The line, as sung by Sinatra in my head, ricochets around me head every so often.
“If I can make it there/ I’m gonna make it anywhere/?It’s up to you, New York, New York.”
The snippet pinballed in my brain for spell after talking to Dusty Hernandez Harrison (pictured above), the 20 year-old welterweight from DC who headlines the Roc Nation Sports Jan. 9 show the Madison Square Garden Theatre, portions of which will run on Fox Sports 1.
Even though Dusty is a young ‘un, it’s actually been a long time coming for him to get to this immense stage, which he will share with Long Islander Tommy Rainone, in the first show, tagged “throne boxing,” of a three-card package pairing RNS and FS1.
“I’ve been boxing my whole life,” the 24-0 (13 KOs) scrapper told me. He whacked a heavy bag in his dad’s apartment while he was still doing his business in diapers, he told me, and so it’s fair to say this kid is likely candidate to be a lifer, someone for whom boxing is a reason to be.
Dusty and his father/trainer Buddy Harrison run a gym, “Old School Boxing,” in Maryland, outside DC, and the hitter told me he’s keen to win and leave an imprint on watchers Jan. 9. Harrison has a wealth of amateur experience, over 200 bouts to his credit, and has been stepped up incrementally since turning pro in 2011. He’s sometimes chomping at the bit to bite into bigger game, but, he said, he knows that he needs to build up an experience base.
One thing I wanted to get out of the way, his name. I’ve seen a few iterations of it floating around. Explain, please..
He was born Arturo Hernandez and then his parents split. Dad re-christened him Arthur Harrison III, which the fighter cracked sounds like the name of a guy who was the 23rd president of the United State. His mom, of Puerto Rican descent, is “Hernandez,” so he uses that name now. Boxrec lists him as Dusty Hernandez Harrison, but in many places, the mom’s surname would go last, so Dusty would answer to “Dusty Harrison Hernandez.” Quite likely, the kid will be over the moon the night of Jan. 9, because the golden-throated emcee for the ages, Michael Buffer will be telling the world that “Dusty Hernandez Harrison” will be getting ready to rumble.
He’s cognizant of how far he’s come, he tells me, and is quite pleased that mom and dad will both be present to see him try to pull off an NYC splash. Dad is something of a fighter himself, having done a ten year bid for armed robbery before Dusty was born, but he has been on the straight and narrow for a long spell now, helping to guide Dusty to this time on the stage. “Mom is Puerto Rican, dad is Irish, so you know I know how to fight,” he cracked. Mom will be given a front row ticket, which the fighter joked she will waste, because as soon as her baby boy gets cracked, so takes off, and hides her eyes.
I asked about Rainone (22-5-1, just 4 KOs), and if his skills will make mom shudder. “He’s a pretty slick boxer,” Dusty said. “I want to win convincingly. I like to go to the head and body, mix it up. I will be taller, with longer arms. You might see a little something different from me, I normally use outside boxing, but you might see a little more pressure. I do love to impress people,” he stated.
No, he said, he won’t be reckless. He knows the importance of an unbeaten record, and he’d like to hold on to that honor as long as he can. “I like being unbeaten, because it means I don’t know how to lose. Sometimes you see guys lose, and start to get a bit comfortable with that. I don’t want that to happen.”
DHH said he’s proud and humbled to be the headliner on this first RNS show, as they could have virtually had their pick of the litter for that featured slot. Rainone quite well could be the best he’s fought, on paper, he said, so he’s taking the gig more than seriously.
I’ll be watching up close and one thing I will be reminding myself is that DHH is just 20. We talk about some “young” fighters who are practically graybeards in comparison, the Broners and Canelos and such. So Dusty isn’t a finished product, and so he’s still in the collecting experience mode. He wants to fight five or more times in 2015, though the template for the year will be set on Jan. 9.
Will DHH “wake up in a city/That doesn’t sleep/And find I’m king of the hill/Top of the heap,” or will Rainone be a New Year’s spoiler?
It’s up to you, Dusty..