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Jamel Herring: World Champion 365 Days and Counting

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Jamel Herring: World Champion 365 Days and Counting

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Jamel Herring: World Champion 365 Days and Counting

Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring on May 26, 2019, challenged for the WBO Jr. Lightweight title against Masayuki “The Judge” Ito. In front of a packed house at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida, Herring walked out the new champion.

365 Days and a title defense later, Herring is still holding the strap at 130 pounds and won’t let go. Catching up with Herring to speak about his title reign; he didn’t think he would get here so quickly.

Herring (21-2,10 KOs) was coming off a loss Ladarius Miller back in 2017. From there, the former U.S. Marine and U.S. Olympic boxing captain switched promotional outlets from Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) to Top Rank and from also moved down in weight classes to lightweight in the process.

Speaking with Herring looking back on the whole process, he was shocked at how it all came to fruition, when he signed with them in 2018.

“Top Rank definitely had the plan mapped out, you know, and that was the goal. So I could say like everything that he (CEO Chairman Bob Arum) promised, it came to fruition, but it’s still amazing how cool it came in like basically like a year I got signed with them,” Herring said in an interview to Big Fight Weekend.

In the fight, one thing he set out to do to dethrone Ito as champion was take control of the battle early on. From there, Herring was able to outbox the Japanese champ and cruised to a unanimous decision victory.

“Once I really picked up the groove in the third round and from there just took it one round at a time. After a while, I was thinking I got to be ahead. You can sometimes sense the desperation of another fighter (in a fight). When you see that he’s trying to do things that out of the ordinary, that means either you know you have his number, or he’s trying to play catch up or trying to score a knockout because his corner may be telling him that he’s down in the fight,” Herring said. 

The photo of the atmosphere when they announced Herring the winner is worth more than a thousand words can describe below, and needless to say, it was a fantastic moment.

Once he captured the title from Ito, all signs pointed that the next fight in line was a unification bout with WBC titleholder Miguel Berchelt. So much so, Berchelt was in attendance post-fight and was looking forward to the bout. Those plans fell by the wayside during the summer months.

Instead, Herring on Veterans Day weekend in November took on mandatory challenger Lamont Roach in his first title defense. The one thing leading up to the fight was that Roach was going to pull out “a bag of tricks” to try to become the new champion.

That trick bag was empty, and Herring retained outpointing Roach over twelve rounds.

“I would like to actually personally know, what was the bag of tricks from him? Herring mentioned about Roach’s plan into the fight. “Pretty much for that fight, you could tell that the pace was a lot slower because he’s also a counter puncher. So it pretty much became a chess match. At times if you notice, I had to push the fight or go forward and come after him because he was who really, defensive sometimes.”

The key for Herring retaining against Roach laid to out to me was an adjustment in fight strategy from the about when he won the title.

“He (Roach) caught me real good in 11th round, of course, even in the 12th round, but he didn’t make the adjustments to keep him at bay. I just had to change what I did a little bit from the Ito fight because, in the Ito fight, he was the one being the aggressor, you know, and I was like playing Matador. But I had to use my size and press the issue at times because Roach was sitting back a lot in a way for me to make a mistake,” Herring stated.

Another name to keep an eye out in a potential matchup is former world champion Abner Mares. It’s been a while since we saw Mares in action and was last scheduled to take on Gervonta Davis before getting injured.

Mares has since gotten back ready to fight and has called out Herring to a contest during this pandemic. Herring would have no problem taking him on either.

“I know Abner Mares has done a lot in the sport of boxing,” Herring said. “Give me the Frampton fight or the Mares fight next.  Obviously, a unification bout will trump both those fights.”


Herring, of course, is still waiting for that opportunity to take on Berchelt and isn’t going to shy away from anyone in upcoming title defenses. At this point, it is known that he can’t wait to defend his title against Carl Frampton.

“We want to face Carl Frampton, of course. I want to face other world champions out there also,” Herring said in fights that he wanted next.

Frampton is the one contest that has been long-awaited since his victory last December in Las Vegas against Tyler McCreary. Herring was at the fight and shook hands with him in the post-fight interview. The match was slated to take place in Belfast, but that was until the pandemic stopped everyone’s plans in live sports completely.

Herring feels once this subsides that his contest with the former champ will take place here in the States towards the end of the year.

While we wait to see when Herring take on Frampton, he’s currently back in training camp as he is slated to be in action sometime around July 2 in conjunction with Independence Day weekend. Whoever that will be, Herring will be prepared to continue the title reign that he started on this day, one year ago.

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Marquis Johns is a unknown humorist and avid boxing fan. His love for the sweet science goes back to when matches were 15 rounds and has been covering fights since closed-circuit pay-per-views. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth is not only a quote by Mike Tyson, it's also a pretty good reminder to keep your guard up.

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