For Philadelphia’s Jesse Hart(26-2, 21 KOs), fighting Joe Smith Jr.(24-3, 20 KOs) on January 11 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City(ESPN), does two things for him. It allows him to continue to make his presence known at light heavyweight, and maybe more importantly, it will give him an opportunity to get revenge.
Back in 2016, Smith battled boxing and Philly legend, Bernard Hopkins. The then 51-year-old Hopkins was looking to end his career in style, but Smith had other plans. Smith would get the best of Hopkins for most of the fight before knocking him out of the ring and stopping Hopkins. What happened that night is a big motivator for Hart, and he hopes to get revenge for Hopkins and the city of Philadelphia.
“This is personal Bernard inspired me to be what I became,” Hart recently said. “I wouldn’t be right if I didn’t avenge that defeat. I can’t move forward unless I beat him. This is a Philly thing. It’s more personal than business for me. I want a world title shot at light heavyweight, but I have to get through this guy first.
Smith has lost two out of his last three fights but has the opportunity to get back on track against Hart, and according to Smith, he does not care about the personal stuff.
“I am focused and ready to bring everything I have,” Smith said. “Jesse Hart might want to make this personal, but I didn’t even know who he was before this fight was brought up. I am ready for this. It is going to be a great night.”
This is Hart’s second fight at 175 as he defeated Sullivan Barrera back in June. If Hart can win this fight, maybe a title shot at 175 could be in his future. Regarding Smith, he needs to win this fight if he hopes to continue making noise in the light heavyweight division.
This fight has all the makings of being very fan-friendly. Plus, you add in the revenge factor. The fans in Atlantic City should most definitely get their money’s worth.