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Jesse Hart thrilled to fight May 2

When super middleweight prospect Jesse Hart got a recent phone call from his promoter, Top Rank's Bob Arum, it brought tears to his eyes.

Arum was calling with the news that he had personally selected Hart to be one of the Top Rank fighters on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao mega-fight on May 2 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

"My eyes got big and I was like, 'For real?' I originally had a fight on April 10 and he said it was canceled. 'You're fighting on May 2,'" Hart told ESPN.com on Thursday. "I only knew of one other card on May 2. He said, 'Yup, you're on the card, your first 10-round fight.'

"As I was talking to him, my eyes were watering up. This was a for real moment."

Hart's opponent is not set yet, but he will fight for his first title, the regional USBA belt.

"You got to look at the opportunity and just be grateful," Hart said. "It's a big deal to be on a card like this. I love Bob Arum. He's not only my promoter. We talk often and not just about boxing. He gives me advice on my family life and things I should do raising my daughter. I have a father but Bob is also a father figure to me. He gives me advice on things I don't know.

"I have genuine love for Bob Arum and Top Rank. And my matchmaker at Top Rank, Brad Goodman, is the best in the business. They have treated me so good. I am excited to be on the biggest card in the history of boxing. I come from North Philly, a very rough area. To make it out there to be on a card of this magnitude, it's a big deal."

Hart's father is Eugene "Cyclone" Hart, a 1970s middleweight contender, who once fought Marvin Hagler. Jesse Hart (16-0, 13 KOs), 25, was a standout amateur, going 85-11 and winning the 2011 National Golden Gloves and USA Nationals. He just missed a 2012 U.S. Olympic berth on a double-tiebreaker and is developing into one of boxing's top prospects.

Arum, who has known Hart's father for decades, said he pulled rank to make sure Hart had a spot on the May 2 card.

"He's one of my favorites," Arum said. "I really, really like the kid. I pulled seniority. It's my company and I made the call. No secret agenda other than I really like the kid and I think he has a bright future.

"He's such a gentleman. I love the kid. Every fight he has he calls me up and he thanks me. Who does that? And I am a great admirer of his father. So to be able to do this, to put the kid on this big show, it makes me feel good. I said to [others at Top Rank], 'That's my spot. I'm picking Jesse.'"

There is not a lot of room on the card. Part of the difficult negotiations to make Mayweather-Pacquiao included specifics on the undercard. In addition to the main event, Top Rank and Mayweather Promotions, who are co-promoting the card, each will make one fight apiece to serve as undercard bouts on the joint HBO PPV/Showtime PPV telecast. Beyond those bouts there will be four other preliminary fights with Top Rank and Mayweather Promotions each making two others.

Hart knows that Arum could have picked any of the dozens of fighters he promotes for the undercard.

"It's not necessarily pressure but I'm so excited that he recognizes my talent," Hart said. "If the boss of the company calls and says, 'You're on the card,' it's my opportunity to become a superstar. He helped make Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd into superstars and you can go back to Muhammad Ali to see what he has done. Bob Arum makes guys into superstars, and that's what I want to be."

Hart said getting a coveted position on the card makes him work even harder in training.

"I was in the gym and I'm thinking, 'I'm on the biggest card in the world.' My dad and everyone is happy," Hart said. "After this they're gonna know who I am. It makes me train even harder. My dad had to pull me back but I'm still getting up at 5 in the morning and running six miles, five days a week. Go to the gym at 3 in the afternoon and train. At night I go swimming.

"We are training hard for this fight like we're fighting for a world title, doing six-minute rounds in sparring."

Hart is a student of boxing. Modern fighters such as Roy Jones and Philadelphia's Bernard Hopkins ("He's like a big brother. I love Bernard Hopkins. He means a lot to me.") are his favorites, but he also reels off the names of the old-timers he watches on video, guys his father brought to his attention, such as Sugar Ray Robinson, Mickey Walker, Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep, Sandy Sadler, Jersey Joe Walcott and Carmen Basilio.

Someday Hart hopes to accomplish a fraction of what those men did.

"Bob said being on this card should inspire you to be in the main event, and it does," Hart said. "After boxing, Bob will still be a friend of my family. I can't explain how much he has done for my life. Things I can't talk to my dad about I can go to him. He's like the angel on my shoulder."