Jamel Herring deserved better from Tim Bradley and Andre Ward
No one in their right mind but the wickedly deluded think professional boxing is anything resembling a walk in the park, comparatively, to the other spheres of sport in which one can make a living.
But sometimes this “game” offers up fare which reminds even the hardened cynics that way too often, plenty of those brave souls plying the dark trade deserve a bit more respect from those outside looking in who are too quick to critique.
On Sunday morning, after eight rounds of combat at the MGM in Vegas, Jamel Herring did a round of tests at a Nevada hospital, and pondered what he’d just dealt with in sharing a squared circle with Jonathan Oquendo while defending his WBO 130 pound crown.
To help with context, Herring is 34, he turns 35 in October. He served terms of duty in Iraq, as a proud Marine, and took up prizefighting after the military stint. He’s shared with fans his travails in reconciling his days as a warrior on battlefields, and also doing emotional combat following the death of his daughter, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The boxer, bred on Long Island, NY, is accustomed to getting dissected by fans and pundits during and following his outings; as his 22-2 record suggests, he’s not inclined to present himself as a pugilist-technician at the same level his camp-mate Terence Crawford. And after getting his hand raised in the Bubble in an ESPN+/Top Rank main event, he felt himself trying to wrap his brain around being termed a quitter.
“Blood was still dripping in my mask AFTER the fight,” Herring messaged me, along with the below image, a couple hours after the controversial finish.
“So to say I quit just sucks… I’ve been through so much in life as it is. Never been a quitter. As I’m writing you Mike, I’m STILL in a damn hospital. I just had to get a cat scan. That’s how bad they felt the headbutts were.”
I put in my two cents, and I told him, straight up, I did NOT agree with ESPN analyst Tim Bradley, the California-based ex fighter who told watchers that he thought Herring looked for the easy way out.
See my Twitter timeline, I didn’t pull punches, I thought Bradley mis-stepped with some of his analysis of Herring, and that his colleague Andre Ward also erred with some of his takes on the Herring outing.
I won’t deny, I do think that it’s possible age is starting to make it so Herring isn’t able to do some of the the things he wants to, knows he needs to, in order to make life during his ring duty a bit easier. I shared my theories, along those lines, and also that battling COVID might have sapped him more than a bit as well.
“I think the ring rust really threw me off,” Herring, the No. 3 RING junior lightweight, told me. “Like I was absolutely NOT tired but my rhythm was off when things got ugly. I myself don’t even agree with the DQ if I’m being honest. A technical decision maybe, but the DQ wasn’t the right way.”
If you didn’t tune in to ESPN+, you didn’t hear Bradley aiming his fire at Herring, who put down Oquendo (31-7) in round three. Bradley–who, by the way, I appreciate, very often, for his willingness to NOT pull punches, which too many ex fighters do– said Herring should have known that Oquendo is a butter, and that “Real eyes realize….Herring wanted out, I gotta tell you that, he wanted out.” The blood in the eye, that shouldn’t have affected Herring THAT much, Bradley told viewers.
“To me, I honestly feel like he gave up,” Bradley said.
And then Ward, a bit more politely, intimated the same. “I agree,” Ward said, then, “I would have liked to see Jamel Herring find a way to get through his.”
“Herring didn’t react like a fighter tonight,” Bradley said, in closing.
I am not on board with Bradley’s appraisal, and concur with Herring that his win should probably be a decision, not a DQ; and, a reading of the Association of Boxing Commissions’ regs backs us both up.
Then again, as I laid out in this piece, neither I nor viewers were privy to all the discussions between referee Tony Weeks and commission honcho Bob Bennett, and others who were ringside watching the 130 pounders collide. But what BoxRec labels the win, that’s not as important as how Bradley and Ward labeled Herring.
It’s one thing if there is a track record in that ring, or in chapters of life. Herring deserves extra credit for what he’s dealt with, and, in fact, more leeway from people, like Tim Bradley and Andre Ward, who should know better than to say, or even so much as imply, that Jamel Herring is a quitter. Both men owe Herring an apology.
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