Jesse Hart made a bold move up to 175 pounds for a fight with Sullivan Barrera tonight in Las Vegas, and came out of it with a solid decision win over veteran contender Sullivan Barrera.
Hart (26-2, 21 KO) won on scores of 96-93, 97-92, and 99-90 in his debut at light heavyweight, and put himself right in the mix for a shot at one of the division’s titleholders, three of whom — Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Sergey Kovalev, and Artur Beterbiev — are in the Top Rank family.
Bad Left Hook scored the fight 96-93 and 98-91 for Hart on two separate cards.
The 29-year-old Hart and Barrera (22-3, 14 KO) made it rough and dirty pretty much from the opening bell, both holding plenty, some hitting on the break, a lot of roughhouse stuff. Referee Jay Nady was often the real star of the fight, constantly screaming at the fighters and threatening that this time was really, really the final warning before a point would be taken. One never was, if you’re wondering.
Hart scored a knockdown in round eight, which may have been more a slip, but there was also a shot earlier in the fight that was ruled a slip and may have been more a knockdown.
The 37-year-old Barrera looked his age in many ways tonight, but was also landing solid shots throughout, right until the end. Hart wasn’t spectacular — and some of his technical flaws appeared to be given Andre Ward some serious rage — but he got a deserved win.