- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
He’s going for number 21 with an entire support system around him.
Welterweight boxing sensation Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, a Thomas Stone High School graduate and Washington, D.C., resident, will be back in the ring March 7, just five weeks after his ESPN2 Friday Night Fights debut, as he will challenge Hawaiian southpaw Michael Balasi.
The bout is scheduled for eight rounds and will be aired live on ESPN Friday Night Fights from the Pala Casino Spa Resort in San Diego, Calif.
“I am happy to be fighting on ESPN again so soon,” the 19-year-old Hernandez-Harrison said. “I have many relatives in San Diego that never had the chance to see me fight live. I hope I do well. I am not sure how long it will be before I fight on the West Coast again.”
In that Friday Night Fights debut, Hernandez-Harrison won an eight-round unanimous decision against Tim Witherspoon, Jr. on Jan. 31 at the Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange, N.J. All three judges scored the bout 78-74 in favor of Hernandez-Harrison, improving his professional record to 20-0 with 11 knockouts.
Hernandez-Harrison, who’s ranked 19th by the WBC, is trained by his father Buddy Harrison.
“His condition was remarkable,” Buddy Harrison said. “We sat down and watched the Witherspoon fight together, and we are very happy with Dusty’s performance. I asked him at the end of the fight how he felt. He responded with ‘I could have gone 15 rounds.’”
Balasi, 33, who turned pro in 2001, has lost his past two fights. He has not fought since Nov. 22, when he lost a second-round technical knockout to Giovanni Santillan.
The Hernandez-Harrison camp — which also includes All-IN Entertainment co-founders Jeff Fried, world-known poker player Phil Ivey and Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis — is taking this fight very seriously.
“Training has been great,” Buddy Harrison said. “We have hired professional boxer Sammie Milhouse for sparring who is also a southpaw.”
The reason for the seriousness is because 70 percent of Balasi’s wins were by knockouts. He is 10-3 with seven knockouts.
“He will be one of Dusty’s toughest fights, yet Dusty is extremely happy to be fighting again on ESPN,” Buddy Harrison said. “Not only do all his friends in Washington, D.C., get to see, but he has many family members in California that will be there in person. If all goes well, Dusty will be back at Madison Square Garden in April and then back home in Washington, D.C., this June.”
Hernandez-Harrison is surrounding himself with elite businessmen who know how to win mentally as well as physically.
Ivey, a nine-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner, won the 2014 Aussie Millions Boutique $250,000 challenge and $3.5 million in prize money Feb. 11. In a recent press release, he said he plans to be at ringside to support Hernandez-Harrison.
“I am pleased to win such a prestigious event against the best competition in the world,” Ivey said in the press release. “Now it’s time for my guy Dusty to bring home another win for our All-In family on March 7th.”
Reed also a main attraction
For boxing fans not making the trip to California to see Hernandez-Harrison, another Charles County graduate will be boxing locally March 7.
At Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, 21-year-old welterweight professional Michael “Yes Indeed” Reed (7-0, 5 KOs), a Westlake High School graduate, will take on Bilal Manasin (4-0) of Oakland, Calif., in a scheduled six-round matchup. Keystone Boxing has lined up the headliner just a few weeks after Reed’s fifth-round TKO against Jorge Marquez of Phoenix. That fight was stopped after Marquez suffered a perforated eardrum.
Reed trains at Dream Team Boxing gym in Clinton, which is owned and operated by Reed’s father and trainer Michael “Buck” Pinson.
Pinson and Reed said in a press release this week that they have prepared a good game plan for this matchup.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” Reed said in the press release. “It is important for my ring experience to fight quality opposition like Mahasin. I’m working really hard in camp and plan to leave a good impression on everyone that comes to see me fight. Thank you to promoter Gene Molovinsky and matchmaker Ross Molovinsky of Keystone Boxing for allowing me to headline their show once again.”