Dusty Hernandez-Harrison wants to bring boxing back to the District. But the undefeated boxer plans to do so with a twist — by becoming a promoter.
Rather than fighting in his hometown, Hernandez-Harrison is now the one staging the fights. Next month, Harrison will help oversee his second professional event when the series “Beltway Battles” takes place May 28 at the Entertainment & Sports Arena, the Southeast home of the Washington Mystics. The 12-bout card — headlined by super lightweights Greg Outlaw Jr. and Anthony Peterson in separate fights — is the second of four boxing showcases set to take place at the arena over the next year.
Once a top-ranked welterweight prospect, the 27-year-old hopes the series will provide at least two opportunities to fighters: The chance to be active and the chance to fight in the District.
“All my opportunities in boxing came from being local, being able to grow my fanbase and do everything,” said Hernandez-Harrison, who sports a 34-0-1 record. “I’m providing that opportunity for everyone else.”
Hernandez-Harrison would know about inactivity. His last fight came in 2020 when he recorded a second-round knockout over Les Sherrington. Beyond his two-year absence, Hernandez-Harrison also went almost three years without fighting from 2016 to 2019 because of a variety of issues. He hasn’t shut the door on his own ring return completely but said he needs to lose a lot of weight — about 65 pounds, he said — first.
In the meantime, Hernandez-Harrison has shifted his attention to promoting. Almost every boxer on the card Harrison says he knows personally, many of them just starting their careers. He said he’s trying to help line up sponsorships and media interviews in order to build their fanbases.
But Hernandez-Harrison’s promotional career, under the banner “DHH Promotions,” is just starting. So he’s teamed up with Thomas LaManna of New Jersey-based Rising Star Promotions and Mike Walters of TCMFB Boxing to help with the Beltway series. Because of the newness, details are being worked through.
With a little more than a month to go, for instance, Outlaw said he still didn’t know who he was fighting for the main event. Most matchups weren’t listed on a bout sheet handed out to reporters at a Wednesday press conference, though Hernandez-Harrison said many of the fights are in the process of being finalized.
Still, Hernandez-Harrison sees an opportunity for boxing to become more prominent in the District. The DMV area has a long history of producing world-class fighters — from Sugar Ray Leonard to others like Mark Johnson, Winky Wright, Lamont Peterson and Gary Russell. But actual events around the area have been few and far between over the last few years, with bigger cards happening at a nearby casino in Oxon Hill, Maryland.
John Falcichio, the District’s deputy mayor for planning and economic development, said during Wednesday’s press conference that the series is a chance to “revive” the city’s boxing tradition.
“D.C. has a rich history of sports, we like to call ourselves the ‘Sports Capital,’” Falcichio said, “in addition to the ‘District of Champions’ … We want to make sure we’re here to support it.”
Keith Holmes, a former middleweight titlist from the District, said the series could go a long way to helping boxers fight consistently — something that he said was vital for his career. Before Holmes got his first title shot in 1996, Holmes fought 12 times in the prior two years. Such activity would be almost unheard of nowadays.
“That’s what D.C. needs,” Holmes said. “D.C. needs to be active in this sport. These fighters need to fight. They need to stay busy. … I hope everyone keeps this thing going.”
Hernandez-Harrison said that his goal is to grow the “Beltway Battles” to at least six events annually — maybe even monthly, if the demand is there. The first card took place last October and drew about 1,700 fans in a venue of 4,200.
“I’m a fighter and I know what it’s like,” Hernandez-Harrison said. “I can go to sleep peacefully at night knowing I tried to help these people.”