This writer first saw 19 year-old Dusty Hernandez Harrison, of Washington, DC, in February of 2013 at the Chase Center, in Wilmington, DE, fighting for the vacant USA Delaware State welterweight title against Kelly Wright of St. Louis, MO. Since both fighters were not from DE I figured the first time promoter was using this as some gimmick to showcase a young talent.
What I witnessed was a young man with skills beyond his years fully centered in on his opponent with an “old school” style! No gimmicks here. What you see is what you got! He’s won 17 straight fights in 25 months and has that Sean O’Grady look of stardom. His father Buddy Harrison is his manager and trainer having his son’s first amateur fight at age 8.
“I actually started Dusty boxing before he could walk. I had him throwing punches while he was in diapers. I purchased a small heavy bag and had it hanging in the apartment. He still lives in the same apartment he was born in (May 21st 1994),” said Buddy Harrison. He and his wife Lynda Hernandez are divorced but she is always at his fights.
When this writer first heard he was out of DC and white I had to wonder but he’s the real deal. “The apartment is in a very rough section of SE Washington, DC. We have been there forever and we have no problems whatsoever. We are friends with everyone,” said Buddy Harrison.
Buddy Harrison said at an interview “he (Dusty) won’t agree but if he never boxed again and grew up to be a decent young man I’d be happy. I couldn’t have said it 10 years ago”. This doesn’t at this stage seem like another “father and son” situation like in the case of Sean O’Grady and his father along with many others. They have had their differences like all father and sons but seem so bonded at ringside.
Harrison has won a national title in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. He has won several Summer Classics, Mayor’s Cup, Ringside Worlds, 2 Silver Gloves Nationals and the Jr. National Golden Gloves in Las Vegas, NV, 3 years in a row from 2007 to 2009. Turning professional after 197 amateur bouts (100 by age 11 and finishing at 167-30) Harrison took out a professional license at age 16 and 2 weeks later had his first professional fight becoming the youngest pro fighter in the USA at that time.
Former WBO light welterweight champion DeMarcus Corley, 39-20-1 (23), of DC, who has sparred with Harrison and at one time trained at the “Old School Gym” is very high on Harrison. “He’s very bright, good hand speed, accurate puncher and should be fighting for a minor title this time next year. So far he is still humble. All the attention has not got to him,” said Corley.
All Harrison’s professional fights can be seen on www.youtube.com They traveled from DC to the DeSoto Civic Center, Southhaven, MS to meet Alphonso Alexander, of Atlanta, GA, a man more than twice his age. Headlining was former WBC/IBF heavyweight champion Hasim Raham. The fight went the distance with Harrison winning all 4 rounds on the score cards.
“When it comes to me he (dad) always teaches me to be a defensive fighter because he feels those are the ones who last in boxing and can speak clearly when they are done with boxing. So you will see a lot of defense and a lot of movement,” said Dusty Harrison.
On Chris Cooley‘s Toyota Sports Talk show prior to his fight with Eddie Soto, Harrison was asked how he stays humble. “I’ve never been one to brag. That’s the way my parents brought me up,” said Harrison. He’s recently added Hernandez as part of his fighting name with respect to his mother who is Puerto Rican while his father is Irish. On his trunks he has both the USA and PR flags. While living with his mother he finished at Thomas Stone High School with a solid B average and was a shooting guard on the school’s 25-2 basketball team. At age 11 he was asked on a Comcast sports interview what kind of fighter do you want to be when you grow up? He answered “undefeated!” That tells it all!
Harrison looks like an All-American young man with the looks and decency of a Tim Tebow. His father also made a comment that his son “in the dressing room leads in prayer”. If there’s a sport that needs a new clean image athlete who can fight its boxing! He was named “2012 Prospect of the Year” by www.Stiffjab.com for winning 8 times with 6 by knockout.
