Smith dominates Hart, wins split decision

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.

Photo: Mikey Williams/ Top Rank

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.

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    • I don’t think anybody is actually shocked over the decision, right? This is the NJ Commission…LOL… We all know any goofy judge is simply disciplined with a mini-suspension, smack on the wrist, and a refresher course on scoring. I am sure the casinos and the judge were connected somehow (snicker).

    • Don’t hold your breath, Bob. What would you expect from the New Jersey Commission? I’m just surprised the NJ judges didn’t give Hart a unanimous decision win.

    • Once Hart tasted a right hand from Smith, Hart was on the retreat and on his back foot most of the fight. Smith is a gritty, hard punching, and at times, sloppy fighter, but he gets the job done. As for the decision, what a joke; Smith won that fight fair and square. Here we go again with the politics, corruption, and lack of competency in some of the judges. Sorry Bernard, but your boy wanting to upset the apple cart should have stayed at super-middleweight.

  • Smith MAYBE lost one round. Was hoping he would KO Hart but just couldn’t land the punch. I couldn’t believe it when I heard split decision. Absolutely disgusting.

    • Berserker, I thought you could have possibly given Hart 2 rounds. The 5th Round was terrible for both fighters, but Smith really failed to land anything, where Hart landed his jab at times. It’s splitting hairs though. Hart just wasn’t strong enough to keep Smith away. If Smith hit the body more, then we wouldn’t have to talk about the judge.

  • Hart thoroughly got his ass kicked all the way to stone age and back and only lost by split decision? A blindman could see he didn’t win a single round. Even worse than the GGG loss to Canelo!

  • I guess Smith had to KILL SOMEONE to get a unanimous decision? If Smith lost 1 round it was hard to figure what round? Smith is one real tough S.O.B, but I.M.O he needs a real trainer, to sort out the many amateur type mistakes he makes. In some ways he reminds me of Wilder, because his boxing skills are not exactly the best, and if he wants to rule the division he needs to get his fundamentals sharpened.But he can punch as we all know and we know when a guy hits like a tank anything can happen. The judge was a joke but in boxing world/ WWE what can we expect?

  • Well Kiney is a white judge 63 or 4 years old. He is from New Jersey. So it might have been more home state and being nearby Philadelphia. But I understand some of your feelings, those who think that a white fighter would win all the close rounds against a black fighter or Mexican fighter are very wrong.

    • White LibComs are the worst, much worse than blacks themselves – or else he knew what he was supposed to do and was scared to give points to the White fighter.

      • When did this forum all of sudden become a Stormfront message board? So, a white guy WON the decision and white people are complaining? WTF!…I thought Smith won too, but lets face it, boxing is scored on EFFECTIVE aggression. Not just simply being aggressive. Smith wasn’t that effective. He went long periods without throwing punches and missed a lot. Hart shot himself in the foot by fighting scared—basically a non-effort by Hart who somehow always seems to find a way to lose. Should have been an easy win for Hart on paper, but he doesn’t have the heart and skills of top fighter.

  • I would like to know on what basis did that one judge score the fight for Hart? Are we going to learn later he turned in the wrong card? Even if he did. scoring it 95-94 for Smith would have been an outrage! You never know what factors judges are considering when scoring fights, but Smith dominated on everything-Punches landed, power shots landing, being the aggressor, ring generalmanship. What gives? Smith controlled the fight the first 6 rounds, then completely dominated from the 7th round on was on the verge of stopping Hart in every round!

    • Fact the judge considering was following orders to score for the house fighter unless so one sided to be obvious. Probably filled out his card before the fight started.

    • Shawn-You obviously did not see the fight, or read any of the prior posts. That is the whole point of this thread-Smith dominated the fight, and somehow one of the judges had Hart winning, 95-94. Thank god the two other judges were not on acid and ruled in favor of Smith, in what should have been a very obvious decision. I like Hart and thought he would win this fight easily, but without exaggeration,that one ruling has to rank up there as one of boxings all-time worst!

  • If somebody would teach Smith Jr. body-punching, cutting off the ring and a little defense, he’d be a top 10 fighter.

    He’s got tremendous power but headhunts too much, Hart was wide open to the body on several occasions but wasn’t targeted enough.

    • You are correct. Smith head hunts most of the time. In addition, he has a habit of walking in taking one on the chin only to throw his right counter. Not a real good tactic especially if someone has some crack. He needs to focus on jabbing his way in and setting up the lead right hand.

    • Good points, that body was there for Smith all night long and he never took advantage. Body to head combos would have had Hart crumbling, unable to defend the ensuing head shots. That way would have all been spared evening listening to that horrid decision!

  • Joe Smith gave Jesse Hart a comprenhensive beating. Who is Hart’s Godfather ? …..Cash only, please !

  • 95-94 for Hart is why many believe that boxing is corrupt. That guy should never be allowed to judge a fight again. Not even as a spectator, in his living room, sitting on his couch, in his underwear, using a crayon.

  • Nice coverage by Kurt Wolfheimer. Hart uncharacteristic moved around the ring the entire fight rarely standing and battling Smith head on. The one judge having it for Hart was a shock but that’s boxing for you. Hart had not much to gain being ranked and Smith not while Smith had plenty to gain winning and will be back in the ratings. The fight itself was a disappointment.

    • It was a terrible fight…complete let down from Hart. He fought a ridiculous loser strategy…scampering around the ring all scared like the thought he was in there with sonny liston/earnie shavers. I switched to the Munguia fight about round 10 because it seemed Hart had pretty much already given up. Jesse Hart really needs to take some time and ask himself if this is what he wants to do for a living, because I don’t see he has the makings of a fighter.

  • Hart talked all that shit and got chased around beat like a pinata .. no way he earned more than a couple rounds at most

  • The scorecard in the smith bout was a disgrace. I don’t care how inexperienced that nearsighted judge is, send him packing.

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