By Jake Donovan
Dusty Hernandez-Harrison made headlines when he came the first fighter to formally sign with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports. The unbeaten welterweight prospect made the move ahead of his January 9 showdown with Tommy Rainone, which headlines at Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York City, in an event serving as Roc Nation’s boxing promotional debut.
The signing—along with his face plastered on fight posters and even billboards—suggests that he is the media darling of the promotion, which would normally alert opponents that they are up against the house fighter.
The flip side to that equation is how much geography plays a role on the night. Hernandez-Harrison travels into town from Washington D.C., while Rainone is a local draw with an intriguing backstory. A working class man from Plainview (Long Island), Rainone’s services have been utilized by Top Rank, who have previously placed the New Yorker on undercards at this very venue as well as Yankee Stadium largely on his ability to sell tickets.
Add to the mix his granite chin—having never been dropped or stopped through eight-plus years as a pro—and Hernandez-Harrison not blessed with two-fisted knockout power, and things could get interesting should the fight go rounds, which is the expectation.
“When it comes to that night in the ring and they announce our names, the people are not there specifically for him they are there because it is a boxing event. By that time they have been there all night and they have been drinking and they are just going to go crazy when they hear the kid is from New York,” Hernandez-Harrison (24-0, 13KOs) acknowledges.
“Subconsciously the judges may hear the big cheer every time he throws a punch and every time he lands something, but yes it definitely makes me push harder. It’s a new thing and another part of development for my career fighting in his hometown.”
Friday’s bout—which tops a live Fox Sports 1 telecast beginning at 10:00 p.m. ET—marks Hernandez-Harrison’s third appearance on MSG grounds. The unbeaten 20-year old played the main room last July, scoring an eight-round shutout on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s 3rd round knockout of Daniel Geale.
His previous trip to the Big Apple came on Nov. ’13, also on the undercard of a Golovkin-headlined event. Hernandez-Harrison outpointed Josh Torres over 10 rounds in the same Theatre location that hosts this Friday’s show.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox