By John DiSanto – PhillyBoxingHistory.com
Photos by Darryl Cobb, Jr.
North Philly super middleweight Jesse “Hard Work” Hart gets 2014 underway on January 25th when he takes on Derrick Findley in a 6-round bout at Madison Square Garden Theater in New York. Hart, now 11-0 with 10 KOs, has zipped through every opponent put before him during his first two years as a pro, and made it look easy. The fighter certainly appears to have both the star power and the talent to take him a long way in the sport. However, Findley represents his first real test for Hart, after two years in the game.
Matchmaking in the first chapter of any promising pro career is a careful dance, an art form that requires finding foes tough enough to put up a decent fight, but soft enough to fold once the prospect starts throwing real leather.
Such has been the case with Hart’s first eleven bouts. The combined record of those opponents have been a below average 38-46-9. The best opposing record on Hart’s resume so far was that of his last foe, Tyrell Hendrix, 10-2-2, 3 KOs. As it turned out, Hendrix only lasted one minute and twenty seconds.
Jesse Hart fans are hopeful that he has the goods, and will go on to a long and successful future in boxing. All the signs are there – the size, power, speed, the bloodline (Hart’s father is Philly legend Cyclone Hart), the amateur pedigree, and the validation of Top Rank, who signed Jesse to a promotional on day one.
Hart looks like Philly’s best bet for another world title, but none of us will know for sure until the level of his opposition improves. On January 25th, we may start getting the answers that we seek. When Hart faces Derrick Findley next Saturday night, the Philadelphian will meet his best professional opponent by far.
Findley enters the ring with a 20-11-1, 13 KOs, record that is both solid and telling. Although the majority of his losses have come in the past three years, the Gary, Indiana fighter should still present a good test for Hart.
Findley has lost to quality fighters, including Andre Ward, Andre Dirrell, Fernando Guerrero, Elvin Ayala, Eric Mitchell, J’Leon Love, and Curtis Stevens. However, of all those big names, only Dirrell managed to stop Findley. And that was back in 2009. Since then, Findley has accumulated some mileage, but he is still a durable and able opponent.
Although it is likely impossible to find someone willing to place a bet on Findley next Saturday, he still has what it takes to serve as an honest and accurate measuring stick for Hart.
Given those big names on Findley’s record, Hart has a clear objective in the fight – to take Findley out in style, do better than anyone else has, and send the message that he is a boxer on the verge of big things.
“I’m pushing for the knockout,” Hart said. “To separate myself from the guys that didn’t knock him out, I have to knock this guy out. I think I’m different from others. I always tell myself I’m different. But to separate myself, I have to knock him out.”
Hart gets the chance to distinguish himself on January 25th at the Garden. My money is on the likelihood that he’ll look better than ever, and that the next twelve months will turn this prospect into a contender.
To read more about the Philly fight scene – past and present – visit www.phillyboxinghistory.com.