Ready to rumble: North Philly boxer gears up for Vegas

From thePhiladelphia CityPaper piece by Andrew Zaleski:

A small of group of people has assembled around one of two rings at the Joe Hand Boxing Gym in Northern Liberties. The bell goes off, and the fighter, 6-foot-3 Jesse Hart, strides to the center of the ring.

The match is only a training bout — four, four-minute rounds — but important nonetheless for Hart. After three years as a professional boxer, Hart is the reigning North American Boxing Federation (NABF) junior super middleweight champion, with a 16-0 record and 13 victories by knockout or technical knockout. Now the 25-year-old fighter from North Philly is preparing to fight on his biggest stage yet: the undercard bout to the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 2.

Against undefeated Chicago boxer Mike Jimenez, Hart will fight his first 10-round match for the vacant United States Boxing Association (USBA) super middleweight title. Hart has been spending extra time in Joe Hand since mid-March, when his promoter — Bob Arum of Top Rank, which is co-promoting the Mayweather-Pacquiao card — called to tell him he was picking Hart to fight on May 2. It’s no small feat to be picked personally by Arum, a legend in the boxing world who once worked with Muhammad Ali.

In the ring, Hart starts slowly, weaving in punches and feints in an intricate choreography. Hart’s sparring partner, who is several inches shorter, is coming at him, working to close the distance and take away the advantage of Hart’s long reach. That’s when Hart quickens his pace in the ring, dancing almost. His boxing weight is 168 pounds, but he moves like a lighter fighter, and his left hand begins to float. Hart has a fast jab, affording him time to probe his opponent without putting himself in harm’s way. But it also gives him the chance to talk and taunt, and his father, “Cyclone” Hart in the corner is tired of Hart wasting time.

“Use your jab and stop [BS-ing]!” he yells.

Hart turns toward Cyclone to reply —“I got him; he ain’t got nothin’.” Then Hart lines up a combination: two short jabs and an explosive right hook that lands squarely on the side of his opponent’s head. “Woah!” Hart exclaims, satisfied with how his punch connects.

Jesse “Hard Work” Hart has been in training with father Eugene “Cyclone” Hart since age 6.

Hard Work Hart will be fighting in Vegas on May 2 at 9 p.m. EST with Cyclone in his corner.

The Hart v. Jimenez fight is part of the Featherweight Championship preceding the Mayweather v. Pacquaio bout and will be broadcast on pay-per-view.

Visit for the full story on Hart.

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