One of the more anticipated fights that sat idle for some time due largely to the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic was the battle between WBO Jr. Lightweight world champion Jamel Herring and former two-division world champion Carl Frampton. An intriguing clash of styles between the taller, longer fighter in the champion Harring and the shorter fighter in Frampton, who has made a career out of defeating opponents that had natural height and reach advantages over him.
Two fighters that are boxer/punchers with some similarities is enough to draw interest on it’s own. When you throw into the equation that Frampton was attempting to become the first Irish boxer to win world championships in three weight divisions after previously holding world championships in the 122lb. Jr. Featherweight and 126lb. Featherweight divisions, it added the element of potential history being made. This all culminated in the two fighters meeting on April 3rd at Cesars Palace in Dubai, U.A.E.
The dynamic of this fight was both simple and complex. Could Frampton, who stands 5’5 find a way to get on the inside of the 5’10 Herring and could he do so consistently enough to have sustained success. Where the complexity of the equation enters in is, despite having the natural physical attributes of height and reach, particularly for a 130lb. Jr. Lightweight, Herring is also a fighter that can fight successfully on the inside when he chooses to not keep an opponent at distance. It interested this observer to see who would get the better of the exchanges if Frampton were able to get on the inside of Herring’s reach more than occasionally.
Both fighters were able to have periods of success throughout the bout, but what stood out to me was the difficulty Frampton seemed to have in trying to negate Herring’s reach. While the task of facing a taller and longer fighter for a shorter boxer can be difficult, one tactical approach is usually for the shorter fighter to try to stay low as they try to close distance. Although this is a task that is often easier said than done, it seemed as though Frampton was having trouble navigating the range between himself and Herring. This along with sporadic head movement and an inability to stay low where theoretically he could get under Harring’s punches seemed to indicate that this would be a difficult fight for him as Harring got the better of most of the exchanges and dictated the tempo of the combat.
Frampton was however, able to have sporadic success in landing body shots and appeared to cut Herring over the right eye in round four with s punches. While this was not confirmed, it nevertheless kept things competitive for a time. After landing a right hand off of the forehead of the champion in round five, Frampton attempted to press forward to try to take advantage of the opening he had created, but as he did so, he left himself vulnerable and walked into a straight left hand to the head from Harring sending him down to the canvas.
The champion regained control with this knockdown and brought the fight to its conclusion in round six, first by dropping Frampton with a flush left uppercut to the head, and then continuing the assault until Frampton’s corner threw the towel in to save him from further punishment. Although Frampton deserves all the credit in the world for getting up from the second knockdown, the type of uppercut that would end the night for most fighters on the receiving end of it, I was frankly surprised that the fight was allowed to momentarily continue as Frampton barely beat the ten count and was on very unsteady legs. This does not take anything away from Herring who knew his opponent was compromised, did not give him any time or breathing room to try and recover, and simply closed the show to get the stoppage and retain his WBO crown.
Frampton, who has been through some setbacks and struggles both in and out of the ring in recent years stated before the fight that if he did not win the bout, he would retire from the sport. A man who has been one of the sport’s great ambassadors throughout his entire career remained true to his word and announced his retirement in the ring after the fight.
As for Jamel Herring the third successful defense of his WBO Jr. Lightweight world championship could now lead to an eventual unification bout with current WBC world champion Oscar Valdez. It is more likely however, that he will be mandated by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) to face the winner of the upcoming bout between undefeated former WBO Featherweight world champion Shakur Stevenson and Jeremiah Nakathila, who are currently rated number one and two respectively in the WBO’s Jr. Featherweight ratings at 130lbs. With that bout targeted to take place in June, it is likely that barring any potential postponements either due to injury or the COVID-19 virus that Harring likely won’t fight until at least sometime in the fall of this year against whomever the winner of that bout will be.
What this all could amount to is a potential showdown between whomever is left standing between Herring, Stevenson, and Nakathila and Oscar Valdez in what will likely be one of the first big money bouts aimed to take place in 2022. While much remains uncertain due largely to the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis, if circumstances allow, there will certainly be a lot of money to be made in the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division in the long-term. If Herring can emerge from this scenario in 2022 as the last man standing of these four fighters, he will certainly become the top fighter in the division, be in position to earn even more lucrative opportunities, and the question will then become whether he will attempt to fully unify the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division or if he will set his sights on the 135lb. Lightweight division or beyond.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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