On Friday, May 13, 2016, undefeated Roc Nation Sports Welterweight prospect, Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (29-0-1, 16 KOs) returned home to the DC Armory in Washington, DC to face off against Bakersfield, California’s, Mike Dallas Jr. (21-3-2, 10 KOs).
The fight headlined a Throne Boxing event which was televised live on BET and streamed live on TIDAL.com.
Going into the fight, a major question being asked of Hernandez-Harrison was if he was a big enough draw to headline a television bout in DC.
Though Hernandez-Harrison had already headlined the inaugural Throne Boxing event—Roc Nation Sports’ first entry into boxing—Friday night was a different test, given the fact that we already knew what the bells and whistles would be.
This night had to be about Hernandez-Harrison the fighter, his skills and how he would perform under the lights.
Dusty came out patient in Round 1 as Dallas threw about 15 unanswered shots. Though they were not in succession, Dallas was already showing glimpses of what he would do the entire fight–outwork his opponent.
Inexplicably, Dusty would stand in close, posing with a high guard and allowing Dallas to throw a number of answered punches.
Dallas continued his aggression during the next few rounds, beating Hernandez-Harrison to the punch and getting through his guard with well-placed body blows.
Though Dusty took much of the sting off of Dallas’ punches, he began to show visible signs of being hit as his eye began to swell and the side of his face turned red.
To the chagrin of the pro-Dusty crowd, the hometown fighter continued to stand at an easy striking distance for Dallas–all while not throwing punches.
After the bout, Hernandez-Harrison’s trainer Barry Hunter summed up the performance.
“We didn’t capitalize on the right moments,” said Hunter. “We should have jabbed more.”
Instead of doubling and tripling the jab like Hunter asked, Dusty fought a fight which didn’t seem to play to his strengths.
Dusty did mix some positive new wrinkles in his game. One of the more interesting things he did was show off a few exaggerated feints a la Middleweight champion, Canelo Alvarez–something that worked against Dallas and certainly a tactic Dusty picked up while training with the Mexican superstar.
In Round 5, Dusty and Dallas exchanged power punches at close quarters, which Dusty caught the worst of. Dallas landed a big left, which wobbled and dropped Dusty. The knockdown occurred towards the end of the round, allowing Dusty to survive–albeit on shaky legs.
To his credit, Dusty came back in the following round looking for some get back and backed Dallas up with hard combinations. Though his toughness is clearly a reason to root for him, Dusty fought small throughout the bout and made things difficult for himself.
Perhaps frustrated with his performance, Dusty took a number of cheap shots on Dallas, landing to the back, back of the head and hitting while the referee would slowly arrive to break the fighters.
Dusty did a lot of suspect stuff in there when he wasn’t composed. He will learn from this, hopefully. #boxing
— Raging Babe (@RagingBabe) May 14, 2016
In Round 8, Dallas was dropped by what could have been called a low blow, but many ringside observers called it a legit knockdown (without the benefit of replay).
Dallas tried to play to the referee after the borderline low blow, but referee Malik Waleed ruled it a knockdown and that ended up playing a major factor on the scorecards.
As the fight came down the stretch, Dusty closed the 10-round bout strong as both men elected to trade power punches.
“I think I finished the fight with that late knockdown,” said Hernandez-Harrison, who felt he did enough to come away with the decision.
As the fight went to the cards, there was a lot of buzz in the arena with people anticipating a close and controversial decision.
After the split-decision verdict was read, the 2663 fans inside the DC Armory voiced their displeasure.
Some felt that Dusty had done enough to win, while others thought Dallas clearly pulled it off.
After the bout, Dusty reiterated the fact that he felt he had won, though he did offer to fight Dallas again.
“I’ll fight him in Bakersfield, I’ll fight him right now,” said Hernandez-Harrison.
Dallas was extremely disappointed and played up the fact that Dusty was the hometown fighter.
“My opinion is he won a solid decision in his hometown,” said a dejected Dallas.
As fans and media filed out of the Armory, people seemed to be pleased–or entertained–with the main event they had just witnessed. And at the end of the day, that may be Hernandez-Harrison’s best quality–he’s fun to watch.
A couple of years ago, during one of our many interviews, I asked Dusty what he wanted to accomplish in the sport. Unlike many other fighters who rattle of the typical “be a world champion” or “retire undefeated,” Hernandez-Harrison told me he wanted to be the people’s champ.
He said he wanted people to enjoy his fights and see him as a positive symbol representing Washington, DC.
Hernandez-Harrison is not the DC Boxing Commission, so we can’t fault him for questionable referees or any scoring decisions.
He showed tremendous heart by getting up, and although his future as a boxing star may be in question, the fact that people left feeling they got their money’s worth says a lot about how far Dusty can go.
Alejandro "Alex" Burgos is a former Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Round By Round Boxing. He is a professional blogger, SEO Consultant and Marketing Director at Capital Practice Consulting in Washington, DC. Alex can be reached at Alex@RoundByRoundBoxing.com.