By Kurt Wolfheimer at ringside
Light heavyweight Joe Smith, Jr. (25-3, 20 KOs) dominated Jesse Hart (26-3, 21 KOs) over ten rounds on Saturday night before a crowd of 3,415 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, but only won by split decision.
The harder-hitting Smith aggressively pressed the action while Hart tried with limited success to operate from outside. Smith rocked Hart in round four, dropped him in round seven, then punished him the rest of the way. Scores were 97-92, 98-91 for Smith, and a bizarre 95-94 for Hart.
Hart had vowed to avenge Hall of Fame Bernard Hopkins’ loss to Smith in 2016, but instead Smith made it 2-0 against Philly.
In a clash between unbeaten super middleweights, Steven “Stone Cold” Nelson (16-0, 12 KOs) won by eighth round TKO over Cem Kilic (14-1, 9 KOs). Terence Crawford stablemate Nelson progressively broke down Kilic until Kilic’s trainer Buddy McGirt got on the ring apron to protect his fighter from further damage. Time was 1:44.
In a surprise, highly regarded unbeaten lightweight Joseph Adorno (14-0-1, 12 KOs) and Hector Garcia (14-7-4, 8 KOs) battled to an eight round draw. Scores were 77-75 Adorno, 77-75 Garcia, 76-76. Adorno was a 34:1 favorite.
Undefeated heavyweight Sonny Conto (6-0, 5 KOs) barely worked up a sweat in a first round KO over Curtis Head (5-4, 3 KOs) Conti dropped the 271lb Head three times (two official). Time was 2:08.
Super middleweight Chris “The Sandman” Thomas (14-1-1, 9 KOs) scored a first round TKO over Samir Barbosa (37-17-3, 26 KOs). A barrage of unanswered punches prompted a referee’s stoppage after just 47 seconds.
Super bantamweight Jeremy Adorno (4-0, 1 KO) won a four round unanimous decision over Fernando Ibarra (2-3, 0 KOs). Adorno dropped Ibarra in round two en route to a 45-35 3x verdict.
Welterweight Shinard Bunch (6-1, 5 KOs) scored an unusual sixth round TKO over Dennis Okoth (4-3-1, 2 KOs). With 20 seconds left in a close fight, Okoth turned away and indicated he couldn’t continue. He took oxygen in his corner and left the ring on his own, but was taken to the dressing room on a gurney.
Unbeaten 17-year-old welterweight prodigy Xander Zayas (3-0, 2 KO) won a four round unanimous decision over Corey Champion (1-2, 1 KO). Scores were 40-36, 40-36, 40-35. First time going the full distance for Zayas.