PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - December 13, 2018  
Home Boxers Fights Arenas Non-Boxers Gyms Relics More About Contact


Story by John DiSanto
File Photos by Darryl Cobb Jr. /


On consecutive nights, two of Philly’s current best will fight in world championship title bouts, with both events “televised” live, not by huge cable networks, but instead by two competing streaming services.  This one-two punch intersection between the sport we love and technology is clearly a first in Philly boxing history and an indication of where our sport is going. 

In Friday night’s offering, North Philly super middleweight Jesse Hart, 25-1, 21 KOs, faces WBO champion Gilberto Ramirez, 38-0, 25 KOs.  The fight will be streamed live on ESPN+.  The following night, Philly’s lone world champion Tevin Farmer 27-4-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC, defends his title against Francisco Fonseca of Costa Rica, 22-1-1, 16 KOs.  Their bout will be featured on the DAZN streaming service. 

Jesse Hart, has wanted to get back in the ring with WBO super middleweight king Gilberto Ramirez ever since their initial meeting fifteen months ago, resulting in Hart’s first-ever loss as a professional.    

In that first encounter, Hart, in his first crack at a title, almost checked out in round two, when southpaw “Zurdo” caught him with a right hook that send him to the canvas.  Hart got up, but was staggered again in the fourth round.  Things suddenly looked bleak for Hart, the son of Philly legend Cyclone Hart.  However, Jesse dusted himself off and showed a durability that we only hoped he had inside him.  Jesse not only survived these pitfalls, he began boxing smartly and effectively. 

Hart went the full distance with Ramirez, and actually brought the fight to a rather close score by the end.  Ramirez defended his crown by scores of 114-113 and 115-112 twice.  The test was a terrific learning experience for Hart and suggested, that with a few adjustments, things might go his way in a rematch. 

From that point on, Hart was on a mission to land his second chance with Zurdo, the best 168-pounder in the world.  Every subsequent fight for Hart came with a message for the undefeated Mexican champion.  Hart fought three times in 2018, winning all by knockout.  Each time, after the fight, Jesse called out his rival and urged him to agree to a rematch. 

Just when it appeared that 2018 would wind down without the rematch happening, the fight was made for Friday night in Corpus Christi, TX.  Hart finally had the fight, and the chance, he was so hungry for. 

“Things will be different because we corrected the little mistakes that didn't go right the first time,” Hart said in anticipation of the rematch.  “I believe you will see a change in the outcome."

All of Philly hopes so.  There is still a great deal of love and respect for Jesse’s father, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, a Philadelphia middleweight who fought some of the best in the world but never earned a shot at the title.  Cyclone’s resume is filled with legendary names like Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Bennie Briscoe, Vito Antuofermo, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, Sugar Ray Seales, Boogaloo, Kitten Hayward, Watts and Willie “the Worm” Monroe.  A victory for Jesse Hart on Friday would mean the world to the beloved Cyclone, their family legacy, and the Philadelphia boxing community. 

On Saturday night, Boxing’s biggest box office star, Canelo Alvarez, make his debut on the DAZN service, in the first of a lucrative eleven-fight deal, when he takes on little-known Rocky Fielding of the UK, in a super middleweight title bout, at New York’s Madison Square Garden. 

On the same card, North Philly’s Tevin Farmer, the current IBF junior lightweight world champion, makes the second defense of his relatively new title when he faces Francisco Fonseca of Costa Rica.  The American Idol won his championship in August with landslide points win over tough Billy Dib in Australia.  The belt-winning bout came after a long road to the top for Farmer, who started as a 4-3-1 late bloomer. 

However, after that ordinary start, Farmer really kicked his career into high gear in 2013, winning eighteen straight.  The streak established him as a contender and made it clear that Farmer was one of Philly’s best boxers. 

One year ago, Farmer vied for a title for the first time, facing Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa for the vacant IBF title.  Ogawa was given a controversial decision in a fight most felt Farmer had won.  But the result was later changed to a No Contest after Ogawa failed a post-fight drug test.  Farmer remained the top contender and eventually secured his title belt eight months later against Dib, in another bout for the vacant IBF title. 

In October, a busy Farmer stopped Irishman James Tennyson in Boston to defend the title for the first time.  Tevin showed an emerging power, dropping the foe twice in the fight, and ending the contest with a body shot.  The more Farmer fights, the better he looks, clearly still developing into his career prime. 

No stranger to the evolution of boxing’s changing technology, Farmer appeared on three different platforms in his last three bouts.  He fought Ogawa on HBO, then Dib on ESPN+, and most recently, Tennyson on DAZN.  The fight with Tennyson was the first of a four-fight deal with DAZN for Farmer. 

Against the little-know Fonseca, Farmer appears to be matched favorably.  Fonseca’s, possesses a nice-looking record, but his best-known moment, if not his only-known moment, was a KO loss to Gervonta Davis in 2017.  Against Farmer, he’ll serve as a nice measuring stick for the young champion, who yearns for a fight with Davis himself. 

Farmer and Davis have been circling one another for the last two years, trash-talking on social media, and face-to-face, whenever the opportunity arises.  A match between them would be a good one, but at the moment, a few pounds separate the two.  But that is a problem that can easily be fixed with a little cash. 

“Do I want it?,” Farmer said about a fight with Davis.  “Absolutely it’s a fight we want.  But he got a lot of problems now.  He got a lot going on.  He’s got to get himself together, before he comes this way.” 

Certainly in 2019, the likelihood of that fight happening is pretty good.  It’s a fight that many would love to see.  But first, comes Fonseca, and Farmer’s further development as a champion fighter.  He has progressed well, showing more offense, while retaining his exceptional defense.  Each fight seems to be a new chance for Farmer to send a message to the top fighters in the world, as well as his growing fan base. 

By Sunday morning, fans who have adapted to the new wave of boxing – the world of streaming – and ponied up the $4.99 subscription fee for ESPN+ and the $9.99 monthly charge for DAZN, will know if Philly has two world champions to boast about.  Those who have yet to adapt to the new way, will miss all the action.  So, it’s a big weekend for Philly fans, and for the future of the sport. 




John DiSanto - Philadelphia - December 13, 2018