Harrison has been brought along with competition probably no better than he had been in with in the final stages of his amateurs but now at 19 the wins and losses stick with you when it’s on your professional record every time you are introduced before a fight. This writer has covered his 3 bouts in DE where his popularity is growing with each fight and now treated like a hometown fighter. He’s fought 4 times in MS, 1 time in CT and 9 times in DC where his popularity is enormous.
Harrison has scored 10 knockouts in his 17 fights. In his first 2 fights and his fifth he won on all score cards 40-36. In his eighth fight he was dropped for the only time in his career by Marqus Jackson in the sixth and final round. “It was sort of surreal never happening before I just wanted to get up and win the rest of the round,” said Harrison. In his thirteenth and fourteenth fights he won back to back decisions shutting out Aaron Anderson 60-54 and Jonathan Garcia 60-54 twice and 59-55. DHB had it 60-54.
In Harrison’s fifteenth fight he stopped Eddie Soto, 12-6, at the UDC Physical Activities Center in DC before almost 3,000 in attendance. In his sixteenth fight he defeated Ghana veteran Ben “The Congo Soldier” Ankrah, 17-15, over 6 rounds with the scores same as the Garcia fight. Ankrah formerly held the WBO Africa lightweight title along with National titles at lightweight and welterweight. This was on the undercard of the Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and Matt Macklin title fight part of an HBO triple header at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, CT. In all Harrison’s opponents have had 332 fights to his 17.
“We love fighting at Dover Downs. We feel right at home. In fact, the crowd went crazy when Dusty walked out in his last fight. You would have thought he was fighting on a free show right here in SE Washington DC. We are about 90 miles from Dover and his fans (approximately 100) have no problem making the trip. Hopefully, we will be fighting there again soon. (Approx next DD show is November 22nd) The CEO Ed Sutor treats us great. He is a class act and makes good on everything he says”, said Buddy Harrison.
In April in DE Harrison as previously mentioned he fought Jonathan Garcia, 3-4, at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino winning every round on 2 of the score cards and 5 out of 6 on the other while this writer had it a shutout for Harrison. In his most recent fight at Dover Downs August 23rd he broke down Guillermo Valdes, 12-4, in 4 rounds. He scored knockdowns in the second and fourth rounds and in the fourth a barrage of punches had Valdes not returning punches on the ropes causing veteran referee Bill Clancy to wave it off at 0:45 of a scheduled 6. He’s had 2 scheduled 8’s so far along with 10 6’s and 5 4’s.
“We have a gym called “Old School Boxing Gym” at the Rosecroft Racetrack in Ft. Washington, MD,” said Harrison. His 6’0” height at 147 which he hopes to maintain in the welterweight division is certainly a plus. At 19 it may be a difficult task to maintain. “We have an advisor named Jeff Fried (Washington based attorney and sports agent) who has become much more. He is our friend! We both talk to him on a daily basis and we see him at least once a week. I wouldn’t trade places with any other boxer in the world. Jeff Fried is doing everything possible to get Dusty as far as he can possibly go,” said Buddy Harrison.
Fried of ALL-IN Entertainment has worked with boxers Lamont and Anthony Peterson, Riddick Bowe, Shane Mosley, Sharmba Mitchell, Tony Thompson, Winky Wright and orchestrated the endorsement between Jordan Brand of Nike for WBA Super World and WBC super middleweight champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward.
Also in the walk to the ring you will notice a well dressed (suit) man who stands outside the ropes until the introduction named Wes Wesley aka World Wide Wes. July 2007 CQ article states “Is This the Most Powerful Man in Sports?” He might be seen hugging Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones, NBA’s Joe Dumars, with Nike Czar Phil Knight or Jay-Z. “Dusty calls him Uncle Wes and he is at every fight and he also joins us in prayer,” said Buddy Harrison.
In seeking out WBA Super & WBC light welterweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia and his father Angel’s new gym DSG Complex at 3731 Jasper St (nr Castor) in Philly Danny had this to say about working with Harrison. “He’s tall, young, strong, quick with a good future,” said Garcia.
