PHILLY BOXING HISTORY - December 14, 2018  
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Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Mikey Williams / Top Rank


On Friday night, Jesse Hart fell just a hair short in his rematch with WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto "Zurdo" Ramirez, dropping a 12-round majority decision to the defending champion, in the main event at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, TX. The fight was streamed live by ESPN+. 

Hart suffered his first pro loss at the hands of Ramirez fifteen months ago in his first crack at the title. In that bout, Hart had to come off the floor and struggled to get through the early rounds. However, he closed strongly and sent the message that the learning experience would set the stage for victory in the rematch.

However in the redux, it was close-but-no-cigar for Hart, who had the title within reach right down to the end of the fight.

Hart started quickly, looking mobile and energetic in round one, but Zurdo rebounded and took control with an aggressive attack that slowed Hart's offense. Still, the fight remained competitive, with Hart landing nice right uppercuts and left hooks throughout the first half. Southpaw Ramirez landed well with his own right uppercuts and mixed in effective right hooks as well.

The rivals battled back and forth, and on my scorecard, the fight was even after eight rounds. After the eighth round, Ramirez began complaining about an injury to his left elbow, and his corner applied ice between every round after that. Zurdo's left went quiet beginning in round nine, but he stayed in the fight with an active right hand. 

Hart and Ramirez split the next two rounds and entered round eleven, each with five rounds to their credit on my score. With his dream right before him, Hart stormed out for the eleventh intent on making good his promise to bring the title back to Philadelphia. The two traded punches for the entire round and it was the best three minutes of the fight. Hart clearly won the eleventh and edged ahead on points.

However in the final round, Ramirez charged out to save his title and fought like a true champion. Zurdo ignored his throbbing elbow and threw both fists non-stop. Hart took a number of shots but remained on his feet and fought back. However, he did not match the champion's output, and let the round, which was every bit as good as the previous one, go to Ramirez. The fight ended in dramatic fashion, and left the impression that the official score could go either way.

Judge Lynn Carter saw the fight, exactly as I did, a 114-114 draw. However judges Javier Alvarez and Chris Flores both scored the bout 115-113, in Zurdo's favor. As it turned out, that last round surge by the champion decided the outcome of the fight. 

"I won every round," Ramirez said after the fight. "I beat him clearly again. I hurt my elbow in the eighth round, but if I didn't hurt my elbow, I would've knocked him out."

Hart believed equally that he had done more than enough to earn the decision.

"It was no contest," Hart said. "I did everything to win this fight. Gilberto is a great fighter, and I have a lot of respect for him. He did have a great 12th round, but I came back to hurt him as well."

With the win, Ramirez, 39-0, 25 KOs, defended his title for the fifth time, and announced afterward that he planned to move up to the light heavyweight division. For Hart, 25-2, 21 KOs, it was a difficult loss. He failed to avenge his first-ever defeat, a setback that nagged at him from the moment their initial meeting ended.

On the bright side however, Hart again fought evenly with the best 168-pounder in the world, so clearly he still has a future in the division. Perhaps his third crack at a world title will be the charm.

The fight was promoted by Top Rank and was streamed live on ESPN+.




John DiSanto - Corpus Christi, TX (via ESPN+) - December 14, 2018