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Joe Smith Jr. defeats Jesse Hart, looks GREAT

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By Mark Eisner: Joe Smith Jr. (25-3, 20 KOs) proved to be too powerful for Jesse Hart (26-3, 21 KOs) in beating him by a one-sided 10 round split decision last Saturday night on Top Rank on ESPN at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City. The judges scored it 97-92, 98-91 for Smith Jr., and 95-94 for Hart. Boxing News 24 scored it big for Smith Jr. at 98-91.


Smith Jr. hurt Hart in the 2nd round with a right hand, and then later dropped him in the 7th. From round 2 on, it was Smith Jr. on seek and destroy looking to crush Hart with every punch he threw.

While the fight was one-sided from start to finish, it was entertaining to watch Smith with his pure power throwing devastating shots. The guy can really punch, and doesn’t care where he throws his shots. Smith Jr. letting his hands go, and hitting Hart wherever he could.


It was difficult to find more than one round to give to Hart, due to him moving all the time, and not standing and fighting. Smith Jr. showed no respect at all in Hart’s power, as he walked him down in every round, hitting him with hooks to the head and body. Smith’s power was too much for Hart to want to trade with him like he’d done in his 2 losses to Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez.

Smith Jr. dominated the reluctant Hart

Although one judge had the 30-year-old former two-time world title challenger Hart winning the fight, it was clear that Smith Jr. was the far better fighter of the two.

Hart gave ground the entire fight, and seemed timid and entirely unwilling to stand his ground against the hard-hitting Smith Jr. You can’t blame Hart for not wanting to fight, since he didn’t have the firepower to stand up to Smith. However, the non stop movement for Hart made it impossible for him to win, and that’s the disappointing thing. Hart has boxing skills and plenty of experience, but he lacked the courage to fight him.


Top Rank will need to re-think the idea of Hart fighting at light heavyweight, because he doesn’t have the power to fight in the 175-lb division.


Smith Jr. is a good fighter, but he’s not one of the premier fighters in the weight class. Dmitry Bivol beat Smith Jr. with ease in defeating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in March of 2019.

Joe Smith Jr. just wanted to stay busy

“I knew that no matter how hard I got hit, I just had to stay busy,” Smith said in reflecting on his win over Hart after the fight. “That’s what I did tonight, and I am coming home with the win. This win means everything to me. I had to make a statement that I belong at this level,” said Smith Jr.

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There are far better contenders at 175 than Hart, so it’s going to take more than beating him to prove that Joe belongs at the top. Hart came into the fight last Saturday ranked highly at #3 WBO, #4 WBA, #8 WBC and #10 IBF.

Hart beat 37-year-old Sullivan Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision last June. That victory had some boxing fans thinking that Hart might have the talent to win a world title at 175, but that wasn’t the case.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. In the opening round last night, Hart clearly didn’t have the power to stand and fight Smith Jr. In the early moments of the 1st round, Hart attempted to trade with the heavy-handed Smith, and he was nailed with a big right hand that sent him reeling backwards.

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After tasting a little of Smith’s power, Hart lost all desire to want to go to war with him. Throughout Hart’s career, he’s always been a fighter that comes forward looking to bomb out his opponents with big uppercuts. That’s always been Harts’ favorite punch in his offensive arsenal, but he didn’t even try to come forward against Smith.

These are the contenders that Smith Jr. will need to beat to show that he belongs at the top level:

  • Oleksandr Gvozdyk
  • Gilberto Ramirez
  • Joshua Buatsi
  • Marcus Browne
  • Badou Jack
  • Callum Johnson
  • Eleider Alvarez
  • Anthony Yarde

Arum FURIOUS at judge that scored it for Hart

“That judge should be banned from scoring a fight – and I promote Hart,” Arum said to ESPN.com on the judge that scored it 95-94 for Hart. “How can you ever score that fight for Jesse Hart? It was a terrific fight, good for boxing, good action fight, and then you have a damn judge who screws it up.”

Thankfully, the other two judges overruled the one judge that had Hart winning the fight. It would have been a shame if Smith Jr. had lost last night, as it would have caused a huge uproar with the fans.

After the fight, Hart revealed that he’d injured his right hand last week. He says he doesn’t want to use that as an excuse for why he lost the fight.

“I hurt my right hand a week ago. You can see it’s messed up. I don’t want to make no excuses because Joe fought a great fight,” said Hart.

The fight was too one-sided for there to be a rematch, and Top Rank likely won’t consider putting these two back in with each other. Smith Jr. needs to fight someone like Buatsi, Callum Johnson or Gvozdyk next.

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