By: Rich Quiñones
Saturday night Dusty Hernandez-Harrison will look to continue his fast rise up the welterweight ranks when he tangles with Wilfredo Acuna in a slated eight-round affair for the WBC Youth Silver welterweight title on the undercard of the Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Geale WBA, IBO middleweight title bout at famed MSG in New York.
Harrison, who is just 20-years-old, sports an impressive 22-0 mark with 12 Ko’s, while the unheralded Acuna has dropped seven of his last eight and sports a modest 15-14 record with 12 Ko’s.
However, Harrison is well aware that future opponents will be looking to dethrone him and he knows he will have to get off to a quick start in this one. Setting the tone early for a bout is something that he put more time into doing this training camp.
He will look to take that plan of attack as well as his best assets, his preparation into a fight, against Acuna.
“I feel real good, training is going well and I got in some good sparring. I think my best thing is that I am always mentally prepared to go into a fight,” Harrison said exclusively to On “Q” Sports earlier this week.
Along with being prepared, Harrison is a throw back of sorts, because he studies each and every one of his opponents.
Most young boxers might leave that up to their team, but Harrison likes that approach and has his own analysis regarding Acuna.
“I watched his last fight and highlights of his fights against (Chris) Algieri,” he said.
“He kind of reminds me of (Ricardo) Mayorga, and he is a southpaw and has some power. The plan is to outbox him.”
There are many to quickly question the level of opponents that Harrison has faced up to this point in his young career. He last bout was against the well traveled 41-year-old Mexican Roberto Valenzuela, who entered their May 17th affair having dropped seven of his last 12 contests.
Harrison dispatched him in the fourth round, scoring the knockout and sending Valenzuela (69-67-2) to the canvas for the 35th time in his journeyman career.
More questions were being asked then answered.
However, one the thing that has gone unnoticed is how Harrison handles adversity in the ring, something that should not be overlooked.
Prior to dismantling Valenzuela, Harrison was tested against relatively unknown club fighter Mike Balasi, who caught Harrison with a solid left hook that stunned him and floored him in the second round of their slated six-round bout back on March 3rd at the Pala Casino Spa and Resort in Pala, California.
The bout was televised on ESPN, which put more of a spotlight on Harrison.
To his credit, Harrison bounced back from that knockdown and quickly scored one of his own against the gritty Balasi in the same round.
Harrison floored him again in the fifth with a flurry of sharp right body shots en route to a six-round unanimous decision and in the process learned how to pick himself back up off the mat on the national stage.
It was just the second time in his career that he was knockdown — the first coming against Marqus Jackson — in his eighth pro fight.
“I learned a lot, it is good to get up from that and then I put him down, I can’t be to relaxed at the beginning of the fight. I have been working on that in the gym. My defense was not great in that fight. I think it was because of the knockdown, but I have to stay focused right from the opening bell,” he added.
Several bouts before Balasi, Harrison fought Josh Torres for the then vacant WBC Youth Silver welterweight title at MSG last November.
That bout was a solid test for him, and he got caught several times in that one against a talented and game boxer in Torres.
Once again, he stood his ground as he came out strong early on in that fight. The contest was tightly contested and Harrison was able to hold his own on the inside.
In a fight that had distance stamped all over it, Harrison started quickly, Torres rallied and Harrison fought him off late, getting stronger and showing grit and maturity in the process en route to the unanimous win.
It was a tough fight, but a very impressive win for him.
“Yeah, I still think that was my toughest fight yet, Torres is a good guy, we still keep in touch,” Harrison said.
With such a stellar amateur background that saw close to 200 fights, Harrison has been able to make the transition to the pro’s easier then some.
“In the amateurs I fought in a lot of national tournaments, all over the country, sometimes I fought guys from other countries. So there were so many styles that it really helped me having all those fights.”
He also understands that the key to a young boxer’s growth and career is consistency and he is not shy talking about how active he would like to be going forward.
“One every month if it was up to me, but at least three or four more I hope to close out the year.”
No matter what happens Saturday night, there will still be those that question his every move. It is a fair point when you have such a young boxer, who is filled with talent and promise.
Maybe those that watch him closely want to see in their eyes a tested or more proven opponent for him.
Boxing is a funny sport, because perhaps there are some fighters out there who do not want to get in the ring with him at this point in their career, perhaps nothing to gain and everything to lose.
One thing is for sure, Harrison has been an easy target on social media to many “so called” boxing experts.
But just like he did in his fight against Torres, Harrison just goes about his business and keeps his poise when pressed on the issue of whether or not the criticism bothers him.
“One of my best attributes is being mentally prepared going into a fight. I don’t pay attention to any of it, even if I see it, it doesn’t bother me.”
Saturday night, Acuna will try to do something 22 opponents before him have not. Beat the upstart Harrison.
As for Harrison it is simple. He will fight his fight inside the ring and if you still want to bash him afterwards, go ahead he doesn’t care.
“A lot of times I see people say I need to step up in fights. It is not like I have not tried to step up with opponents. So I really do not even pay any mind to it. It doesn’t bother me. I know what I need to do,” he concluded.
Rich Quiñones is an award winning broadcaster and journalist. He is the lead blow-by-blow Boxing voice for GFL.tv and Go Fight Live’s Boxing on Comcast. He has sat ringside calling the action with Monte Barrett, Brian Adams, Amir Mansour, Danny Garcia, James Kirkland, Mark Breland, Ronnie Shields, Teddy Atlas and Lou DiBella, while broadcasting over 125 bouts for GFL in 2013-2014.
Rich is also a contributor to Ringnews24.com and he has also handled calling the action for Muay Thai and is exclusive lead blow-by-blow voice for CFFC MMA.
You can follow Rich on twitter @ https://twitter.com/RichQonQ and Tumblr.com @ http://onqsports.tumblr.com as well as LinkedIn and instagram.com/richqonq. Subscribe and follow his youtube page https://plus.google.com/u/0/106138376864900587745/posts