Round By Round
Jesse Hart vs Joe Smith Jr.
Round 1: Smith misses on a jab to the body and then tries to press Hart to the ropes but can’t pun him down. Two long jabs come from Hart as he then circles the outside of the ring. Smith goads Hart into standing and trading with him at center ring but Hart doesn’t take the bait. Jab and grab comes from Hart. Check hook misses from Hart. Smith charges forward and misses on a jab to the body. Hart bounces quickly on the outside as he throws his jab. Smith throws a big combination but doesn’t land anything clean. Referee warns Smith about hitting behind the head. I’ll edge it to Hart because I didn’t see Smith really land anything in that round. Hart 10-9.
Round 2: Probing jab comes from Hart used just to maintain distance. Smith stalks but can’t get the range without Hart tying up. Hart is moving around the ring A LOT in these opening rounds, some might call it ‘running.’ Left hand from Hart makes partial contact. Smith tries to whack with his right hand and then gets in a left inside a clinch. Another body shot lands for Smith as Hart doesn’t tie him up completely. Right hand from Smith shakes up Hart badly! Hart grabs hold to survive the moment. Smith 10-9, 19-19.
Round 3: So far Hart has been moving way too much to mount any real offense of his own and is also going to tire himself out. Smith come out and misses on a jab to the body to start the round. Now Smith misses on a series of punches as Hart jumps out of range. Three hard punches come from Hart which may be the first time he’s really sat down on any punches so far. Right uppercut makes contact for Hart. Right hand lands for Hart over the top this time. Double jab lands clean for Hart at center ring. Now Hart moves to his check hook as he circles the outside. Clean uppercut lands well right on the chin of Smith. Hart 10-9.
Round 4: Smith paws with a jab and steps to the side. A few more jabs come from Hart at range. Right uppercut just misses for Hart but Smith comes back with some hooks but Hart counters back right away. Left uppercut from Hart grazes Smith again and Smith leans on Hart against the ropes as Smith lands a right hand. Right hand lead lands for Smith. Right right uppercut misses for Smith twice on the inside. Smith throws two hooks as Hart covers up. Smith continues to maul Hart as he keeps his hands at home. now Hart lands a clean counter uppercut. Smith 10-9, 38-38.
Round 5: Smith comes out pressing and Hart tries to find an angle to escape. Hart misses on two jabs upstairs, then a third as he’s content to just keep Smith at range. Jab lands for Smith. Right hand from Hart partially lands upstairs. Check hook gets Hart the angle to escape again. Smith falls short on a couple of reaching shots as Hart leans away. Check hook makes contact for Hart again, then another. Smith tries to work the body on the inside but can’t get great leverage. I think Hart had more of the kind of action he wanted in this round. Hart 10-9.
Round 6: Jab misses for Smith to open the round, Hart sticks one to the body. Hart lands a jab upstairs this time. double jab from Smith falls short. Right hand lands over the top for Hart. Jabs from Hart splits the guard. Clubbing right hand lands for Smith. Big right hand from Smith misses. Smith presses forward with a few shots that has Hart back on the ropes again. Double left hand lands for Hart but Smith gets in a right hand as Hart falls right back to the ropes. Smith 10-9, 57-57.
Round 7: Right hand to the body lands for Smith. Hart misses on a left hook aimed at the head. Check hook lands clean for Hart this time. Clean left to the body lands for Hart. Hart ducks two hooks from Smith and then tries to find a spot to counter wide hooks from Simth. Smith lands a right hand with Hard back on the ropes again. Straight right to the body lands for Smith. Double left hook comes from Hart. Check hook lands but Smith gets in a hook of his own and puts Hart down on a knee! Hart gets up and Smith tries to maul Hart on the ropes. Hart might be in trouble. Smith 10-8.
Round 8: Smith comes out looking for a big right hand and throws three of them but non land clean. Jab makes contact for Hart, who then tries a check hook. Hart doesn’t look like he’s on steady legs. Hart tries a left hook upstairs but it doesn’t land clean. Smith comes forward with a flurry of body punches this time with Hart on the ropes. Double left hook makes contact for Hart. Jab lands for Smith as he continues to come forward. Smith 10-9, 77-74.
Round 9: Hart tries to jab but Smith presses through it lands a body shot. Double left hook comes from Hart again and a shot from Smith has Hart tumbling to the corner. Hard is bleeding badly over his left eye now. Referee calls a timeout to have the doctor take a look. Doctor clears him to continue. Smith comes out on the attack once we re-start the action and Smith lands a left hand to the body. Jab lands for Hart, then a check hook. Clean counter from Hart knocks Smith off balance for a second. Smith 10-9.
Round 10: Last round. Replay seems to show that Hart’s cut was caused by a head clash but it was ruled from a punch. Hart throws three quick punches and then slides back to the outside of the ring. Check hook makes contact for Hart. Hart looks for a left uppercut and makes a little contact. Clubbing right hand puts Hart on the ropes again and Smith looks to line up a big right hand that Hart is able to roll. Left hook lands for Hard as he steps forward, then gets another. Overhand right from Smith makes partial contact. Smith 10-9. I’ve got it for Smith 97-92.
Steven Nelson vs Cem Kilic
Round 1: Kilic scores a jab to the body to start the fight. Nelson tries to time a big right hand counter that misses. Double jab from Nelson doesn’t find the mark. Now Nelson lands a right hand upstairs. Nelson brings a right hand down to the body this time. Kilic tries another jab to the body that doesn’t land well. Straight right hand to the body scores for Nelson. Two body shots make contact for Nelson as he counters a Kilic attack. Nelson 10-9.
