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Jesse Hart Wants Revenge vs. Joe Smith Jr., But Served Piping Hot

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Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, a French diplomat in the 1800s, is widely credited as the originator of the saying that “revenge is a dish best served cold,” which is to say that retribution is most effectively achieved when the would-be avenger’s immediate, inflamed passions have been tempered into steely, calculating resolve.

It has been a little more than three years since Father Time, with an assist from Joe Smith Jr., finally caught up with the great Bernard Hopkins, who suffered the only loss inside the distance in his 28-year professional career when he was knocked out in the eighth round by Smith on Dec. 17, 2017, at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Even though B-Hop was then just 29 days shy of his 53rd birthday, and Smith, a construction worker from Long Island, N.Y., was, at 28, young enough to be the old master’s son, a longtime fan of Hopkins’ was personally offended when Smith had the temerity to take some verbal swipes at the vanquished legend.

That fan, a native Philadelphian as is Hopkins, is Jesse Hart (29-2, 21 KOs), who squares off against Smith (24-3, 20 KOs) in the scheduled 10-round light heavyweight main event Saturday night in the Mark G. Etess Arena of Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The bout will be televised by ESPN.

Even without Hart’s seemingly heartfelt revenge motive to stir the pot, this matchup of the self-appointed vindicator of Hopkins’ foiled fistic farewell, a two-time world title challenger as a super middleweight, and Smith, whose resume includes not only that signature conquest of Hopkins but a shocking, first-round stoppage of highly regarded Andrzej Fonfara on June 18, 2016, has implications within the 175-pound weight class.

The 30-year-old Hart, who is promoted by Top Rank and will be fighting for only the second time as a light heavyweight, nonetheless is ranked No. 3 in that division by the WBO, No. 4 by the WBA, No. 8 by the WBC and No. 10 by the IBF. An impressive victory over Smith, also 30, no doubt would enhance his credentials for another bid for a world title, while Smith, loser of two of his last three ring appearances, one by unanimous decision to WBA light heavy champ Dmitry Bivol, is hoping an upset of Hart will again vault him back into the ratings.

But, to Hart, those are details that can and will be worked out later. This fight, he insists, is personal. He might not really know Smith enough to dislike him, but he does know that Smith defeated and then dissed Hopkins, which to Hart, son of another Philly boxing legend, middleweight knockout artist Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, is unforgivable.

At a press conference in Philadelphia to hype the fight, Hart turned toward Smith and explained why he so badly needed to put a whipping on him.

“You didn’t hurt just me, you hurt my whole city,” Hart said of Smith’s demonstration that not even Hopkins is immune to the natural laws of diminishing returns. “Philadelphia is pressuring me about this fight. I keep hearing, now that I’m a light heavyweight, `You gotta get Joe, you gotta get some payback.’ That’s my motivation. That’s my mission.”

Smith said his motivation, his mission, is to again “get my face out there,” to remind everyone that he is still around and capable of restoring some of his lost prestige. But he admitted that he is aware that Hart holds him responsible for some sort of affront to Philadelphia as a whole and to one of its most acclaimed boxing icons in particular.

“I know Jesse Hart’s coming to fight after what I did to his mentor, Bernard Hopkins,” Smith continued. “I know how he feels about it. He’s holding a grudge.

“So I know he’s looking forward to coming in there and possibly taking me out, but I’m going in there to do the same thing to him.”

It would be reasonable to believe that Hart’s expressions of outrage are feigned, possible mind games to mentally discombobulate Smith, which was something that a prime Bernard Hopkins could do about as well as anyone. Cynics might even suggest that it is all just window dressing, a false injection of drama to raise the stakes and create spectator interest. It wouldn’t be the first time that one or both fighters slung invective at each other, then hugged after the final bell and admitted that there never really was any bad blood between them.

Hart, however, insists that what he feels is real. There is a score to be settled, and Hart wants to painfully extract what he believes Smith owes for his impudence of three years ago.

“This ain’t got nothing to do with business or purses or who I’m going to fight later on,” he told a couple of Philadelphia reporters whom he has known for some time. “I’m going in there to do some real damage. I got to get Joe.

