by Sean Crose
“I would not trade places with anybody else in boxing.”
So says Buddy Harrison, father, mentor and trainer of Dusty Hernandez Harrison, the up and coming undefeated welterweight who’s about to headline Roc Nation’s first boxing card next Friday, January 9th, at Madison Square Garden.
The bout, which will be featured on Fox Sports 1, is a huge step for the undefeated Washington DC native. And Buddy makes it clear his son has been getting the star treatment from the company owned and created by Jay Z himself.
“They’re unreal,” he exclaims over the phone. “This is like a dream come true.”
One could imagine it is. When a promotional company calls to check on you all the time while putting your likeness on New York City billboards, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed.
“They call,” the elder Harrison says. “They check on us daily. . .they treat him (Dusty) like he’s the president or something.”
What’s unique about the Harrison brood is that, in an era of “give me what’s mine,” they come across as humble, modest people. Speaking of the fight game, for instance, Buddy is frank regarding his son.
“Dusty’s not in it to make all this big money,” he claims. “He’s in it really to just be happy.”
Truly? Even in this Al Haymon age of stage-managed easy touches for big money?
“If he earns a living,” Buddy states, “the kid’s happy.”
The visit to Madison Square Garden next week won’t be the first for the younger Harrison. Then again, the Garden won’t be foreign territory for Harrison’s opponent, either. For the slick stylist Ronny Rainone is a tried and true New Yorker.
Yet I noticed during Harrison’s last outing against Michael Clark that the fighter’s range was quite impressive – something I hadn’t detected during Harrison’s previous bouts.
“It’s something I wanted to get back,” he tells me. “Being six foot tall it’s really important.”
Yet anyone who’s watched Rainone knows that he’s quite proficient finding range himself. The man has a way of floating in and out of the danger zone without facing consequences. Harrison, however, doesn’t come across as perturbed.
“I feel that my youth will come into play,” he states, making it clear he doesn’t intend to “make it comfortable for him (Rainone)” during the fight.
As enjoyable as it may be to talk to the father and son Harrison team, serious opportunities call for serious questions.
Harrison is a welterweight. I therefore asked Buddy if he’s concerned the Roc Nation connection could hurt his son’s chances of facing Al Haymon’s fighters in the future (Haymon and Jay Z are rumored to be at odds).
“No,” the older Harrison states adamantly, “not at all.”
Then what about Dusty’s recent comment that Roc Nation puts him in good positions outside of the fight game?
“Boxing is not just about inside the ring,” the younger Harrison explains. Roc Nation, he continues, can “connect you with a whole new world,” such as famous athletes, musicians and other celebrities.
Being given such connections can obviously help a young man trying to make his way in the world.
“I think they (the people at Roc Nation) can do that better than anybody,” he tells me.
With boxing becoming such a bitter business as of late, one loaded with cynicism and rampant self-interest, it is a pleasure not only to watch Dusty Hernandez Harrison fight, but also to observe the man and his father enjoying the ride.
If only there were more of that these days. After all, the ride is always one punch away from ending. Or, in some cases, of picking up speed.
Hernandez and his father would obviously prefer the latter.
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