ATLANTIC CITY — Philadelphia boxer Jesse Hart lived up to his new "Hollywood" nickname quickly Saturday night at Ocean Resort Casino.
Hart (25-1, 21 knockouts) earned a technical knockout win over opponent Mike Gavronski (24-3-1, 15 KOs) just 52 seconds into Round 3, validating his No. 1 WBO super middleweight ranking in convincing fashion.
Fellow Philadelphian Bryant Jennings (24-2, 14 KOs) followed up Hart's victory with a technical knockout of his own in the ensuing heavyweight contest, stopping Alexander Dimitrenko (41-4, 26 KOs) in Round 9.
Hart first knocked down Gavronski within the opening 30 seconds of Round 3. Gavronski rose to his feet, but Hart swiftly dispatched him again with another round of heavy punches. When Gavronski emerged wobbly and disoriented from the second knockdown, referee Eric Dali ruled a technical knockout and Hart responded accordingly, leaping onto the ropes and facing the crowd to celebrate.
"When I looked at his eyes after the first knockdown, he got real scared," said Hart. "He started holding, grabbing. With a guy like that, he got real scared. He was fighting for survival. There's a difference between fighting to win and fighting for survival."
Hart, continuing his impressive run since losing his undefeated record and a shot at the world title to Gilberto Ramirez last September, came out aggressively right from the opening bell.
Hart landed several big hits in Round 1, and, although Gavronski kept to his feet, his forehead was noticeably reddened by the end of the three minutes. The Tacoma, Wash., boxer seemed to find his groove a bit in Round 2, taking advantage of Hart's apparent disregard for defense to get in a few counterpunches, but the tide quickly and decisively turned in Round 3.
The win is Hart's third in a row this year — all by technical knockout, all within seven rounds — and sets up a potential rematch with Ramirez, which Hart called for immediately in a post-knockout interview.
"I'm right here," said Hart. "Come on, man. Stop with the excuses. I'm right here in front of you."
Jennings and Dimitrenko's duel was significantly longer and more evenly matched, at least for a while.
After three cagey and uneventful opening rounds, underdog Dimitrenko knocked down Jennings in Round 4 — though the latter seemed no worse for the wear overall — and seemed to briefly take the upper hand. But Jennings responded quickly with a strong Round 5, helping to open the fight up and permanently shifting momentum in his favor.
"I was prepared for a tough 12 rounds," said Jennings. "I did what I had to do. I was in great shape. He's a big dude. He's not as slow as I thought. I made adjustments."
Jennings nearly earned the knockout in Round 8, flooring the Ukraine native and German fighter twice and landing a fight-high 29 punches in the round, and Dimitrenko looked to be on his last legs. The crowd of 2,543 at the casino venue, most of which were in vocal support of the two Philadelphians, reached its loudest decibels of the night in anticipation of an imminent conclusion.
Dimitrenko ultimately made it out of the round, but not the following one, as referee Allen Huggins waved off the fight after Dimitrenko was knocked down again 1:56 into Round 9.
The abrupt ending drew ire both on social media and from Dimitrenko himself. "I wanted to continue the fight," he said afterward. "I don't know why the referee stopped it."
But Jennings nonetheless deserved the victory, at least based on how he was going: over the final three rounds, he landed 45 power shots while receiving only 13, according to CompuBox.