New York, NY (1/21/14) - Undefeated teenage welterweight phenom Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (19-0, 11KO's), a fan favorite in his hometown of Washington D.C., has been tabbed to open a rare triple-header on ESPN Friday Night Fights, presented by Corona Extra, on January 31. The 19-year-old sensation is hoping to take advantage of this opportunity and show a nationwide audience that he is establishing his place as a top prospect in the welterweight division and a future world champion. He will be facing Tim Witherspoon Jr., 10-3-1 (2 KOs), the son of the former heavyweight champion, in an eight-round welterweight contest. The card, hosted by DiBella Entertainment, in association with GH3 Promotions and Greg Cohen Promotions, will be staged at the Richard J. Codey Arena, in West Orange, NJ, on the eve of Super Bowl weekend.
Headlining the show will be light heavyweight contender Blake Caparello in a 10-round bout against the always-exciting Elvir Muriqi. Junior featherweights Luis Rosa and Jorge Diaz meet in the eight-round co-feature, which is guaranteed to be a barnburner.
ESPN will begin live coverage at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN2, broadband Spanish-language ESPN Deportes+ and WatchESPN.
Speaking about this event, Dusty's promoter, Jeff Fried, of All In Entertainment, said, "Working with quality promoters like DiBella Entertainment, Greg Cohen Promotions and GH3 makes the business side of boxing both productive and enjoyable."
Given the arena's proximity to the Super Bowl, Hernandez-Harrison is expecting the card to have a tremendous vibe.
"With the Super Bowl taking place 15 miles from the venue, and everything involved with Super Bowl weekend, the fight night atmosphere should be amazing," said an enthusiastic Hernandez-Harrison. "I can't wait to perform in that kind of environment."
Since turning pro in June 2011, Harrison, 19-0 (11 KOs), has fought at a busy pace. Over the ensuing two years, Harrison has managed to fight an extraordinary eight times in both 2012 and 2013. To start off 2013, Harrison picked up the Delaware welterweight title with a third-round knockout over Kelly Wright on February 8, at the Chase Center, in Wilmington, DE.
"I am working hard in the gym and focused on January 31," said Hernandez-Harrison. "I know lots of my fans are making the drive from Washington, DC. I am excited and want to also put on a great performance for all the fans that will be tuning into ESPN2 that evening."
Dusty's father Buddy added, "Dusty has a huge following in our hometown of Washington, DC. After the fans around the nation get to watch him on ESPN he'll have an even bigger following."
Trained by his father, Buddy Harrison, Dusty first fought in an amateur exhibition at the age of six. Soon after, he was winning regional titles and championship medals, including the National Silver Gloves Championships, National Golden Gloves Championships and the Ringside World Championships. After competing in a total of 197 amateur bouts, accumulating a 167-30 record, Dusty decided it was time to turn pro. When he did so at the age of 17, he became the youngest licensed professional fighter in the United States.
Dusty realized a childhood dream when he fought at Madison Square Garden in New York, on November 2, 2013. Moving up to the next phase of his career, in what was his first bout scheduled for 10 rounds, Hernandez-Harrison faced the 12-2 Josh Torres, with the WBC Youth welterweight title at stake. After dominating his foe over the distance, Hernanez-Harrison won by scores of 100-90, and 98-92 twice.
Buddy, very proud of his son, said, "I told Dusty nearly 10 years ago in that very arena that if he worked hard and did the right things, he could one day win a title at Madison Square Garden. [With the win], we made that dream a reality as we continue our mission."
That mission continues in what will be Hernandez-Harrison's first exposure on national television. Facing him in the ESPN Friday Night Fights opening bout will be Tim Witherspoon Jr. Having lost his pro debut, Witherspoon returned to the ring three years later and has impressively won 10 bouts, while losing just twice in very close decisions.
"Witherspoon is a very slick boxer and we will be ready," said Buddy. "I am impressed with how hard Dusty is training for this fight. We've brought in some great sparring for him and he's training like a world champion."
Fried is happy with Dusty's progression thus far and what lies ahead on January 31. "This is a nice next step in Dusty's career," said Fried. "Dusty's work ethic is a true distinguishing factor in his drive to be a marquee World Champion."
Fried continued, "This should be an extraordinary ESPN Friday Nights Fights opening up with Dusty and as part of a historic weekend in New Jersey/New York. We will have many of our business partners and clients in the sports and entertainment industries sitting Ringside and as a continuation of their overall Super Bowl weekend entertainment."
A complete list of bouts, which will feature a number of top prospects and local talent, will be announced shortly.