“Look, y’all know how close I am to Bernard Hopkins. I’ve been talking to Bernard since I was seven years old, back when Bouie Fisher was training him. Bouie used to train my dad when my dad was 13. Bouie would put Bernard on the phone with my dad, and my dad would give him advice. Then he’d hand the phone to me and say, `Here, talk to Bernard.’

“I watched most of Bernard’s fights when I was coming up. When he beat Felix Trinidad he was, like, the hero of the whole city of Philadelphia. An instant icon. That was the biggest day of my life, to be up there on that stage with him when he was honored at the Lucian Blackwell thing (a ceremony hosted by the now-deceased Philly city councilman).”

The bond between Hopkins and Hart remains as strong as ever. When Hart looks at Smith, rightly or wrongly he sees a thief who stole a bit of his childhood and laughed about it.

“Bernard made a promise to his deceased mother (that he’d retire at 40),” Hart recalled. “He made that promise to his hometown and to his daughter. But because of the simple fact that he could still fight, he kept fighting. If it wasn’t for that loss (to Smith), he’d probably still be fighting now. It took that loss to make him stop.

“But when he lost that fight, it hurt that little boy who idolized him and still does. When he came back (from California), he told me, `I’m sorry, Jesse. I went in there and did my best. It just wasn’t my night.’ He hugged me when he saw tears in my eyes. I felt like I lost. The little boy inside me was crying.

“That subject is still sensitive to me. The only way to make it right is for me to do (Smith) in. When this fight was made, I talked to Bernard and I said, `It’s going to be all right. I got Joe Smith.’”

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Bazinyan Improves to 29-0, but Gollaz and Gaumont Steal the Show in Montreal

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Super middleweight Erik Bazinyan, ranked #3 by the WBA and the WB0 and #4 by the WBC, advanced his record to 29-0 (21) on Thursday night at the Casino de Montreal with a hard-earned majority decision over Alantex Fox. The judges had it 95-95 and 98-92 twice.

A member of the National Team in Armenia before moving with his parents to Quebec at age 16, Bazinyan was moving up in class while making the first defense of two North American titles. In Fox, one of two fighting brothers from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, he was meeting a 12-year pro who brought a 28-3-1 record.

The fight was messy at times as was often the case with the six-foot-four Fox who tends to tie up his opponents when they happen to borrow inside his long arms. The fight was fairly even through the first six frames, but Bazinyan forged ahead as Fox’s workrate declined.

There were two brutal upsets on the undercard, both of which ended in the opening round.

In a super lightweight match slated for 10, Guadalajara’s Gabriel Gollaz, who was billed for this fight under his mother’s maiden name, Valenzuela, solidified his reputation as a treacherous spoiler with a first round blast-out of Yves Ulysse Jr. The Mexican, who improved to 26-3-1 with his 16th knockout, caught Ulysses leaning in and crumpled him with a brutal uppercut. Ulysse, who hadn’t previously been stopped, appeared to suffer a leg injury as he fell and was carried from the ring.

In 2021, Gollaz went to London and upset former British Commonwealth champion Robbie Davies Jr. More recently, he came within a shade of upsetting Matchroom signee Montana Love, losing a 12-round decision.

A 34-year-old Montreal native of Haitian ancestry, Ulysse (22-3) was considered a bright prospect after taking Cletus Seldin to school in 2017. After tonight’s match, which lasted all of 52 seconds, he indicated that he would retire.

Another Mexican import, middleweight Carlos Gallego, wasn’t as fortunate. Gallego, 8-4 heading in, was knocked out in the opening round by local fan favorite Alexandre Gaumont (7-0, 5 KOs).

Gaumont forced the stoppage with a barrage of punches after snapping Gallego’s head back with a vicious uppercut. Gallego tried to rise and then fell back to his knees as the bout was being waived off. The official time was 2:26.

Gaumont, 27, knocked out 12 of his 21 opponents as an amateur. He bears watching.

Presented by Camille Estephan’s Eye of the Tiger Promotions, tonight’s card aired in the U.S. on ESPN+.

