Bring on Carl Frampton.
Jamel Herring successfully defended his WBO junior lightweight title, winning by disqualification following the eighth round on Saturday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Herring, who hails from Coram, New York, improves to 22-2 (10 knockouts). He had not fought since November 9, when he defeated mandatory challenger Lamont Roach by unanimous decision in the first defense of his title.
The 34-year-old southpaw, who served two tours of duty as a U.S. Marine, had two previous fight dates with Oquendo postponed, both due to Herring testing positive for COVID-19.
Oquendo defeated Charles Huerta by unanimous decision in his previous fight on November 14. Six months prior he had lost a close decision to Roach in a fight many at ringside thought Oquendo did enough to win.
From the opening bell, the southpaw Herring landed the more effective punches, countering the aggressive Oquendo. Midway though Round 3, Herring landed a left uppercut to the head that dropped Oquendo. The challenger did not appear to be hurt, however, as he beat the count and fought on.
While Herring was in control, Oquendo spent most of the fight leading with his head. Following several inadvertent clashes, Herring finally suffered a cut above his right eye. Referee Tony Weeks ruled that the wound was caused by a headbutt and deducted a point from Oquendo at the end of the session.
Oquendo continued to press, but the action was untidy. Herring would throw a punch or counter, then grab on to Oquendo, who smothered his own work more than anything.
After the end of Round 8, Herring told referee Tony Weeks that he was unable to see out of his right eye. Herring’s corner, including trainer Brian McIntyre, asked Weeks if Herring would still retain his title if they were unable to continue. According to ABC unified rules the result would be a technical decision victory for Herring because the bout continued after the intentional foul. Had the fight been stopped in the fifth, Herring would have won by disqualification.
At the time of the stoppage, Herring was well ahead on the scorecards: 80-70, 80-70, and 79-71.
Herring remained diplomatic despite being disappointed with the manner of victory.
“He kept coming at me,” said Herring, who is promoted by Top Rank. “We knew he was going to be aggressive. We complained to Tony Weeks about it. I didn’t mind continuing. I’ve been there before. My team felt it was too much to fight with one eye.
“It just got ugly. Everything was real smooth. In the end, I wasn’t happy with how I looked. I was disappointed with the outcome. It’s not about wins, it’s how you perform. I’ve been through a 20-week training camp.”
Herring is now in line to defend his world title against Carl Frampton, who is co-promoted by Top Rank. A fight was planned for November 14 but it might need to be pushed back due to the cut.
Despite what he described was a “lackluster” performance, Herring did not think his battle with COVID-19 had anything to do with it.
“I knew he was trying to outwork me,” said Herring, who represented the U.S. at the 2012 Olympic Games. “I wasn’t tired. I was not huffing and puffing. Just the second half (of the fight) was bad.”
Oquendo, who resides in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, dropped to 31-7 (19 KOs).
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing
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