He’s in the holiday spirit, as much as a guy counting down to a fight on January 9 can be, anyway.
Tommy Rainone, the Hicksville, Long Island prizefighter who is the underdog on paper in his planned for tussle against Dusty Hernandez Harrison at the Madison Square Garden Theater, was sliding and shuffling and holding off on throwing counterpunches on the hordes at some of the malls he visited today, Tuesday, as he got in some last-minute-ish shopping for friends and family.
The mobility and the countering will come in handy when he meets DHH, on Roc Nation’s first boxing card, portions of which will run on Fox Sports 1.
“Yeah, I’m in the holiday spirit to the extent I can be,” the 34-year-old with a 22-5-1 mark (4 KOs) told me.
He was doing a couple interviews before heading off to the gym, he said, and he will stay on message Wednesday, Christmas Eve, and turn an evil eye to the delicious holiday treats at his uncles’ house in Queens, where his family will convene. There was no woe is me from Rainone, a self managed boxer who debuted as a pro in 2006.
“I don’t remember the last time I even went out on New Year’s Eve,” he told me. “I gotta do what I gotta do…and it’s gonna pay dividends.”
Hernandez-Harrison doesn’t think so, of course, and Rainone isn’t under any illusions, hasn’t been dipping too heavy into the egg nog, and getting himself into a state where he’s not seeing clearly. He knows he ins’t being invited to the party as the guest of honor, the unbeaten kid with the tremendous upside. “Yeah, of course, I know what my role is,” he said, with admirable humility and insight. “I’m the guy with the decent record, who is durable, so they know I can go rounds, and I don’t have power, so they think.” The paucity of KOs, he told me, is deceptive, so if DHH is thinking he’s going to be in there with a pillowfist…nah. “The black and white of it is that…the gray of it is that I have dropped 15 or 16 of my foes. But I’m not a finisher,” he told me. “Why am I not? It’s a mentality, mostly. Some of the best punchers, the Golovkins and Kovalevs, they were born with it, it’s natural. But a guy like a Pacquiao, it’s based on his mentality. Mayweather, he’s different, he’s not going to be reckless. He’s not gonna step on the gas, maybe get caught. So he’s not taken the damage. In my last fight (Nov. 13 vs. 8-5 Carl McNickles, UD10 win), I dropped the guy twice, but then he wasn’t ready to go. So I backed off.”
I asked Rainone to give a scouting report on himself. “I’m a very good counter puncher,” he said. “I move well. I have a busy jab, but it’s not one that I can go out there and control the fight, like Oscar De la Hoya, or Paul Malignaggi. My ring IQ, my ring generalship, are my strong points. I’m usually in control of the tempo.” He cited his ability to fight relaxed, and his straight left as a solid weapon. His defense is solid, the said, but he’d like to see himself use his right hook more, and he knows his power isn’t Gennady-ish. What about Dusty, what is he all about? “He’s a good fighter, has good height and reach,” Rainone said. “He’s very composed, relaxed, especially for a 20 year old kid. His stamina is good, he doesn’t try to do too much. He has good, solid fundamentals. I don’t see a very big puncher. I see a good, solid fighter.”
Is that maybe how you’d describe you?”Yeah,” said Rainone, who acknowledged this tussle could be a mental tussle, a physical chess match…or maybe he gets surprised by Dusty’s pop…or maybe Disty get surprised by his, and the waltz turns into a mosh pit frenzy for a bit. In other words, we will have to tune in…
“Boxing is eighty percent mental,” Rainone told me. “You can be in great shape and have a great skill set, but so much of it is mental, more than people think. I’m looking to test him, bring him to places he’s never been, and ask him questions he hasn’t had to answer yet.”
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