Harrison and his father agreed to do a Q&A for Doghouse Boxing:
KEN HISSNER: I’ve seen you fight 3 times in DE so far in your young career and you mentioned you would be fighting again possibly in September in DC. Has your next fight been confirmed?
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON: Several fighters have been considered but nothing concrete yet.
KEN HISSNER: I’ve seen WBA super world and WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward at Dover Downs in April of this year for one of your fights. I gather your advisor Jeff Fried is the connection between the two of you?
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON: We met Andre through Jeff and he seemed like a good guy. I have watched him fight and he’s one of the best.
KEN HISSNER: Buddy I noticed another well dressed man enter with you to the ring in a suit. Who was that?
BUDDY HARRISON: World Wide Wes (William Wesley). Dusty calls him Uncle Wes. He looks out for Dusty in and outside of the ring. He was at Dusty’s fights in Memphis, Dover, Washington DC, Foxwoods MGM in CT, etc. You will definitely see him with Dusty at every single fight. Not long ago he introduced Dusty to Carmelo Anthony in the dressing room after a game. (See Alex French’s story July 2007 “Is This the Most Powerful Man in Sports?”)
KEN HISSNER: I’ve seen you switch from orthodox to southpaw with much more success than most. Does that come natural or is it something you’ve developed over the years?
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON: I have been practicing that through years of sparring, shadow-boxing, heavy-bag etc…I have switched a few times during fights and stopped all of them soon after.
KEN HISSNER: Buddy also being the manager as well as the trainer of Dusty you had him in 8 fights in 2012 and so far through 8 months in 2013 he’s fought 6 times. With 4 months remaining in the year how many more fights are planned considering there are no injuries?
BUDDY HARRISON: We would love to finish the year out with 8 fights for 2013. Being though Dusty is just 19 I think it’s very important to keep him busy. As the competition gets tougher of course he will not fight as often.
KEN HISSNER: I’ve seen pictures of you and WBA Super world and WBC champion Danny “Swift” Garcia whom I know having interviewed him and being around the Philly gyms for years. Have there been sparring between the two of you?
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON: I went to Philly to spar Danny and he and his father treated me great. I am thankful for the opportunity. Angel is actually a very nice person. Don’t be fooled by the press conferences.
KEN HISSNER: Speaking of Danny Garcia I’ve seen him sparring with DC’s former world champion DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley in preparation for his title defense with Zab Judah. Have you and Corley sparred?
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON: Yes me and Chop Chop have sparred many rounds. He trained at my dad’s gym “Old School Boxing”. Chop Chop is a very close friend of ours and we are always rooting for him regardless who he is fighting. He is an extremely humble guy.
KEN HISSNER: Buddy, you and Dusty’s mother have certainly brought up Dusty to be humble yet confident in the ring. I’ve compared that image to Tim Tebow’s on and off the field. Do you think it’s important not need to be boisterous and yet be successful in boxing?
BUDDY HARRISON: Don’t know much about Tim Tebow, but we are a family that believes in the Lord. The Bible has taught Dusty to be humble. Dusty has been very successful without bragging or talking smack, in fact at every weigh-in he has gone to his opponent and to shake his hand.
KEN HISSNER: Dusty, I’ve noticed not only you but your father have tattoo’s. Do yours have any special meaning?
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON: Well, the Lynda tattoo is my mother and the other is a Bible verse.
KEN HISSNER: I’ve heard your dad mention about you leading prayer in the dressing room before the fight. Does your faith play a part in your boxing career?
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON: Boxing is very important to me and my dad but Jesus comes first before anything.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank the two of you for taking the time to answer these questions and I look forward to possibly see you in DE for a fourth time especially since you have won over their fans like you have. Is there anything the two of you would like to mention in closing?
DUSTY HERNANDEZ HARRISON: I want to thank all my fans. I know that because of them I am successful.
BUDDY HARRISON: Join us in prayer at Dusty’s next fight. Dusty leads prayer at every event.
Ken Hissner responds to all his emails at: firstname.lastname@example.org