By Sean Crose
“We argue a lot, but we do work it out.”
Thus says rising welterweight Arturo Hernandez Harrison, better known to the fight world as Dusty. Like many fighters before him, Harrison trains under the auspices of his father, Buddy. “He fought as an amateur,” Harrison says of his father, “but wasn’t able to turn pro.”
Buddy Harrison, Dusty Hernandez Harrison and Phil Ivey
The older Harrison can take pride in the fact that his son has not only turned professional, but is turning heads, as well. This Friday night, the younger Harrison will fight live before the ESPN cameras for the second time this year as he opens the show for ESPNs Friday Night Fights.
Harrison’s opponent will be Michael Balasi, an exciting puncher from Hawaii who’s undoubtedly eager to wipe away the blemish of two previous losses. The fact that Balasi is a southpaw might intimidate some foes, but that’s obviously not the case with Harrison.
Jeff Fried Dusty Hernandez Harrison and Phil Ivey
“I’ve only been sparring with southpaws,” he says, making it clear that precautions have been taken in the lead up to Friday’s battle.
Not that Harrison comes across as being uneasy. At just nineteen years of age, the Washington DC native boasts a 20-0 record. He also possess defensive skills which are heads and tails above those of many veteran fighters. Just watching some of the Dusty’s fights makes one wonder if his ability to avoid punches comes naturally or if it’s something he’s learned in the gym over time.
“I developed my defense in the gym, but at a young age,” Harrison explains. “I was with a lot of older guys,” he adds light-heartedly, “and didn’t want to get hit.”
Being good natured has undoubtedly helped Harrison build a solid fan base in the Washington DC area. “I do owe them a lot,” he says, speaking of his fans. That may sound like a polite, media friendly sound-byte, but there’s real truth to the man’s words.
One woman, for instance, arranged for Harrison fans to be bused up to New York in order to watch Harrison fight in Madison Square Garden. That’s symptomatic of the kind of dedicated fan base that Harrison hopes to grow.
“You should always start in your home town,” he says, “then expand (one’s fan base) from there.”
To be sure, Harrison’s heart and soul is always in his hometown of DC. Like Lamont Peterson and others, Harrison sees himself as a DC fighter. His career has now taken him to California for this week’s bout, but Washington is where Harrison is most comfortable.
“It’s definitely my favorite place to box,” he says. “I have the DC flag on my trunks.”
If all goes well, however, Harrison’s fan base may spread far beyond the boundary of the Potomac. The man fought eight times, that’s eight times, last year and has already fought once in 2014, beating none other than Tim Witherspoon Junior on Friday Night Fights this past January.
ESPN clearly sees Harrison’s potential. A lot more people will see it too if Harrison wins this Friday night. Yet Harrison, who says he wanted to be a professional fighter from the age of twelve, isn’t going to start taking it easy. As he told Round By Round Boxing last year, he’s tough on himself. What’s more, he doesn’t view being tough on himself as a negative. “I think it’s a positive thing,” he states. “There’s always a better fighter (than the last one) out there that you have to face.”
Whether or not that’s something Harrison has learned through experience or from his father, Buddy is unkown. Either way, Dusty’s old man must undoubtedly be pleased.
Dusty’s promoter, All In Entertainment (of which World Poker Superstar Phil Ivey and Jeff Fried are partners) is keeping Dusty active, while making sure each bout and each event is a growth experience, in and out of the ring. “Fighting as the main event in your hometown is key and at one spectrum; and stepping in the ring as an undercard in another City where you are not yet fully known brings another dimension to the development process,” added Fried.