Derek will be ringside exclusively this Saturday night for maxboxing.com. He filed this report.
By Derek Gionta
World class boxing will make its way back to Atlantic City, New Jersey this weekend as two hard-nosed light heavyweights will headline the ESPN main event presented by Top Rank, Inc. on Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
Philadelphia native Jesse "Hard Work" Hart, 26-2, 21 KOs, will lock horns with Long Island, New York’s Joe Smith Jr, 24-3, 20 KOs, in the featured ten round main event at the Boardwalk’s newly renovated casino.
Hart, a once decorated amateur and now world ranked light heavyweight, looks to boost his career over the hard-punching Smith Jr. This match-up has created more of a personal battle as Hart will look to redeem the loss Smith Jr. handed to his Philly mentor and legend Bernard Hopkins a few years ago.
Smith Jr. sent the all-time great and 2020 International Boxing Hall of Famer through the ropes and into retirement almost four years ago. Hart, trained by his father and former Philly contender Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, will carry the city of Philadelphia on his back as he looks to climb back into world title contention following two tough losses to Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez.
Smith Jr. himself is anxious to regain momentum after losing bouts to world title holder Dmitry Bivol and contender Sullivan Barrera.
Hall of fame matchmaker Russell Peltz had this to say about the upcoming match-up.
"These are two top ten light-heavyweights in the world.
"The winner will move on to a world title shot while the loser won’t necessarily be out of the picture," Peltz added.
A union laborer by trade, Smith Jr. is also a hard person not to root for. Despite scoring the biggest win of his career over Hopkins, the man returned to his job the following week.
In sports, especially boxing, we often see the built-up and trash talk to excite fans and encourage everyone to tune in. In this case, the back and forth talk between Hart and Smith Jr. may have attracted more fans, but certainly did not require any added hype to those in the know.
"It’s a great fight between a better boxer in Hart and a guy with one punch knockout power in Smith Jr," stated Peltz.
I can say this much, if there wasn’t a single verbal jab thrown during the pre-fight talks, the excitement of this match would still exist.
"Hart’s Achilles heel has been his chin and Smith has the power to test it again," said Peltz.
Two world class, gritty men from cities equally as gritty, is just the kind of bout to not only intrigue sports fans, but also bring back some lost excitement to the city that was once the Mecca of east coast boxing.
Tune in Saturday night, you could be in for a great fight.