Super middleweight contender Jesse Hart wants to be a world champion, not only for himself, but also for his dad, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, the power-punching Philadelphia middleweight from the 1970s who never got his chance.
The younger Hart, 28, puts his world championship hopes on the line when he boxes Demond Nicholson, of Laurel, MD, in one of three ESPN-televised fights Saturday, April 28, from the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University.
“Before I’m finished boxing, I want to win the world title for my dad since he never got a chance himself,” Jesse said. “It would mean everything to me.”
The Hart-Nicholson 10-rounder is for the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title and will serve as the semifinal to the 12-round World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior featherweight title fight between champion Jessie Magdaleno, of Las Vegas, NV, and mandatory challenger Isaac Dogboe, of Accra, Ghana. The 7pm (EST) televised opener features a pair of Philadelphia heavyweights, Bryant Jennings and Joey Dawejko, for the vacant Pennsylvania Heavyweight Title, also set for 10 rounds.
The nine-fight card, which begins at 4 pm (EST), is being promoted by Top Rank, Inc., in association with Peltz Boxing Promotions, Inc.
After turning pro in 1969, “Cyclone” Hart knocked out his first 19 opponents and 17 of those fights were promoted by Peltz. Overall, Peltz promoted 27 of Hart’s 41 fights.
“I began watching fights on TV in 1959,” Peltz said. “I was in Madison Square Garden the night Bob Foster knocked out Dick Tiger with that big left hook in 1969 and I also was the Garden when Joe Frazier dropped Muhammad Ali in the 15th round in 1971, but I still consider ‘Cyclone’ Hart to be the deadliest puncher with the left hook I ever saw. No one in my memory could turn a left hook over with power and speed and accuracy the way Hart did. No one!”
One month after knocking out veteran contender Stanley Kitten” Hayward in 60 seconds, ‘Cyclone’ had his knockout streak broken by Don Fullmer in June, 1971, though he still won by 10-round decision. He followed by knocking out Fate Davis in five rounds and he was 21-0, 20 K0s, and heading toward the middleweight title when his world turned upside down—literally.
In September, 1971, during a fight with veteran contender Denny Moyer, Hart and his Portland, OR, opponent were trading shots in close during the sixth round when both men fell through a sagging rope and landed on the concrete floor of The Spectrum. Moyer injured an ankle and Hart was knocked temporarily unconscious. The fight was declared a No Contest. Two fights later, Moyer challenged world champ Carlos Monzon and was stopped in five rounds in Rome, Italy.
Hart was never the same after fighting Moyer, going 9-9-1. He knocked out Matt Donovan in his next match, then was stopped twice by Nate Collins and Jose “Monon” Gonzalez. He beat Sugar Ray Seales in the summer of 1975 and followed that with a career-best 10-round draw against Bennie Briscoe at The Spectrum that November. Knockout losses to Briscoe (in the rematch) and to future world champs Marvin Hagler and Vito Antuofermo ended his career in 1977 at the age of 25. He made one ill-fated return in 1982 and lost to Tony Suero in Atlantic City. At the end, he was 30-9-2, 28 K0s.
The younger Hart is trying to win a world title for dad, even if it’s in an era where world titles are more plentiful. “Cyclone” had only one champion to deal with—Monzon–and there were plenty of quality challengers around—Briscoe, Tom Bogs, Emile Griffith, Jean-Claude Bouttier, Jose Napoles, Tony Mundine.
Jesse fought bravely last September in Tucson, AZ, getting off the canvas in round two to give Gilberto Ramirez all he could handling before losing a 12-round decision for the WBO 168-pound title. He is back as the No. 1 contender for Ramirez and as high as No. 3 for WBC champion David Benavidez.
If he is successful against Nicholson, chances are Hart will find himself in another world championship fight before the end of 2018.
And that should make him and dad happy.