Jesse Hart is looking to get back in the mix at light-heavyweight this Saturday when he takes on Joe Smith Jr. this Saturday in Atlantic City live on ESPN. The contest has nothing to do with where they are in the rankings and isn’t a title eliminator or even for a title, for Hart on Saturday, it’s all about revenge for the loss that retired his mentor Benard Hopkins, that Smith stopped back in 2016.
“I’m not looking at what’s next. I’m not looking at a world championship challenge,” Hart said to the media. “For my city, it’s been rough since 2016 when the Joe Smith-Bernard Hopkins fight happened.”
“This is not business. It’s not business. It’s not some bragging rights, neither,” Hart said. This is something my family put on me. It’s more a family thing. When you doing something for family, this is personal. This is for my family, it’s not for myself. Bernard Hopkins is my big brother. January 11 is so close.”
— Star Boxing (@StarBoxing) January 5, 2020
When I was in Philadelphia to cover Artur Beterbiev defeat Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October, one of the folks on hand who was mobbed by everyone whenever I saw walking around was none other than Hopkins. For Hart, The Hall of Famer is the latest in a city known for world-famous fighters many have idolized.
“[This fight is] definitely with a target on Joe’s back. Timing is everything. When I seen [Smith-Hopkins], I was very hurt. He was the poster boy [for Philadelphia boxers]… he inspired me. He inspired this little kid to be great. Not to be average, not to be good, not to be successful but to be great. We are all inspired by somebody. So that inspiration was hurt. We can never go where we are heading if we don’t understand where we were at.”
We’ll see for Hart if that inspiration will fueling his revenge this Saturday against Smith, who is looking to rebound after a loss last year against Dmitry Bivol for the WBA title.