Jamel Herring begins training camp, could make second title defense in July

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Jamel Herring is back in training camp as he begins preparations for the second defense of his WBO junior lightweight title, which could take place in July.

Top Rank vice president of boxing operations Carl Moretti told ESPN’s Steve Kim that the fight will take place at an MGM property in Las Vegas, but did not confirm an opponent or other details for the card. Herring told Kim that the fight would likely take place on July 2.

Herring (21-2, 10 knockouts) left his home in Cincinnati and arrived at training camp in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday to begin shedding the ring rust alongside head trainer Brian McIntyre. He tells The Ring that he began sparring yesterday, and has two sparring partners to work with, with another coming in on Saturday. He’s still able to do his strength and conditioning work with coach Jamie Belt at his private gym. The only difference with this camp, so far, is that he can’t use the pool at the local YMCA.

He says he channeled his Marine training during cardio workouts at home in Cincinnati, running a minimum of three miles at a time to stay in shape while boxing was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in your 20s or 30s, in boxing we all know that if you stay out the ring too long, you build up the ring rust, that isn’t always good, especially if I want to come back and fight guys like Carl Frampton and other champions,” said the 34-year-old Herring. “I need to stay busy and active, you don’t want that wall to hit you at the wrong time.”

The southpaw Herring, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, won the title with a decisive victory over Masayuki Ito last May, and retained it with a points win over Lamont Roach in November.

Herring says that while none of the details are concrete, he could possibly face an opponent who is rated in the top 15 of a division above or below the 130-pound weight class, where he is rated no. 3 by The Ring behind Miguel Berchelt and Joseph Diaz.

He adds that he insisted on the fight being a title defense, so he can “keep my body getting used to making 130 pounds.”

Moretti was vague about the situation in a message to The Ring, saying “We hope to have Jamel fight someone, at some point. We are still very far from announcing anything for anyone. This is a very complex situation.”

Top Rank is reportedly looking to resume boxing promotions next month, beginning with a June 9 fight card headlined by WBO featherweight titleholder Shakur Stevenson against Rafael Rivera in Las Vegas. Top Rank CEO told The Ring earlier this week that only essential personnel would be in the venue, with family and reporters occupying a room adjacent to the building.

Prior to the pandemic, which has brought the sports world to a halt since March, Herring had been targeting a June meeting with former two-division titleholder Carl Frampton of Northern Ireland. International travel issues, as well as Frampton’s stated reluctance to fight such a significant bout in front of an empty audience, has put that fight on hold, at least until December, Herring says.

“If I’m being honest, we all know he had an injury to his hands so maybe he’s trying to save that risk of potentially injuring himself again for a bigger fight,” said Herring. “On the flip side it’s not the wisest choice. If we can fight before the year is up it’ll probably be in December and if you look at it he would have been out the ring for a whole entire year leading into December since he fought November 30.

“Everyone’s entitled to do what they want with their career but I wasn’t willing to sit out and wait a whole entire year. Plus we never know if the fight will even happen then because we don’t know how long this pandemic will go on.”

Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at ryansongalia@gmail.com.

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