PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                             June 06, 2012


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Three Philadelphia boxers made their way to Las Vegas for the biggest fights of their young careers this week. Welterweight contender Mike Jones came west to fight Randall Bailey for the vacant IBF title. Teon Kennedy made the trip to battle champ Guillermo Rigondeaux for his WBA super bantamweight title. Jesse Hart, the amateur star who came "this close" to going to July's London Olympics, makes his professional boxing debut. All three bouts take place Saturday, June 9th, on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley WBO welterweight championship fight. If all three Philly fighters can win, it will be the biggest night in our local history in quite a while, maybe even ever.
Jesse Hart's pro debut is more of a coming out party than a fight. The son of 1970s Philadelphia legend Eugene Cyclone Hart, Jesse was groomed to be a Gold Medalist from the age of 8, and although he won the Olympic Trials last summer, Hart failed to qualify for the Games when he lost two key subsequent tournaments that determined the final lineup of the Olympic team. Word has it that Hart was robbed in his final fight as an amateur that could have salvaged his Olympic dream.
It was a big disappointment for him, his father, and Philadelphia. But Jesse Hart is a 22 year old kid with proven boxing ability and a fighter's bloodline. So after a brief moment of soul-searching, Hart embraced the idea of being a pro fighter, knowing that going to the Olympics was just one of many opportunities before him.
So instead of Olympic Gold, Hart turned his sights on the professional ranks. Hart signed with D&D Management, a local management group headed by Doc Nowicki and David Price, after being courted by some of the biggest boxing reps in the business. Hart also signed a promotional contract with Top Rank, one of the biggest promoters in the sport.
With Hart firmly in the Top Rank stable, the massive platform of the Pacquiao-Bradley event was the perfect opportunity for Jesse to turn pro. On Saturday, he takes on Manuel Eastman, an 0-1 light heavyweight from New Mexico. But the name or background of the boxer in the opposite corner doesn't matter. I'm sure Eastman was carefully selected to ensure a showy first start for Hart (his loss was by TKO one month ago), but he is a supporting player at best, a guy given the opportunity to be the first name on a future champion's record.
Hart's future looks bright. He is a hard-working and talented physical specimen, who is loaded with personality and maturity, and has seen it all as a world class amateur. In boxing nothing is guaranteed, but Jesse Hart's potential in the sport isn't a bad bet. Everything starts on Saturday.



John DiSanto - Las Vegas - June 06, 2012