Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Hernandez-Harrison-Dallas Jr.: Should There Be A Rematch?

The recent battle between undefeated prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison and veteran contender Mike Dallas Jr. was a fight that could best be described as both a development fight as well as a crossroads fight. For Hernandez-Harrison, it was another test in a thus far unbeaten career as he has previously held the WBC Continental Americas Welterweight championship in his career, but has yet to get an opportunity against opposition that could lead to a world title shot if he were successful.

For Dallas, this was the third fight in his comeback after suffering a first round knockout loss at the hands of Lucas Matthysse in January 2013. With two victories under his belt since returning to the ring in November of last year, this was a bout that could reestablish Dallas as a contender against an undefeated prospect in Dusty Hernandez-Harrison. While a loss one might argue could have put his career in jeopardy.

The compelling battle between the two took place on May 13th at the DC Armory in Washington, D.C. Although Dallas had been successful in his previous two fights in his comeback against Alejandro Alonso and Odilon Rivera, this was clearly a step up in the class of opposition for Dallas as both fighters had a combined record of 7-38-6. Even though it is not unusual for fighters who are attempting a comeback to be matched against relatively unknown and/or undistinguished opposition early on in their comeback, one may well have been justified to wonder if Dallas, who entered the fight with a record of 21-3-1, with 10 Knockouts was ready to step up against a fighter like Dusty Hernandez-Harrison, who entered with a record of 29-0, with 16 Knockouts after suffering the knockout loss at the hands of Matthysse, who was Dallas’ toughest test to date.

It interested this observer to see whether or not Hernandez-Harrison will attempt to put pressure on Dallas Jr. from the outset. Even though it may have been logical to assume based on what happened to Dallas against Matthysse to expect Hernandez-Harrison to look for an opening and test Dallas’ ability to take a punch, the opposite happened as Dallas established a well-balanced attack to the body and head of Hernandez-Harrison in the opening round.

Although Dallas had difficulty landing cleanly on Hernandez-Harrison due to Hernandez-Harrison’s solid defense, it was the volume of his offense and ability to use angles that dictated how the fight was fought. It was Dallas’ hand speed, angles, and ability to control distance and make Hernandez-Harrison miss that I felt carried the fight for the first five rounds including Dallas scoring a knockdown of Hernandez-Harrison with a flush left hook in the closing seconds of round five.

This clearly turned out to be the toughest test in the career of Dusty Hernandez-Harrison thus far. What also impressed me about Dallas’ performance was not just his ability to throw punches in combination and keep Hernandez-Harrison largely on the defensive, but also the way he managed the clock in each round and did not waste much energy even though he was the aggressor.

As the ten round bout entered its second half I felt that Hernandez-Harrison may well have lost every round on the official scorecards as I had given Dallas every round entering round six on my unofficial scorecard. An element of controversy would surface in the eighth round when Dallas would go down seemingly from being hit below the belt, but it was ruled a knockdown by Referee Malik Waleed. This followed an incident in the seventh round where Waleed had called for the fighters to break only to have Hernandez-Harrison hit Dallas after Waleed had called for the fighters to separate.

The controversy notwithstanding it was clear in my eyes that Hernandez-Harrison was behind as this fight entered the late rounds. Although Dallas appeared to be suffering from the effects of fatigue in rounds eight through ten and thus Hernandez-Harrison was able to step up his pace and win those rounds including the questionable knockdown in the eighth round, I felt Dallas did enough to win as I had it scored 7-3 in rounds or 97-93 in points in his favor.

Even though I felt that this was a clear win for Mike Dallas Jr. based largely how effective he was with his combination punching and lateral movement, it did not surprise me to see differing official scorecards. Judge Paul Wallace scored the fight 96-92 in favor of Dallas, Judge Tammye Jenkins scored the fight 95-94 in favor of Hernandez-Harrison, and Judge Wayne Smith scored the fight even 94-94 resulting in the fight being declared a split decision draw.

Although this fight took place in Hernandez-Harrison’s hometown of Washington, D.C., and that alone may tempt some Boxing fans to call this decision a “Hometown decision”, this observer will not make that statement. Even though I thought Mike Dallas Jr. won this fight convincingly, it is important to remember that sometimes there will be differing opinions as to how a fight is scored among fans, experts, and most importantly the three official judges who are tasked with scoring a fight.

As longtime readers know it is not uncommon to hear this observer go through an explanation of the criteria in which Professional Boxing is scored and will state that often when it comes to close fights it will boil down to what a judge prefers in their own individual criteria in how they score based on clean punching, effective aggressiveness, ring generalship, and defense. Although I do not feel that this was a close fight, it is important to remember that not all of Mike Dallas’ offense connected cleanly on Hernandez-Harrison throughout much of the fight due to Hernandez-Harrison’s solid defense.

Even though I scored based on Dallas’ aggression, combination punching, and ability to keep Hernandez-Harrison on the defensive and thus not being able to be as frequent with his offense, it is not out of the realm of possibility that perhaps two of three official judges in this fight scored not only based on Hernandez-Harrison’s defense, but also the sporadic success he was able to have offensively, which did land cleanly when he was able to let his hands go. As someone who has seen and covered thousands of fights and who has seen more than his share of questionable decisions over the years, the decision of a draw in this fight was not the worst decision that I have ever seen.

Rather than focusing on what some may call controversy, the most interesting question coming out of this fight in my mind is whether or not we will see a rematch between Dusty Hernandez-Harrison and Mike Dallas Jr.? In the long run the outcome in this fight may serve Hernandez-Harrison well in his continuing development as he looks to progress his career as a potential world title challenger down the line. For Mike Dallas Jr., who has suffered some notable setbacks in his career his performance against Hernandez-Harrison should be viewed as a positive even though he did not walk away from this fight with a victory.

What Dallas does walk away with however, is a legitimate argument for a rematch after providing a young unbeaten prospect with his most significant test to date. This observer believes a rematch between the two would be the best option for both fighters. Whether or not a rematch between the two takes place in the near future remains to be seen.

“And That’s the Boxing Truth.”

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