Jesse Hart: ‘If Demond Nicholson can stand up to my power, he’s a hell of a guy’
Jesse Hart was on the plane ride home and his foot was tapping incessantly. The thought kept echoing in his mind, “I have to see it, I have to see it, I have to see it.” The Philadelphia super middleweight touched down, went home, kissed his daughter hello and his bags had barely hit the living room floor before he popped the disk into the DVD machine to see for himself what happened.
Carrying the attitude that no mortal man could beat him, Hart needed to break down what he did wrong during his first professional loss, a 12-round unanimous decision to WBO beltholder Gilberto Ramirez back in September 2017. He made mental checkmarks. “Okay, I got him that round, he got me there, I’m backing him up,” he noted.
The setback stayed with Hart, the son of legendary Philly middleweight Eugene “Cyclone” Hart, a whole day. Jesse absorbed and learned. He says it’s the best thing that happened to him because he did see where he could have been better and has vowed to himself it won’t happen again.
Hart (23-1, 19 knockouts) is making his second comeback fight this Saturday in a 10-round super middleweight fight against Demond Nicholson (18-2-1, 17 KOs) on the ESPN Top Rank show from the Liacouras Center on the Temple University campus. The nine-fight card is heavily populated with Philly fighters: Joey Dawejko, Bryant Jennings and rising talents Christian Carto and Marcel Rivers. The main event will center on Jessie Magdaleno’s WBO junior featherweight title defense against Isaac Dogboe. The card also features 2016 Olympic star Shakur Stevenson.
After his loss to Ramirez, Hart, 28, went right back to the gym. Hart is usually his harshest critic. This time, he had to take an honest look at areas he needed to address if he wants to get better.
“The one thing we can’t buy as a pro fighter or the one thing we can’t push is experience,” said Hart, a true old-school student of the game. “The guy Ramirez had experience. I watched the tape a thousand times. I always felt I had more skill than he did. I was the better fighter skill-wise, he carried more experience. It’s something moving forward that I can’t take lightly in an opponent.
“When you look at the fight, I lost by one point on one scorecard, and the other two cards were close. I did take more shots against Ramirez than I should have – absolutely. (He) set certain traps that I didn’t see. He threw decoy punches; the first two punches were throwaway punches, soft ones to the body, and the third punch was hard to the head. Then he would go downstairs, and when he did, he hit me hard. You can’t train for that.”
It’s why Hart felt compelled to immediately see a replay of the Ramirez fight. He saw how over anxious he was at times. He noticed certain movements and steps he took.
“I didn’t even unpack when I got home,” Hart said. “I popped that tape right in, after I kissed and hugged my daughter. It’s not easy to watch. It’s never easy to watch when you lose. But I am better for it, because I have learned so much from it. One-on-one, I truly believe no mortal man can beat me.
“It won’t happen again. I’m better mentally. I think that’s the area where I’ve made the most improvements. I’ve learned to slow things down in my head and I see the things I need to get better with. I can’t wait to fight at home. Two years ago, when I fought Dashon Johnson, I got too caught up. I did things early in that fight I shouldn’t have done. Once I settled down, I was okay.”
Hart has trained for Nicholson in Philly, a big part of the reason so he can be close to his five-year-old daughter, Halo.
“Nicholson can fight and punch, but he fought most of his career at middleweight, can he deal with my power?” Hart asked. “If he can stand up to my power, he’s a hell of a guy. My mental approach is the most important thing than anything. I know how to fight at home and I’ll be ready for anything Nicholson has. I’m going to do what I want to do. I want to force him to be someone he doesn’t want to be.”
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