by David P. Greisman
He fought at the end of January. He’s fighting again in early March. If he wins, he’s looking at appearing on another major card at the end of April.
This is the developmental phase for welterweight prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, who turned pro when he was just 17 years old and now, a few months shy of his 20th birthday, is 20-0 with 11 knockouts.
Harrison is coming off a unanimous decision over Tim Witherspoon Jr. on the Jan. 31 episode of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.” He’ll be back on that series on March 7.
The native of Washington, D.C., took a brief break at his gym to speak with BoxingScene.com on Feb. 17.
BoxingScene.com: Have you gone back and watched your fight with Tim Witherspoon Jr.?
Harrison: “Yeah, I’ve watched it a few times. I actually just watched it again before I came to the gym today.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think you did well in that fight?
Harrison: “You know, putting that much pressure on somebody, it was like a Catch-22. A lot of people wanted me to get more distance, because I am a tall fighter. But if I have distance, it gives him a chance to succeed, because he’s just as tall as me. I think the pressure actually worked well. It took away everything that he had. He couldn’t get his punches off on the inside, and I could. And of course, I thought I was in great shape for that fight.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you feel like you could improve on?
Harrison: “Maybe picked up the combinations a little more. Sometimes I would dig one or two shots. I think combinations a little more.”
BoxingScene.com: As a viewer, it looked like you got hit cleanly with some shots. Are there some thing defensively you feel like you could’ve improved on?
Harrison: “I mean, maybe. But any time you’re putting the pressure on, you’re going to get hit. Some things you just have to say, ‘It’s boxing,’ you know?”
BoxingScene.com: You’re fighting again on March 7. That’s a quick turnaround for you.
Harrison: “For me? Not that quick for me.”
BoxingScene.com: That’s true. You did fight eight times in 2012 and eight times in 2013. Why do you like to stay busy like that?
Harrison: “I’m young. It gives me motivation. Sometimes to be in the gym training for nothing … if you always have a fight, it helps me train hard. I like it.”
BoxingScene.com: But at a certain point in the pros, they begin to step back the activity. How long do you see yourself staying this busy?
Harrison: “At least this year. The fights are getting bigger. It’s hard. The 10-rounder I did in New York, I don’t know if I could do eight of those a year. It was a hard fight. It was a tough fight. So as the fights get harder and longer, I’ll slow down.”
BoxingScene.com: This upcoming fight is out in California. You train in the D.C. area. Would you prefer to fight more often in the D.C. area?
Harrison: “Of course. I would fight here every month if I could, but it’s getting harder now. I fought a lot here in 2012. I hope to come back soon. I can’t wait.”
BoxingScene.com: I’ve seen the crowds out here for Lamont Peterson. I feel like there’s a potential for young prospects like you to make D.C. into a big boxing city.
Harrison: “Yeah, when I fought May 18 at UDC (University of the District of Columbia), 3,000 people were there. It was great. I loved that. I just wish it could happen more often.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you want to do with your career in 2014?
Harrison: “More fights like the Witherspoon fight on TV. Step it up, as my team wants me to. I guess see how I do in each fight and go from there.”
BoxingScene.com: You’re still young, just 19 years old. How long do you want to be in this development phase until you start moving up to contenders and title shots
Harrison: “I never want to be in it. I always want to move it up. But it’s up to them. I listen to them. I’ve been asking for harder fights since I was 1-0. It’s up to them. I listen.”
BoxingScene.com: But as far as a title shot, how far off do you think that is?
Harrison: “Maybe 2015. Maybe. I’ll be turning 21 in 2015, get a little more man strength, see if I can stay at this weight. I’ve made the weight very fine, but I’ll get older, so I’ll see if I can stay there.”
BoxingScene.com: You are going to grow into your body as you get older. How high do you think you can go, division-wise, or do you not want to give yourself an excuse not to diet?
Harrison: “I don’t want to go. I want to stay at 147. The good thing is I do have the height to go up. I’m 6-foot. I can go up. So either way, I think I’ll be fine.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you like about fighting in the welterweight division?
Harrison: “This is the big weight class. All the big names are here. Even people who don’t know boxing, there’s always going to be those two names they know, Mayweather and Pacquiao, at welterweight. Right now it’s the most exciting weight class, especially for America. You got the heavyweights overseas.”
BoxingScene.com: What else do you want people to know?
Harrison: “If anybody wants to follow my career, Instagram and Twitter is @Dusty30th. Facebook, the fan page is under Dusty Harrison. I’m on there regularly.”
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]