Jesse Hart wants to change “the tag.” The fighter from the gritty streets of North Philadelphia has changed his nickname to “Hollywood.” He wants to change the boxing world’s attitude toward him as a perennial “contender” and nothing more.
Whether Hart’s light heavyweight debut over 37-year-old, shopworn Sullivan Barrera aids him in that quest is anyone’s guess.
Hart (26-2, 21 KOs) won an underwhelming 10-round decision over Barrera (22-3, 14 KOs) on the undercard of the Tyson Fury-Tom Schwarz main event before an announced crowd of 9,012 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Judges Eric Cheek (99-90), Steve Weisfeld (96-93) and Tim Cheatham (97-92) all saw it easily for the 29-year-old Hart.
Hart, however, looked like the same old “Jesse Hart,” a talented, rangy fighter prone to concentration lapses.
That didn’t seem to change during spells of the fight against Barrera.
Hart didn’t exactly help himself by being rocked by a pair of Barrera right hands in the fourth round. Fred Jenkins, Hart’s veteran cornerman, warned his charge between rounds that he needs to “listen and get back top boxing,” with the urge to stay more on the outside than on the inside.
Hart hurts Barrera again!!! #FurySchwarz pic.twitter.com/sYmjwT24Kh
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 16, 2019
When Hart listened to Jenkins, he was effective. A right toward the end of the sixth round had Barrera wobbling—but Hart wasn’t able to close.
In the seventh, Hart appeared punched out and Barrera appeared to be in survival mode.
A Hart short left hook with 1:04 left in the eighth caught Barrera and seemed to drop him. Referee Jay Nady called it a knockdown, even though it appeared that Hart missed Barrera and he lost his balance and his gloves cushioned the fall to the canvas.
Whether it was a knockdown or not was immaterial.
Hart was in control of the fight and he rode his early rounds to the victory.
“Hollywood” feels his power has come up with him from 168 pounds.
“I’ll assess my performance, I thought it was wonderful,” Hart said. “But I hurt my hand in the seventh round. I had one hand after the seventh round. My right hand was completely shot. After I hit him and hurt him, I couldn’t finish him.
“That’s why you saw the left hook come. But as you can see, I can punch with both hands. I think I’m a force to be reckoned with (at 175). I hurt my hand in the seventh round. If I had both of my hands, I believe it would have gone differently.
“The rest of the light heavyweight division, I’m coming.”
Hart did admit he still has to adjust to 175 and feels one more fight will get him to a comfort zone.
Towering 5-foot-9 super featherweight Mikaela Mayer (11-0, 4 KOs) is looking for a title shot after winning a 10-round decision over Lizbeth Crespo (13-5, 3 KOs).
“I am ready for a world title fight next. It’s time for the champions to step up and get in the ring with me,” Mayer said. “Crespo was a tough challenge, but I got through it and am ready to move on to bigger things.”
In a 10-round super featherweight bout, Albert Bell (15-0, 5 KOs) remained undefeated by beating Andy Vences (22-1-1, 12 KOs) by unanimous decision.
“I worked so hard for this,” Bell said. “In my first 10-rounder, I went out there and put my undefeated record on the line against a top guy. You don’t see that too much anymore. I’ve been counted out, and this shows that I’m a fighter to be taken seriously at 130 pounds.”
Vences excuse was, “I fought someone who didn’t want to fight. I was looking for the action the whole fight, pressuring him. I thought that I hurt him and connected on the bigger punches. This is the hurt business.”
In the first bout of the night, German heavyweight Peter Kadiru (4-0, 1 KO) put it on cruise control en route to a four-round unanimous decision over Juan Torres (3-2-1, 1 KO). Italian heavyweight Guido Vianello (4-0, 4 KOs) stopped Keenan Hickman (6-4-1, 2 KOs) at 2:22 of the second in a scheduled six-rounder. Vianello put down Hickman three times before referee Tony Weeks saw enough.
In a scheduled 10-round featherweight fight, Isaac Lowe (18-0-3, 6 KOs) beat Duarn Vue (14-2-2, 4 KOs) by unanimous decision.
“This was a great experience. Look at me, 25 years old, fighting in Las Vegas on the undercard of the big fellow (Tyson Fury),” Lowe said. “I hurt my right hand in the fourth round, so I was limited as to what I could do in there. But we got the job done, and we’re going to go back to the drawing board and see what it is next.
“I’m still learning in there, and I know that there’s room for improvement. On to the next one. It’s going to be a party tonight in Las Vegas!”
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