By the end of this weekend, Jamel Herring should have a clear view on his next fight.
For now, plans point to his defending the WBO junior lightweight versus Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8KOs), providing the former featherweight titlist emerges victorious on Saturday night. Newark’s Stevenson faces Namibia’s Jeremia Nakathila for the WBO interim title, which will further solidify his written guarantee of a straightaway shot at Herring (23-2, 11KOs) as long as he wants it.
Recent comments suggest that Stevenson is no longer as interested in the fight as he has let on for the past several months. Oddly, Stevenson and Herring have a similar goal in mind, though not each other—rather, a showdown with WBC junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23KOs). Herring is willing to take whatever fight is next assigned, though not at the expense of his career being placed on hold while surrounding parties make moves around him.
“I’m staying at 130 with the goal of becoming the lineal champion,” Herring told BoxingScene.com. “The fight I want is that unification fight with Valdez, who I view as the best in the division especially once Gervonta (Davis, WBA “Super” champion) moves up (to junior welterweight) to fight Mario Barrios later this month.
“I made my commitment with the WBO to make my mandatory next, but Shakur is on the record expressing his interest in fighting Valdez next. That tells me there’s a high possibility this fight with him won’t take place.”
Herring has made three defenses of the WBO 130-pound title he claimed in a 12-round win over Japan’s Masayuki Ito in May 2019. The most recent came this past April, delivering a career-best performance in a 6th round knockout of former two-division champ Carl Frampton. The fight came with the promise that he would honor his WBO mandatory versus Stevenson, although the 2016 Olympic Silver medalist and current junior lightweight contender clearly has other plans in mind.
If that is the case, Herring plans to pursue the next best option to get him to the top of the division. The IBF title is currently vacant, while Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (24-0, 23KOs) is straddling three separate weight divisions as the WBA “Super” 130-pound champ, WBA “World” lightweight titlist and now pursuing Barrios’ WBA “World” junior welterweight title on June 26 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
A win by Davis could leave the hard-hitting southpaw with the hard choice of which belt he plans to keep. The right move could create a path for Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez (25-3-1, 20KOs) to receive an upgrade on his current WBA “World” junior lightweight title, thus creating an option for the 35-year-old Herring in the event his next fight isn’t versus Stevenson.
“I’ll be willing to sit at the table with [Gutierrez’s] team and Golden Boy Promotions to make a unification matchup, if I don’t get the Stevenson or Valdez fight next,” notes Herring. “I’ve never had the easy road but I’m still the same fighter willing to fight the toughest challenges to make my mark.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox