A Ray Charles tune buzzed through the speakers at Joe Hand's Gym. Jesse Hart - shirtless and sweating - jostled around the boxing ring last week, throwing jabs at the air.
He matched his short white shorts with a pair of high white socks with red and blue stripes at the top. The North Philadelphian dressed like a '70s basketball player, not an up-and-coming boxer.
"I'm old school," said Hart, who will fight Saturday in South Philly. "I'm not a 12-round fighter, I'm a 15-round fighter. That's why I was playing Ray Charles, James Brown, and those guys."
Saturday's eight-round bout at the 3200 Arena is Hart's first hometown main event. The 25-year-old (15-0, 12 knockouts) meets Samuel Miller (28-9, 25 KOs). It will be televised by Unimas.
Hart said his old-school mentality comes from his father, Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, and his trainer, Fred Jenkins. Hart's father was one of the sport's most punishing hitters in the 1970s. Jenkins left the ring after three fights to quickly become one of the city's top cornermen.
"I'm going to be successful because of the trainers I have in my corner. They're old school," Hart said. "They come from that 15-round era. When you have that in your corner, you have to acknowledge that and be thankful for that."
A banner in the gym welcomes guests to "the home of future world champion Jesse Hart." The boxer feels he is close to losing that "future" label.
Top Rank Promotions, which signed Hart before his first pro fight, seems to be guiding him toward a world title.
"We're knocking on the door," Hart said. "We've got one foot in. Whoever they throw at me, I'm taking."