By Keith Idec
Tommy Rainone recognizes that, at least on paper, Dusty Hernandez-Harrison is the best opponent of his eight-year pro career.
Rainone is just as sure that he’ll amount to the stiffest test of Hernandez-Harrison’s career. The 35-year-old Rainone (22-5-1, 4 KOs) has fought almost exclusively inexperienced journeymen since he turned pro in November 2006 and settled for a split draw with the Dominican Republic’s Juan Carlos Santos (1-2-1) two fights ago.
Like the 20-year-old Hernandez-Harrison (24-0, 13 KOs), Long Island’s Rainone is a ticket-seller, which partially explains his involvement in the main event of Roc Nation Sports’ first boxing card Friday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden (FOX Sports 1; 10 p.m. ET). Hernandez-Harrison, of Washington, D.C., is promoted by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports.
“On paper of course he is definitely my toughest opponent to date,” Rainone said on a conference call. “I won’t know what’s what until the bell rings, and hopefully he is not. But on paper he is certainly the most accomplished and the best fighter I’ve fought by far. I respect the kid. I think he is a good, solid fighter. I don't think he's a killer. As I’ve said before, I don’t think he’s a guy like an Errol Spence or something like that.
“I also know that, listen, he’s only only 20 years old and people tend to rush people, so the media’s been a little impatient with him as far him stepping up. This is a step-up fight for him. As much as you say this is the best guy that I fought, I promise you that I am the best guy that he has fought. He really hasn't fought great competition yet. I’m not knocking him on that because, again, he turned pro at 17 years old and you can only expect so much from a kid that young. But I’m the best fighter he ever fought. It’s that simple and it kind of works both ways.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.