The D.C. Boxing Legends webpage highlights a video montage of some of Sugar Ray Leonard’s greatest achievements, arguably the greatest welterweight champion in boxing history whose Prince George’s County roots connect him to the District.
Perhaps at some point in the future, that Legends website will feature Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, the undefeated welterweight who hails out of Southeast and who’s looking to improve on his already impressive 29-0 record as he returns home to fight Michael “The Silent Assassin” Dallas, Jr.
“There’s a lot of young fighters coming out of D.C. now and it feels good just to be a part of it,” said Hernandez-Harrison, whose fight headlines Roc Nation’s “Throne Boxing” event at the Armory that’ll be televised live on BET beginning at 10 p.m. on Friday, May 13.
The fight will also be streamed live on global music and entertainment platform, TIDAL.com, and true to form for Roc Nation, the evening will feature a live music performance, a host and a top-notch disc jockey that officials said will keep the energy at a high level throughout the night.
Mostly, though, the night serves as another example of big time boxing’s newest love affair with Washington, D.C.
“All of the top promoters, Golden Boy, Top Rank, Mayweather, have all played major roles in boxing in D.C. and that’s what feels the best about all of this,” Hernandez-Harrison said.
“There’s some guys from D.C. that you should watch like Aujee Tyler who everyone around here knows. I can probably name a lot of guys in D.C. who are going to make it big.”
The 21 year old has been fighting for nearly five years and recently inked a deal with Roc Nation, the company headed by hip-hop legend Jay Z. And, Hernandez-Harrison is already reaping the benefits of being aligned with the megastar.
“I signed with Roc Nation because of what they could do for me inside and outside the ring,” he said.
Hernandez-Harrison has already signed endorsement deals with Fila and Geico.
“These deals with huge companies like that, especially for someone my age, is great,” he said. “I walk around D.C. and I see Fila ads and it’s me in them and I look at Geico and they’re huge.”
Also, signing with Roc Nation wasn’t just about Jay Z, Hernandez-Harrison said, noting that he didn’t meet the “Watch the Throne” artist until after he signed with the company.
The Southeast native’s love of boxing is matched only by his fondness for staying busy.
Recently and despite his status as a rising star and serious contender, Hernandez-Harrison served as sparring partner for Middleweight Champion Canelo Alvarez in his fight earlier this month against Amir Khan.
The sparring sessions apparently worked as Alvarez successfully defended his title with a one-punch knockout of Khan in the sixth round of their championship bout.
“It was a great experience to spar with Canelo for the Khan fight. I’d love to go back and do it again,” Hernandez-Harrison said, ignoring talk that he’s becoming a star in his own right and stars usually don’t spar with other fighters for their fights.
“I don’t care about any of that. I’ve had sparring partners who were undefeated. I like to keep busy,” he said.
With 197 amateur bouts and multiple national titles, Hernandez-Harrison decided to turn pro at the age of 17, becoming the youngest licensed pro fighter in the U.S. in 2011. However, his future was paved at 10 months old when, as home videos reveal, he’d shadow box in baby clothes.
At age six, Hernandez-Harrison participated in his first boxing exhibition at the historic Ritz Nightclub in Northwest. By eight, he was competing in sanctioned amateur matches and quickly amassed championship medals, including the National Silver Gloves Championships, National Golden Gloves Championships and the Ringside World Championships.
“I’m only 21 now; I don’t really need time to relax and fights don’t take as much of a toll on me as someone who is older,” Hernandez-Harrison said.
Fighting at home adds to that relaxation and provides extra motivation even with the enormous amount of ticket requests that come with being in the District, he said.
“My mom and others help me with that,” he said.
While Hernandez-Harrison declined to imitate Muhammad Ali in predicting the outcome of his fight with Dallas, he did have offer a few words to consider.
“I think I’ll shine. As the fight goes on, the better you’ll see me perform,” he said.