar, which will make all of us, including his father, very proud.”
Arum and the Top Rank brass see the potential for this next generation to do some great things for Broad Street fight fans. The way Jesse has looked so far, he is indeed convincing the “City of Brotherly Love” faithful that it will soon have another Philadelphia-based fighter named “Hart” to cheer for against the very best in the world.