Jesse Hart looked to avenge Bernard Hopkins’ 2016 loss to Joe Smith by beating the man that retired the Philadelphia legend, but Smith had other plans.
Smith bullied and punished Hart for 10 rounds, even dropping him in the seventh round en route to a split decision win in the main event of a Top Rank on ESPN broadcast from Atlantic City. Smith was victorious on two of the three scorecards while one judge had Hart winning 95-94.
The controversy surrounding the fight was that lone 95-94 scorecard from judge James Kinney. The scorecard was panned by the entire boxing community as virtually everyone had Smith winning comfortably on the scorecards, including Hart’s promoter Bob Arum, who was livid after seeing Kinney’s scorecard.
From the start, Smith chased Hart around the ring, trying to corner the former super middleweight title challenger. Hart was able to make Smith miss a lot in the first round, but after that, Smith did land several power punches throughout the fight. Aside from a series of punches Hart landed on Smith in the third round that stunned him, there was little that Hart did that would convince anyone that he was the deserving victor on the scorecards.
Late in the seventh round, Smith was able to drop Hart to one knee with a right hand and although Hart got back up, Smith nearly stopped him but he was saved by the bell.
The narrative of the fight heading in was Hart looking to beat the man who retired Hopkins when Smith knocked Hopkins out of the ring back in 2016. Hart had been in line for a potential light heavyweight title shot down the road, but will now have to regroup. The win was a solid bounceback victory for Smith as he came into the bout having lost two of his last three fights with the two defeats being against Dmitry Bivol and Sullivan Barrera.
Here are the full results of the January 11 Top Rank card from Atlantic City:
- Joe Smith Jr. defeated Jesse Hart by split decision (97-92, 94-95, 98-91) to win the WBO NABO light heavyweight title
- Steven Nelson defeated Cem Kilic by TKO, round 8 to win the WBO NABO super middleweight title
- Joseph Adorno and Hector Garcia fought to a split draw (77-75, 75-77, 76-76)
- Chris Thomas defeated Samir dos Santos Barbosa by TKO, round 1
- Shinard Bunch defeated Dennis Okoth by TKO, round 6
- Sonny Conto defeated Curtis Head by KO, round 1
- Jeremy Adorno defeated Fernando Ibarra De Anda by unanimous decision (40-35, 40-35, 40-35)
- Xander Zayas defeated Corey Champion by unanimous decision (40-36, 40-36, 40-35)