By Paul “Paparazzi“ Jones | Photo © Paul “Paparazzi” Jones/ESB
Washington, DC — Twenty-one year old prospect Dusty Hernández-Harrison(29-0-1, 16 KOs) and Mike “The Silent Assassin” Dallas Jr. (21-3-2, 10 KOs), 29, headlined ROC Nation Sports’ Throne Boxing card on Friday night, squaring off in a 10-round welterweight bout at the DC Armory in Washington, DC.
Though action-packed, the bout ended in a split decision draw that surprised many in attendance when the final scorecards were read: 95-94 (Hernández-Harrison), 92-96 (Dallas Jr.), and 94-94 (even).
For Hernández-Harrison, who was largely untested to this point, the fight was supposed to be against a credible threat. In fact, despite 29 victories and an unblemished record, Hernández-Harrison’s level of competition and his progress toward becoming an elite welterweight were questioned bymembers of the boxing cognoscenti.
For instance, during a 2014 Friday Night Fights telecast, ESPN commentator and trainer, Teddy Atlas, provided scathing on-air critiques of Hernández-Harrison during his bout against unheralded Michael Balasi(10-7, 7 KOs) — a fight Hernández-Harrison won by a wide unanimous decision. Among Atlas’s soundbites was this comment after Hernández-Harrison sustained a2nd round knockdown:
“When you fight a lot of soft competition, as[Hernández-Harrison] has been fed, you’re not ready for a moment like this.”
Enter Mike Dallas Jr., a battle-tested Bakersfield, California-native who came into this bout riding back-to-back TKO wins (albeit against limited competition). In addition, Dallas Jr. had only suffered losses to three recognizable fighters: Lucas Matthysse (KO 1), Mauricio Herrera (MD 10), and Josesito Lopez (KO 7).Therefore, Dallas Jr. was the perfect litmus test for Hernández-Harrison, providing a golden opportunity for the DC-based fighter to showcase his skills and silence many of his critics.
Thankfully, both fighters were up for the challenge.
From the opening bell, Dallas Jr. made his presence felt by sitting down on his punches, landing heavy shots to the head and torso of Hernández-Harrison, while Hernández-Harrison seemed befuddled by Dallas Jr.’s speed and aggression.
“I started kind of slow,” said Hernández-Harrison. “I didn’t do enough at the beginning.”
Indeed, it was Dallas Jr.’s precise punching and volume that helped him build an early lead on all three scorecards.
Hernández-Harrison showed toughness in battling back over rounds three and four, but he was caught in the 5thround by a well-timed combination from Dallas Jr that led to the bout’s first knockdown.
Hernández-Harrison recovered quickly, however, and both fighters went nip-and-tuck over the next three rounds.
Hernández-Harrison returned the favorto Dallas Jr. in the 8thround, scoring what looked to be a questionable knockdown courtesy of a borderline shot to Dallas Jr.’s beltline that dropped him to a knee.
Nevertheless, referee Malik Waleed ruled it as a knockdown.
Regardless of its legality, the knockdown appeared to take something out of Dallas Jr. over the remainder of the fight.
“When he hit me low, twice, I couldn’t feel my legs in the last two rounds. I’m not gonna [sic] even lie,” said Dallas Jr.“I was moving, but he hit me low, up under the cup.”
Conversely, the knockdown appeared to rejuvenate Hernández-Harrison who controlled the action thereafter with his pressure and effective aggression. “I thought that I finished really strong and I’m a 12-round fighter,” Hernández-Harrison said. “I think I showed that, especially with the way that I finished the fight.”
Hernández-Harrison also fed off of the crowd’s energy at key points during the championship rounds when they chanted: “Dusty! Dusty! Dusty!”
Nevertheless, the bout ended in a split draw that left more questions than answers.
For Hernández-Harrison, despite showing resilience and toughness, it’s unlikely that his critics were persuaded by his performance. But the DC-based fighter isn’t too concerned about that.
“I felt like could have got the nod,” said Hernández-Harrison. “Whatever. I’m just happy it was a good fight. It sounds weird, but I don’t care about a decision. I fight, that’s what I do. I just like to fight.”
For Dallas Jr., it was poor refereeing and an insurmountable hometown advantage that cost him the fight.
“[Hernández-Harrison] hit me behind the head, [on] the back, elbows, everything. [The referee] wasn’t calling sh**,” said Dallas Jr. “I won the fight, clearly. [Hernández-Harrison] was alright, but he wasn’t active enough. I was hitting him 8-to-1 and he wasn’t throwing nopunches. It was easy. I could just touch him, use my speed, and not take any chances.”
But don’t expect a rematch. Whereas Hernández-Harrison was open to it, Dallas Jr. isn’t interested. “It is what it is,” said Dallas Jr. “It’s his hometown. That’s why I won’t never [sic] do it again, man.”
For what it’s worth, there was also disagreement in press row about the scorecards. For instance, Gene Wang of The Washington Post and ESPN’s Dan Rafael scored the bout a draw, while Gary “Digital” Williams and Juan Marshall of Boxing Along the Beltway, Chip Mitchell of TheFightJournal.com, and yours truly had Dallas Jr. winning by a close points decision.
With the draw, Hernández-Harrison moves to 29and 0, with 1 draw and 16 knockouts. Dallas Jr. moves to 21 wins and 3 losses, with 2 draws.■
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