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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG 

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Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled: Female Splendor at MSG

Two bouts between women, which will turn the winners into undisputed champions in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, will create an electrifying atmosphere this Saturday, February 4th at Madison Square Garden.

In the duel between the two southpaws, Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs), based in Brooklyn), will defend her 126-pound WBC, IBF and WBO titles, while Mexican Erika Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs) will defend her WBA title.

Also, of great interest will be the fight between American Baumgardner (13-1, 7 KOs), 130-pound WBC, IBF and WBO champion and her opponent, French challenger Elhem Mekhaled (15-1, 3 KOs), who will try to snatch Baumgardner’s titles and get the vacant WBA title, which belonged to the undefeated Korean Choi Hyun-Mi (20-1, 5 KOs).

Choi, who was born in Pyongyang, North Korea but left the country with her family at the age of 14 and settled in Seoul, South Korea, was declared “Champion in Recess”, as she suffers from a medical condition that prevents her from fighting. Once she fully recovers, she will have the possibility of facing, as a mandatory challenger, the winner between Baumgardner and Mekhaled.

For Baumgardner, who was born 28 years ago in Ohio, but now lives and trains in Michigan, the fight in New York will once again allow her to showcase her skills in the United States after three consecutive fights in the United Kingdom.

In her most recent bout, Baumgardner defeated her compatriot Mikaela Mayer (17-1, 5 KOs) in a difficult brawl, from whom she snatched the IBF and WBO belts, while retaining the WBC belt. The bout was October 15th of last year at the O2 Arena in London. Two of the officials, Steve Gray and John Latham, scored the fight 96-95 in favor of Baumgardner, but Terry O’Connor saw it 97-93 for Mayer.

Four days later, Choi unanimously defeated Canada’s Vanessa Bradford (6-4-2, 0 KOs) in Seoul, earning the Asian her ninth successful defense of the WBA super featherweight crown, which she has held since May 2014, when she anesthetized the now retired Thai, Siriwan Thongmanit.

The following month, in November, the WBA ordered Choi to defend her belt in a mandatory duel against Baumgardner, making the winner the undisputed queen of 130 pounds.

ELHEM MEKHALED FILLS THE VACANCY OF SOUTH KOREAN CHOI

To fill the vacancy of the South Korean Choi, the IBF Committee awarded the position to Mekhaled who ranks third in the women’s 130-pound rankings.

Former interim WBC titleholder, Mekhaled, 31 years old and born in Paris, has recently lost by unanimous decision to Belgian Delfine Persoon (47-3, 19 KOs) at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi where they disputed the vacant WBC silver belt.

The duel against Baumgardner not only allows Mekhaled to debut in the United States, but also provides her the opportunity to become the undisputed champion at 130 pounds.

Mekhaled emphasized that the February 4th event has great significance for women fighters and that this is a sign that the discipline is growing, with more and more fight cards in which women exhibit the leading role.

The French boxer said that after winning the interim title in 2015, she waited a long time for the opportunity to fight for the regular belt, but unfortunately it never materialized.

Mekhaled explained that after a long period of focusing on her personal life and not really training, she accepted the duel with Delfine Persoon with only two weeks of preparation, which led to the setback against the Belgian boxer.

“Since my WBC interim 2019 title, I’ve been waiting for this moment,” said Mekhaled. “Maybe fate has played well; instead of one belt, they’re all on the line. I am super excited to fight on February 4th at the legendary MSG in New York. God knows how determined I am! It’s my time to shine. Thank you to my advisor Sarah Fina.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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How good is Jake Paul? Shane Mosley’s Answer May Surprise You

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Few celebrities in the world today are as polarizing as Jake Paul. The 26-year-old Cleveland native who fights Tommy Fury in an 8-round match on Feb. 26 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has fervent fans and equally fervent detractors. To long-time aficionados of boxing, especially those born before the arrival of the internet, Jake Paul and his ilk are widely looked upon as a scourge.

