Anything but ordinary is what’s potentially in store for Hernandez-Harrison (31-0-1, 17 knockouts), regardless of the outcome, not long after his inaugural fight in Maryland and his first in the Washington metropolitan area in nearly three years.
Facing weapons charges stemming from an investigation by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Hernandez-Harrison is set to enter a plea deal early next week in which he has agreed to serve up to 18 months in federal prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for two to three months after that, Hernandez-Harrison said.
“The judge, of course he could give me more, but he can give me less as well,” he said. “I just want to fight and show them that look, I do have positive things going. This was kind of a rough time for me. I wasn’t boxing. I lost the main direction in my life.
“The most consistent thing that I’ve had in my life since I was born, honestly, I lost it for two and a half years.”
The longest and most emotionally taxing layoff of Hernandez-Harrison’s professional career began on the heels of his victory via 10-round unanimous decision over Thomas LaManna on Sept. 15, 2016, at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia. The next month, the International Boxing Federation ranked Hernandez-Harrison among the top 15 welterweights in the world.
But earlier that year, he and his father went through what both described as a mutual estrangement.
Harrison didn’t always approve of his son’s choices, whether inside or outside the ring, and let him know as much. Hernandez-Harrison, in turn, had grown increasingly agitated with the family patriarch.
The disagreements led to frequent verbal sparring and ultimately to them not speaking for months at a time.
Hernandez-Harrison began training at another gym, but his then-promotional team, Roc Nation Sports, failed to line up fights, according to Hernandez-Harrison. The dearth of in-ring activity led Hernandez-Harrison to question the value of training for bouts that weren’t happening.
Soon he stopped working out completely, eating as he pleased, and his weight escalated to the point Hernandez-Harrison would get winded performing activities typically requiring only modest physical exertion.
“He literally in that layoff ballooned up to 200 pounds,” Harrison said. “A lot of people don’t know that, but he reached the 200-pound limit.”
That would have mandated Hernandez-Harrison fight at heavyweight after he had spent the majority of his career at 147 pounds.
The professional downturn coincided with the fatal shooting of one of his closest friends, Aujee “Quick” Tyler, in March 2018. Tyler, 22, had been a boxer of some renown, too, having won several amateur titles. He trained at Old School as well as Headbangers, the home gym of former world champion Lamont Peterson.
With no source of steady income, Hernandez-Harrison eventually lost the five-bedroom, three-bathroom house he had purchased in Accokeek, also the hometown of Jarrett Hurd, the unified champion at 154 pounds.
Hernandez-Harrison moved back to the apartment he owns in Naylor Gardens in Southeast Washington, deciding he needed to resume his career in earnest after growing weary of feeling unhealthy just about every day since he allowed himself to get so badly out of shape.
Most important, Hernandez-Harrison reconciled with his father, a former boxer who served prison time for armed robbery.
“I’ve seen the difference,” Harrison said. “We can live to be 200 and continue to mature and get smarter in life. He’s there. Now he doesn’t skip any gym days. Obviously he’s watching what he’s eating. He’s in the 160s right now.”
Hernandez-Harrison mutually parted ways with Roc Nation in June 2018 and signed with Toronto-based Lee Baxter Promotions in December. Hernandez-Harrison and Baxter, whose stable of fighters includes welterweight champion Samuel Vargas, were friends well before they began a working relationship.
Finally, Hernandez-Harrison was back in the ring again on March 30, soundly defeating journeyman Bruce Rumbolz via knockout in New Albany, Ind. Two left hooks ended the scheduled six-rounder at 1:46 in Round 1, giving Hernandez-Harrison his first knockout since Sept. 26, 2015.
Hernandez-Harrison is not making any knockout predictions for his matchup with Jenkins (10-5, three KOs), whose father is a celebrated trainer in Philadelphia. Jenkins has lost four of his past five fights, all by unanimous decision, including most recently to Isaiah Wise on Sept. 8, 2017.
Saturday’s bout will take place at a catch weight of 163 pounds and headlines the first fight card in the history of Rosecroft Raceway. KBW Promotions, under the direction of longtime District lawyer Ken Weckstein, is promoting the card, which includes multiple local fighters.
None has as much at stake as Hernandez-Harrison, whose aspirations beyond this weekend include securing a world title shot that had eluded him before this comeback, and, if he’s fortunate enough, staying out of jail.
“I have no room to get into any trouble,” Hernandez-Harrison said. “I have no room to miss training because I have to fight. I have no room for it at all. Sometimes when people are like that, it makes them feel overwhelmed, but I just had like two and a half years of freedom, and I didn’t like it.”