WASHINGTON -- Leading up to his fight with Michael Dallas Jr. on Friday night, welterweight prospect Dusty Hernandez-Harrison trained as one of middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez's main sparring partners. But the work didn't quite pay off. Hernandez-Harrison and Dallas fought to a split draw in the main event of Roc Nation Sports' BET-televised "throne boxing" card at the DC Armory.
Hernandez-Harrison, fighting before a hometown crowd of 2,663, his first fight in Washington since 2014, and Dallas exchanged knockdowns in a fast-paced, exciting fight that was close all the way. Dallas dropped Hernandez-Harrison in the fifth round, and he returned the favor, albeit in controversial fashion, in the eighth round.
In the end, one judge scored the fight 95-94 for Hernandez-Harrison, another had it 96-92 for Dallas and the third scored it 94-94. ESPN.com also had the fight 94-94.
"I thought I finished it great," Hernandez-Harrison said. "I finished it way too strong with that knockdown [not to get the decision]. I feel I pulled it out with that late knockdown."
Said Dallas: "In my opinion, we won in his hometown convincingly."
Hernandez-Harrison, 21, taking on his most notable opponent, spent five weeks at Alvarez's training camp in San Diego and sparred about 50 rounds with him as he was preparing to defend his title against Amir Khan last week in Las Vegas. Hernandez-Harrison, of course, was preparing for Dallas, who embraced the idea of fighting Hernandez-Harrison in his hometown, where he almost pulled off the upset.
Hernandez-Harrison was working with trainer Barry Hunter, one of boxing's best, for the first time, and Hunter was not too happy with his fighter's performance.
"We didn't really capitalize on the right moments," Hunter said. "Dusty needed to jab more. That would have taken the fight. If it wasn't for that early knockdown, we would have won."
By the fourth round, Hernandez-Harrison's face was showing marks from Dallas' flurry of punches.
They traded back-and-forth punches in an exciting fifth round, but Dallas landed a right hand followed by a short left that knocked down Hernandez-Harrison with about 30 seconds to go, stunning the crowd.
In the eighth round, Hernandez-Harrison (29-0-1, 16 KOs) dropped Dallas (21-3-2, 10 KOs), 29, of Bakersfield, California, with a left hand that appeared to be below the belt. Dallas complained that it was a low blow to referee Malik Waleed, but Waleed began counting. Dallas quickly got to his feet, although he was clearly upset by the call.
"The ref didn't call [the low blow]," Dallas said. "I guess it was a hometown thing. I thought I won the fight."
The 10th round was action-packed; both fighters seemed to believe the bout was hanging in the balance. They emptied their tanks in fierce exchanges as the crowd chanted "Dusty! Dusty!"
Hernandez-Harrison had a solution to settle the score, offering to fight Dallas in a rematch.
"I'll fight him in Bakersfield, California. I'll fight him right now," he said.
Rock scores first-round KO in pro debut
Philadelphia heavyweight Darmani Rock, a 20-year-old standout amateur, made his pro debut in explosive fashion, knocking out Carlos Black (1-4, 0 KOs), of Rockville, Maryland, in the first round.
Rock (1-0, 1 KO) showed poise as he went after Black before finally reaching him with a powerful right hand that sent him staggering into the ropes. Rock then connected with a clean left hand as Black was falling to the mat, and referee Michelle Myers counted him out just before he reached his feet.
"I feel great. Hard work pays off," Rock said. "This is just the beginning. I was a little nervous. I had to warm up a little bit. ... I seen him bobble a little bit when I landed the right hand and then I got him with the left and that was it. But next time, I'll start a little faster."
The 6-foot-4, 247-pound Rock, who won the 2015 National Golden Gloves and U.S. National Amateur titles, was chased by multiple promoters before he signed with Jay Z's Roc Nation Sports in February.
• Puerto Rican junior featherweight Luis Orlando Del Valle (21-2, 15 KOs) scored two knockdowns of southpaw Thomas Snow (18-3, 12 KOs), of Washington, in what turned out to be the difference in his win. Del Valle, who won his fourth fight in a row, won 76-74 on all three scorecards.
Del Valle worked his way inside in the second round and landed a short right hand that dropped Snow with about a minute left. Midway through the third round, Del Valle landed a left hand for another knockdown, which proved to be the difference.
Snow said he was hampered by an injured left shoulder suffered early in the bout.
"I had the edge from every judge because my boxing was superior," Del Valle said. "I applied pressure and I was the busier fighter. I dropped him twice, and it was a really dirty fight and hard to get through."
• Greenbelt, Maryland, cruiserweight Sam Crossed (3-0, 1 KO), with a big cheering section in the crowd, was pushed hard in a majority decision win against D.C. southpaw Damion Reed (2-14, 1 KOs). The judges scored the fight 40-36, 39-37 and 38-38.
• Junior welterweight Abner Cotto, cousin of Puerto Rican star Miguel Cotto, cruised to a six-round decision against Sam Amoako, easily outboxing the Baltimore journeyman 60-54, 60-54 and 58-56.
• Chinese heavyweight Zhang Zhilei (9-0, 6 KOs), a 2008 Olympic silver medalist, took a couple of clean shots but drilled out-of-shape John Orr (1-8, 0 KOs), of Kansas City, Missouri, in the first round. Zhang dropped him twice, first with a left hand and then with a right hand on the chin. When Orr went down face-first on the second knockdown, Waleed waved off the fight without a count at 2 minutes, 27 seconds.