Paul first entered the squared circle on Aug. 25, 2018, at the Manchester Arena in England. He fought fellow YouTube star Deji Olatunji in the co-feature to a match between their respective older brothers, Logan Paul and the “influencer” known as KSI. The combatants promoted the event on their social media platforms

These were exhibitions fought with headgear. Jake Paul stopped Olatunji whose corner pulled him out after five rounds. However, the results wouldn’t appear on boxrec, the sport’s official record-keeper.

No serious boxing fan paid this curious event any heed, but the folks that profit from the sport without taking any punches stood up and took notice. The on-site gate reportedly exceeded $3 million. The event reportedly generated 1.3 million pay-per-view buys worldwide (youtube charged $10 a pop) with nearly as many beholders catching a free ride on a pirate stream. A new era was born, or at least a new sub-set of a heretofore calcified sport.

Jake Paul had his first professional fight on Jan. 30, 2020, in Miami. In the opposite corner was a British social media personality of Saudi Arabian lineage who took the name AnEsonGib. Paul stopped him in the opening round.

Paul fought once more that year, knocking out former NBA star Nate Robinson, and three times in 2021, opposing Ben Askren and then Tyron Woodley twice. Askren and Woodley were former MMA champions who had fabled careers as U.S. collegiate wrestlers, but both were newcomers to boxing.

According to Forbes, Jake Paul made $31 million from boxing in 2021. And therein lies the rub. While thousands of would-be future champions, many with deep amateur backgrounds, toiled away in boxing gyms honing their craft while hoping to attract the eye of an important promoter, a guy like Jake Paul came along and jumped the queue. It just ain’t fair.

In preparation for his pro debut against AnEson Gib, Paul spent time in Big Bear, California, training at the compound of Shane Mosley. A first ballot Hall of Famer (class of 2020), Mr. Mosley needs no introduction to readers of this web site. And when he says that Jake Paul is legit, one is inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“I taught him the fundamentals,” says Mosley, “but Jake was a good listener and a hard worker. He’s a good athlete and he has a boxer’s mentality. We took him down the street to Abel Sanchez’s gym and had him spar with real professional fighters. He would spar with anybody and when he got caught with a hard punch he wouldn’t back down. He loves the sport and he relished the competition.”

Mosley stops short of saying that Jake Paul could hold his own with Canelo Alvarez – Paul preposterously called out Canelo after out-pointing 47-year-old MMA legend Anderson Silva in his most recent fight – but with so many titles up for grabs in this balkanized sport, it wouldn’t   surprise Mosely if the self-styled “Problem Child” latched hold of one before this phase of his life was over.

A three-time national amateur champion and a world champion at 135, 147, and 154 pounds as a pro, Shane Mosley put Pomona, California on the boxing map. He represented that city in LA county throughout his illustrious career. His son of the same name was born there.

Mosley fought twice in his hometown as he was coming up the ladder and will be back there again on Feb. 18 when Shane Mosley Jr appears on the undercard of a Golden Boy Promotions card at Pomona’s historic Fox Theater. It’s not official yet so we won’t divulge the name of Shane’s opponent, but the main event will pit Luis Nery against Azat Hovhannisyan in a WBC Super Bantamweight Eliminator, a match that shapes up as an entertaining skirmish as both have fan-friendly styles.

Shane Mosley Jr Sr

Shane Mosley Jr & Sr

Shane Mosley Jr, who turned 31 in December, will never replicate his father’s fistic accomplishments; his dad set the bar too high. But the younger Mosley is a solid pro who is on a pretty nice roll, having won five of his last six since losing a 10-round decision to Brandon Adams in the finals of season 5 of The Contender series. In his last outing, he out-slicked rugged Gabriel Rosado to win a regional super middleweight title.

The elder Mosley has been working with his son at Bones Adams gym in Las Vegas and will be in junior’s corner on Feb. 18. It will be a double-homecoming for Pomona’s favorite sons.

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

Arne K. Lang’s third boxing book, titled “George Dixon, Terry McGovern and the Culture of Boxing in America, 1890-1910,” has rolled off the press. Published by McFarland, the book can be ordered directly from the publisher or via Amazon.

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