ATLANTA – Terence Crawford sparred with Jamel Herring to help Herring prepare for each of the determined Marine’s first six fights with Crawford’s training team.

Though Brian McIntyre and Jacqui “Red” Spikes have been simultaneously training Herring and Crawford for big fights in Colorado Springs since last month, Crawford couldn’t lend Herring a helping hand for his fight against Shakur Stevenson on Saturday night. Crawford, who has mentored Stevenson since he turned pro early in 2017, understandably refused to choose sides between two boxers that the three-division champion considers family.

The unbeaten WBO welterweight champion ultimately decided to attend their 12-round fight for Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title. Herring suspects, though, that Crawford will hate every second of sitting ringside for a main event ESPN will televise from State Farm Arena (10:30 p.m. EDT).

“He hates it,” Herring told regarding Crawford’s opinion of their fight. “I’ll tell you just like that – he hates it. He doesn’t like the idea of us fighting each other. He has pulled me to the side a few times in camp and expressed his opinion, and just wished that we both could’ve went different routes. He understands it is a business, but if it was up to him, he says if it was his choice, I would be fighting Valdez instead of Shakur.”

Cincinnati’s Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) also would’ve preferred to meet Mexico’s Oscar Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) in what would’ve been a 130-pound title unification fight against the WBC champion.

Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) wanted the Valdez fight more, too, but once the 2016 Olympic silver medalist realized Valdez wouldn’t be next for him, either, the Newark, New Jersey, native and his handlers pushed their promoter, Bob Arum, to make the Herring fight. The former WBO featherweight champion is the mandatory challenger for Herring’s title, which forced Arum’s company to make a bout it otherwise would not have put together.

The 24-year-old Stevenson, who prepared in Las Vegas to challenge Herring, told recently that fighting Herring won’t be awkward for him because he doesn’t consider the 2012 U.S. Olympian a friend. Herring senses Stevenson has downplayed the nature of their relationship to add intrigue to their fight.

What’s indisputable is that Crawford, who will defend his 147-pound crown against Shawn Porter on November 20 in Las Vegas, wanted them to fight any opponent but each other.

“For instance, if you look at the ESPN buildup that we had recently,” Herring said, “[Crawford is] not in any of the clips like that, in terms of training, because he doesn’t wanna feel like he’s choosing sides, which I respect. Like this is actually the first training camp that we didn’t spar each other. I respect that. So, like he hates the whole idea of this fight that much. He loves us both just like family, so I can understand that.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.