As far as good fights between big fights go, this one ain’t bad.
We have a clash of US Olympians, one in his mid-30s, the other in his mid-20s, and they don’t seem to particularly like each other. No, this isn’t the sort of intensity we saw a few weeks ago in Fury-Wilder. It’s more an older man annoyed by the younger.
It’s still not hugs and smiles.
Shakur Stevenson is being positioned as tomorrow’s superstar. Jamel Herring has been somewhat an overachiever who rebounded from two losses to arrive at this fight on the best run, and off the best win, of his career.
Someone keeps their story moving forward Saturday night (ESPN, 10:30 PM EST)
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Title: WBO Jr. lightweight (2019-Present, 3 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 129 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Cincinnati, Ohio
Record: 23-2, 11 KO, 1 KOBY
Rankings: #1 (Ring), #2 (TBRB, ESPN, BoxRec),
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-0, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: 122-14-2 (.891)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Denis Shafikov TKO by 10; Masayuki Ito UD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Carl Frampton TKO6
Previous Titles: WBO featherweight (2019-20)
Weight: 130 lbs.
Hails from: Newark, New Jersey
Record: 16-0, 8 KO
Rankings: #1 (ESPN), #5 (Ring, BoxRec), #7 (TBRB)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-0
Last Five Opponents: 112-8-2 (.942)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Joet Gonzalez UD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
The Pick: Talent matters and so far the evidence suggests Stevenson has the higher ceiling of the two men competing Saturday. Stevenson was more accomplished as an amatuer and, while Stevenson has had fewer pro fights, there really isn’t that big a gap between the two in terms of their level of opposition. Herring has an edge there, but it’s slight in a career that hasn’t been marked by volumes of activity. Where Herring also has an edge is in height, length, and maturity. Stevenson is considerably younger but in boxing that isn’t a hindrance and while he’s shorter he’s not necessarily smaller. Anyone who has seen Stevenson in person knows he’s big for his weight classes with a frame for a few more weight classes. The thin Herring moved down in weight after struggling at lightweight and may not be the more physical force in the ring.
For Herring to win, he probably needs to be first and use Stevenson’s sometimes limited output against him from range. Stevenson thus far has been hard to catch clean so if Herring can put some leather on him early it could force Stevenson to open up more. If Herring can stay with a more offensive Stevenson, the upset is possible. In this case, the pick is the talent. Herring will be motivated and compete but Stevenson will respond to it with better defense and an uptick in offense en route to a decision win.
Rold Picks 2020: 34-11
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com