Jesse Hart is happy.
It sounds simple, but it’s a big part of who he is. People notice when he isn’t flashing his big smile. Hart walked around 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia with a pep in his step at the Thursday night weigh-in for his match against Mike Guy.
Hart (26-3, 21 KOs) remembers his last fight, a 2020 loss to Joe Smith on ESPN. He says he wasn’t happy then. He also wasn’t happy for a period of time after that fight. But a different man was at the weigh-in.
“You see Jesse?” RDR promoter Rodney Rice said, noticing Hart’s joy.
“A fighter is at his peak performance when he’s happy,” Hart said.
Hart and Guy (12-6-1, 5 KOs) will be the co-main event in a seven-fight card at 2300 Arena on Friday night. The light heavyweight contest is scheduled for eight rounds. First bell is at 7 p.m.
Samuel Teah and Larry Fryers will be the main event in a 10-round junior welterweight contest.
Walking toward the ring, Hart looked back behind him, where front-row spectators will be sitting on Friday night. He stared at the seats, realizing this was his homecoming.
Most of Philly’s best fighters got a chance to start their careers at home. Hart’s career started in Las Vegas on the undercard of a Timothy Bradley vs. Manny Pacquiao fight.
“This is how it should’ve been done,” Hart said. “My friends being in this front row, that’s life to me.”
Guy knows the home crowd will be in Hart’s favor. So will the height. While Guy stands at 5-foot-8, Hart is 6-3 with a 77 1/2-inch reach.
Guy’s plan is to crowd Hart’s space.
“I got to constantly keep that distance close,” Guy said. “His power is at the end of his shots, so I’m not worried about being smothered up. He needs to feel what kind of power I bring and what kind of strength I have.”
Both Hart and Guy have fought Demond Nicholson. Hart knocked him out and Guy lost via a split decision.
“It has the drama there,” Rice. “This guy has part of Jesse’s kryptonite. Guy’s that come in hard.”
Guy isn’t using the previous fights as a study method, noting that every fighter is different.
Hart’s goal is simple. Leave the ring with his hand raised. To get there, he’ll be knocking off 20 months of ring rust, but that’s not important to him. The more important factor is having his daughter at another time of his fights and his father, former Philly middleweight contender, Eugene “Cyclone” Hart.
Hart said his father told him to “stay calm and stay patient. Don’t try to go out there and be me.”
On the back of Hart’s ring attire will be a message. The words “North Philly” and “28th & Berks” will be on his jacket.
Hart admits that at one point in his career he went too commercial. That’s where the flamboyant style of Hollywood Hart took over. Now, he says, he’s never going back to that.
“Hardwork Hart is from the slums of Philadelphia,” Hart said. “An area where I fought to get my refrigerator full.”