Dusty Hernandez Harrison wants to pick up where he left several years ago.

Harrison returns to action tonight against Norberto Gonzalez at the Acca Shriners Center in Richmond, Virginia. The eight-round bout will headline a River City Promotions card that will stream live on Fite.tv/ TrillerTV (7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT).

Tonight’s fight is a light heavyweight match-up.

Harrison (35-0-1, 21 knockouts), who resides in Washington, D.C., last fought on September 15, stopping journeyman Ronald Montes in the third round. Harrison weighed a career-high 186.5 pounds. 

Back in 2015, Harrison was a can’t-miss prospect who became a fringe contender at 147 pounds. Signing with Roc Nation, fighting on ESPN2 and Fox Sports 1, and earning a sponsorship with Fila, Harrison thought significant fights would come his way.

Then, there were alleged reports Harrison had stopped going to the gym after proposed or fights that were verbally agreed to fell through. After a decision win over Thomas Lamanna in September 2016, Harrison would not fight again until March 2019. Harrison fought twice more in 2019, and would fight one final time in February 2020, stopping former fringe contender Les Sherrington. 

Harrison weighed 175 pounds for the Sherrington fight. Then, there was the pandemic, and more proposed fights that fell through. 

It was peaks and valleys as far as personal tragedies that also affected his life, in and out of the ring. In March 2018, Aujee Tyler, a 17-year-old prospect, was murdered. Harrison and Tyler were close friends up until the shooting.

Harrison also had a rocky relationship with his father and trainer, Buddy Harrison. Both reconciled and there was a comeback in the works until tragedy struck in September 2022, when the 62-year-old Harrison was shot and killed outside his Southeast Washington, D.C. home. 

Three shooting suspects remain at large.

During this time, Harrison began his hand at promoting fight cards, aptly named the ‘Beltway Battles.’

Harrison overcame the emotional fatigue during this period, beginning to run and exercise to shed off the weight, which was tipping the scale around 300 pounds. 

“I’m just extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue my boxing career,” Harrison told BoxingScene Thursday night. “18 months ago, I was nearly 300 pounds and years out of the ring, I thought it was over for me. Then I lost my father and I realized that ‘rock bottom’ can always get worse if you do not persistently work to better your situation than any storm you are in.”

The 29-year-old Harrison will face a fighter in Gonzalez (24-14, 13 KOs), who resides in Monterrey, Mexico. Gonzalez has lost six of his last seven bouts and has not fought since losing to Justin Biggs in August 2019.

A win over Gonzalez will put Harrison in a position to fight Scott Sigmon on March 16 in Lynchburg, Virginia. That fight will be fought at 168 pounds.

Harrison is eager and excited to see what the future holds.

“Norberto has proved to provide tough rounds for some of the best and I look forward to getting quality rounds in,” said Harrison. “It will be beneficial for my career. I hope to be in a position to be mentioned for big fights sometime this year.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene since September 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing