The reality of what had just transpired hit Jamel Herring hard in the immediate aftermath of his loss to Jamaine Ortiz on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
This wasn’t a lopsided defeat to an elite-level talent like Shakur Stevenson, a gifted fighter Herring considers one of boxing’s best, pound-for-pound. Ortiz is unbeaten, but still someone Herring believes he should’ve overcome in his first fight since Stevenson stopped him in the 10th round of their October 23 bout for Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Herring indicated that suffering such a loss has convinced the Marine to retire from boxing.
“I love this sport, but I owe it to my family to quit putting them through these moments,” Herring wrote in a statement released on Twitter. “Thank you all, whether you were with me or against me, you made me who I am, but it’s time. Semper Fi, salute.”
Herring moved back up to the lightweight division for his 10-round fight with Ortiz, the weight class in which Ortiz has competed throughout his six-year pro career. The left-handed Herring is 36, too, 10 years older than Ortiz.
Those numeric disadvantages weren’t why he lost, according to Herring, in a co-feature ESPN televised from Resorts World Las Vegas. Nine-and-a-half years into a pro career he launched after representing the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Herring has come to the realization that this should mark the end of it.
“I don’t think that was it,” Herring told ESPN’s Mark Kriegel, who asked during Herring’s post-fight interview if age was the difference in his loss to Ortiz. “He was just, he just had a better output. He had a better output. You know what I mean? I wasn’t tired or anything, but you know, he just beat me to the draw.”
Judges Max De Luca (97-93) and David Sutherland (97-93) scored seven rounds apiece for Ortiz (16-0-1, 8 KOs). The Worcester, Massachusetts native won six rounds on the card of judge Chris Migliore (96-94).
Cincinnati’s Herring (23-4, 11 KOs), who became emotional while answering Kriegel’s questions, lost back-to-back bouts for the first time as a pro.
Before Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) defeated him, Herring had won seven straight fights, including an impressive performance against former two-division champion Carl Frampton. Belfast’s Frampton, whom Herring stopped in the sixth round 13 months ago in Dubai, announced his retirement in the ring once Herring beat him by technical knockout to retain his WBO junior lightweight title.
A dejected Herring understands now why Frampton felt retirement suited him best following that loss.
“I gotta think about it,” Herring said regarding retirement, before he seemingly made that decision later Saturday night. “But like I said, I don’t think, after tonight, I just don’t think I’m where I need to be, especially to fight at an elite level anymore. … I’m a proud man. But Jamaine was the better man and I don’t know, maybe that’s it. Like I tried, Mark, I tried.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.