Jamel Herring proved that he’s still a player at junior lightweight with his win over Carl Frampton, but the division is still looking for a frontrunner.
Going into their April 3 junior lightweight title fight, Jamel Herring vs. Carl Frampton was seen as a 50-50 fight, but the result blew that theory up.
Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) delivered the best performance of his boxing career when he stopped Frampton in round 6 via TKO. At 35 years old, Herring proved that age hasn’t eroded his skills as he dominated Frampton for a conclusive victory to retain his WBO junior lightweight title.
Frampton (28-3, 16 KOs) looked like the older fighter despite being a year younger than Herring. Herring’s distinct height and reach advantage played a pivotal factor in the outcome and contributed to how boxing styles meshed in Herring’s favor.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) April 3, 2021
At 5-foot-10, Herring is very big for the division, but smaller boxers like Denis Shafikov found ways to get inside Herring’s 72-inch reach. However, Shafikov’s victory against Herring came in 2016, and Herring has drastically improved since then. He’s not the same fighter.
Herring’s accurate left hand out of the southpaw stance whittled Frampton away over six rounds. He’s a champion for a reason, but there are two other titleholders in the division with others who are championship caliber.
Could Herring beat Stevenson and/or Valdez?
Jamel Herring, Shakur Stevenson, and Oscar Valdez are junior lightweight titlists, but who has the upper hand?
He could, but would likely be the underdog against both despite how fantastic he looked against Frampton. That doesn’t seem entirely logical, but Stevenson’s potential and Valdez’s power and recent pummeling of Miguel Berchelt are impossible to overlook.
The junior lightweight division, like several others, is stacked with talent. Gervonta Davis still holds the WBA belt but will likely vacate it to focus on other divisions. Chris Colbert and Roger Guitierrez have other incarnations of the WBA title. The IBF sits vacant after Jojo Diaz missed weight and lost his title on the scale before fighting Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov to a draw in February.
The junior lightweight division is up for grabs. Herring vs. Stevenson or Valdez would help further define the division. All three sit atop of the division in my book, with the others a step behind, but one loss could make a difference and change the division’s landscape.
A Stevenson win over Herring would tell us a lot about how good the 23-year-old is now. A commanding performance would make him the latest youngster to emerge as a divisional kingpin.
Valdez’s boxing masterclass against Berchelt in February makes him the division’s leader. He showed a combination of athleticism, power, and boxing technique beyond those of his rivals. He’s only 30 years old and appears to be at his boxing peak.
Although Stevenson and Valdez are more attractive picks to take over the division than Herring, Herring proved that heart and hard work go a long way. Everything he has accomplished is founded in those two facets.
Then again, Herring could take himself out of the junior lightweight picture if he moves up to lightweight, as Stevenson and others have suggested. That would make it a two-man race between Valdez and Stevenson to capture all the belts.
It’s not entirely fair to predict Valdez and Stevenson as the likely suspects to vie to junior lightweight supremacy after Herring’s complete performance against Frampton, but competition is steep at the moment.
Stevenson and Valdez have the intangibles and the upside, but you can’t discount Herring because of his heart. You can doubt Herring, but disregarding him and the valor of his heart would be a foolish move. Whatever happens, Herring has earned his respect, and no one can take that away from him.