With first loss behind him, Jamel Herring looks toward Toledo
The last few months have been tough for Jamel Herring.
Not because the 31-year-old is coming off his first defeat, a 10th round technical knockout loss to Denis Shafikov last July but because of the difficulty in locking down opponents for his return, he says.
Herring says his team had tried to get former titleholders Argenis Mendez and Miguel Vazquez, among a handful of opponents, for his first fight of 2017, which is set for the off-TV undercard of “PBC on Bounce” on Friday at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio, which is headlined by IBF lightweight titleholder Robert Easter Jr. making his first title defense against Luis Cruz.
Premier Boxing Champions finally locked in Art Hovhannisyan for the eight-round lightweight bout, a chance for the 2012 Olympian from Coram, Long Island, New York to start over fresh.
“I know he comes forward a lot. He’s basically the type of guy that if you hit him, he’s gonna try to hit you back, at least. He’s gonna be right there in my face all night,” said Herring (15-1, 8 knockouts) of his opponent (17-3-3, 9 KOs), an Armenian native now based in Glendale, California.
Part of what helped him move past the loss to Shafikov, who dropped him on a wide right hook in round two before the the corner threw in the towel during the final round, is believing that he knows why it happened.
Herring says he was overtrained from trying to drop a division to 130 pounds for a fight against Javier Fortuna, which never happened, and says he didn’t take time to rest between training camps before going into the Shafikov fight.
“I’m usually a boxer but I seen that my body was just shot,” said Herring. “I take nothing from Shafikov; he was just a better fighter that night but I just thought, at times, I couldn’t do what I normally do in the ring and I had to adjust and fight with him.
“He was the better man with that game plan.”
In response to the loss, adviser Al Haymon was supportive, said Herring, reassuring him he had faith in his career. For the U.S. Marine and veteran of two tours in Iraq, those were marching orders to get back to work.
“I didn’t take the loss like mostly negative. I took it as a learning experience for how to prepare properly in the future,” said Herring. “I sat down with Al Haymon and we spoke. He said good things; he told me not to really worry about it and we’ll just move on to the next (opponent).”
Herring is looking forward to Friday, not only as a fighter but a fan as well. Two of his training partners – Easter and WBA bantamweight titleholder Rau’Shee Warren – will be defending their titles on the card. Warren will face Zhanat Zhakiyanov in his first title defense, while fellow Olympians Raynell Williams and Terrell Gausha will also be in action.
“For Robert’s situation, not taking anything away from Cruz, from watching both fighters and being in the ring with Robert, that fight might come down to…I’ll give it like a fifth round KO,” said Herring, handicapping the main event. “I believe the most interesting fight is Rau’shee’s fight because he’s in there with a tough guy. I believe he can pull of the win but that’s gonna be the more interesting fight.”
Herring has to handle business first and that means proving to those at ringside that he belongs in the title picture too.
“After this fight, (Haymon) told me just to wait 90 to 120 days for the next one to get back on the fast track of things,” said Herring. “I told him I’ve always been the type of fighter to earn everything. I don’t want to be placed in a situation that I can’t handle, meaning, if I know full and well that I didn’t prepare myself or earn that spot, I don’t want it that way.
“The 135-pound division is heating up, especially with the return of (WBC titlist) Mikey Garcia, so I’m just looking forward to what’s next.”
Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to THE RING magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @RyanSongalia.
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