Round 2: Kilic misses on a jab upstairs. Nelson partially lands a right hand counter. Nelson misses on a check left hook this time. Straight right hand from Nelson makes contact downstairs. Nelson is outworking Kilic and getting off first. Nelson look to go back down to the body with a right hand but Kilic lands a left hand. Right hand from Nelson lands upstairs again. Both fighters trade and land shots at center ring. I still favor Nelson’s work in this round. Nelson 10-9, 20-18.
Round 3: Straight right scores to the body for Nelson. Two more body shots make contact for Nelson. Clean stiff jab lands well for Nelson. Double jab lands for Nelson. Another jab scores upstairs for Nelson. Right hand from Nelson grazes Kilic to the head. Nelson gets in a nice left to the body this time. Nelson continues to control the fight with his boxing while Kilic doesn’t seem to have the first clue how to respond. Nelson 10-9.
Round 4: Two body shots come from Nelson as he gets in between a couple shots from Kilic. Kilic lands a little left hook at mid-range. Another left hook lands for Kilic. Counter right uppercut lands to the body for Nelson, then a left just moments later. Now Nelson lands a jab to the head. Another good body shot lands well for Nelson, then a straight right to the head. Nelson 10-9, 40-36.
Round 5: Short left uppercut lands for Nelson during an exchange. Nelson pops a jab upstairs this time and then goes back to the body with a couple more punches before backing Kilic up and landing big shots. It looks like Nelson is trying to pick it up on Kilic and break his will. Two body shots land again for Nelson. Right uppercut lands clean to the head of Kilic. Left hook lands for Nelson this time. Kilic finally gets in a right hand to the body. Another left uppercut lands for Nelson. Nelson 10-9.
Round 6: Jab lands upstairs for Nelson to start the round, who then goes to a check hook as Kilic tries to step forward. Both fighters trade and land shots. Kilic lands a jab but eats another uppercut in exchange. Nelson going back to the body with several shots and Kilic looks like he’s had the wind taken out of him for the moment. Kilic has his left eye swelling up now. Jab and right hand land clean for Nelson. Nelson 10-9, 60-54.
Round 7: Nelson tries to work his jab to start the round then digs back down to the body with two shots. A couple more body shots land for Nelson. Nelson splits the guard with a left uppercut to the head. Straight right hand lands for Nelson as Kilic doesn’t have much left in the tank and is mostly just taking a beating. Left to the body lands for Kilic. Another uppercut scores for Nelson. More body shots land for Nelson and Kilic is backing off as he’s feeling the effect of those shots. Nelson 10-9.
Round 8: Kilic’s trainer Buddy McGirt has threatened to end the fight is Kilic doesn’t show him something in this round. A series of jabs come from Nelson but most of them don’t land. Now Nelson scores a clean body shot. Two more body shots land for Nelson. Kilic lands a jab upstairs. Check hook lands for Nelson. Right hand lands upstairs again for Nelson. Another right hand lead lands for Nelson and McGirt steps on the apron and throws in the towel. Nelson TKO-8.
Tonight at 10 pm ET on ESPN, with prelims starting at 6:30 pm ET on ESPN+, Jesse Hart returns to action to face Joe Smith Jr in a significant light heavyweight main event from Atlantic City, with Hart looking to get some revenge against the man who retired Bernard Hopkins, and Smith just looking to win.
Wil Esco will be here for the round by round call of the main card at 10 pm ET.
Hart and Smith are both right in the mix for a potential title shot with a win tonight; though Smith has lost two of three, he still has some credibility (and is seen as vulnerable), and Hart is a capable two-time title challenger at 168 looking to cash in now at 175.
The co-feature will see Omaha’s Steve Nelson face Turkey’s Cem Kilic in a 10-round super middleweight bout. Both are unbeaten, with the 31-year-old Nelson looking to move quickly now, and the 25-year-old Kilic looking to break through, too.
The prelims will feature the usual assortment of Top Rank prospects, including the Adorno brothers, Joseph and Jeremy, plus heavyweight Sonny Conto, welterweight Xander Zayas, and more.
Prelims (ESPN+, 6:30 pm ET)
- Xander Zayas (2-0, 2 KO) vs Corey Champion (1-1, 1 KO), welterweights, 4 rounds
- Sonny Conto (5-0, 4 KO) vs Curtis Head (5-4, 3 KO), heavyweights, 4 rounds
- Shinard Bunch (5-1, 4 KO) vs Dennis Okoth (4-2-1, 2 KO), welterweights, 6 rounds
- Chris Thomas (13-1-1, 8 KO) vs Samir dos Santos (37-16-3, 26 KO), super middleweights, 8 rounds
- Jeremy Adorno (3-0, 1 KO) vs Fernando Ibarra (2-2, 0 KO), lightweights, 4 rounds
- Joseph Adorno (14-0, 12 KO) vs Hector Garcia (14-7-3, 8 KO), lightweights, 8 rounds
Main Card (ESPN, 10:00 pm ET)
- Steve Nelson (15-0, 12 KO) vs Cem Kilic (14-0, 9 KO), super middleweights, 10 rounds
- Jesse Hart (26-2, 21 KO) vs Joe Smith Jr (24-3, 20 KO), light heavyweights, 10 rounds