Jesse Hart impressive in pro debut, scoring 33-second TKO

Posted: June 12, 2012

LAS VEGAS — It is one thing to be on the undercard of a pay-per-view megafight card. It's another to be an undercard fighter.

Technically, North Philadelphia's Jesse Hart made his professional debut on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao/Timothy Bradley fight that was on HBO pay-per-view Saturday.

But Hart's super-middleweight fight with Manuel Eastman, of New Mexico, was the first bout of the evening — about 2 1/2 hours before the telecast began.

Hart was surrounded by all the glitz and glamour of a big Vegas boxing card. It's just that the people were missing.

Despite fans paying $200 to $1,200 a seat, the MGM Grand Arena did not fill until Pacquiao and Bradley fought.

Five hours earlier, when Hart began the card, it was still a family-and-friends audience.

That didn't matter to Hart, who made quick work of Eastman (0-2) with a technical knockout just 33 seconds into the bout.

Stepping back from Hart, Eastman, for some reason, offered to touch gloves high. Hart obliged with a quick glove tap and then nailed Eastman with a wicked right to the body.

Eastman, 20, backed into a corner and Hart, 22, pummeled him with a series of hard headshots until the referee stopped the fight.

"The first thing you learn is protect yourself at all times," said Hart, the son of legendary Philadelphia boxer Eugene "Cyclone" Hart. "I came here to fight. I didn't come here to tap gloves.

“When he went into the corner, it was over. I was in a zone. I'm definitely going to finish. I hurt him. I saw his legs buckle. I was on him until the ref grabbed me and pulled me back.

“If the ref wouldn't have stepped in, I would've kept punching until he went down."

Hart did not see much action Saturday in his debut, but promoter Top Rank already has bouts planned for Hart on July 7 and Aug. 18 in Atlantic City. Opponents have not yet been determined.

Even with the quick ending, Hart said he, "learned a lot."

"I thought coming out here with all this stuff, I might be a little nervous," he said. "But as I got closer to the ring, I got a lot of confidence, a lot of confidence. I felt I was not supposed to be anywhere else but on this grand stage." n

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