Next month, Dusty Hernandez-Harrison will begin taking classes at UDC as a college student. The 18-year-old boxer used Saturday’s professional welterweight bout on his future campus to deliver a riveting introduction, registering a fifth-round knockout of Eddie Soto to remain undefeated in his short professional career.
“Maybe now somebody here will know me and I can copy off somebody’s homework,” Hernandez-Harrison joked after recording his 15th win and ninth knockout.
The crowd at UDC’s Sports Complex was plenty familiar with Hernandez-Harrison, a D.C. native, and it showed as fans chanted his name and lauded his every move during the anticipated main event.
The 145-pounder showed patience throughout much of the fight, allowing Soto, who is nearly twice his age, to be the aggressor while Hernandez-Harrison stuck several left jabs in the first two rounds.
After seeing a slight opening midway through the second round, Hernandez-Harrison threw a wide, right-handed punch that caught Soto off-guard and briefly sent the challenger to the canvas.
As the crowd went wild, Hernandez-Harrison shot a sly wink to Soto, who brandished a wide smile as he took a three-second break to compose himself.
“After the first knockdown, I knew I could do it again, but I had to be patient because he wasn’t as tired yet,” said Hernandez-Harrison, his face devoid of any damage. “After that, every shot started affecting him more than it did in the first round, so I knew it was time.”
Soto’s fatigue — and his tendency to keep his elbows low — led Hernandez-Harrison to turn from his initial strategy of working the body. Instead, he continued to rely on his jab, throwing in a few one-two combos to keep the aggressive Soto at bay.
With chants of “DUS-TY, DUS-TY” coming from a crowd that included rapper Wale, Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson and Washington Redskins wideout Pierre Garcon, Hernandez-Harrison quickly gained steam in the fifth round.
After landing two right-handed shots to a red-faced Soto (12-7), Hernandez-Harrison followed through with a strong left hook to his opponent’s head. As Soto retreated back to the right side of the ring, Hernandez-Harrison came forward with a wide, right-handed punch, dropping Soto to the ground. Soto tried getting up but stumbled back to the canvas, leading the ref to call the fight at the 2-minute 48-second mark of the fifth round.
“Next time in a fight like this, I might test the body more like I had planned, but the jab was landing and it felt good and wore him down,” Hernandez-Harrison said. “I just want to continue improving on my career. I’m only 18, and so far I think I’ve shown way more than what would be expected from an 18-year-old professional boxer.”