By Matt Lieberman: WBO Super Featherweight Champion Jemel Herring and #1 WBO Contender Shakur Stevenson are reportedly in advanced talks for a fight in late 2021 that will be shown on ESPN. The fight could take place in Atlanta.
During his career, Stevenson, a Newark, New Jersey native, has mostly been fighting in Las Vegas, Nevada. But by staging Stevenson vs Stevenson.
Battle of Herring in Atlanta, the top ranker will be hoping to take advantage of the huge crowd drawn in that city by three-division world champion Gerovanta ‘Tank’ Davis.
Mike Koppinger reports a conversation between two top-ranked fighters Herring (23-2, 11 KO) and unbeaten 2016 Olympic silver medalist Stevenson (16-0, 8 KO).
It’s not a fight the 35-year-old Herring wanted, though, as he was expected to face WBC 130-lb champion Oscar Valdez in a fight for unification. Not that Herring wanted to avoid recently turned 24-year-old Shakur Stevenson.
It was a case of a fight with Valdez much larger and more money was likely for the herring.
While Shakur is a great talent, he doesn’t have many fans yet due to his youth and his finesse-oriented, safety-first fighting style. Stevenson has a growing reputation for avoiding risk at all costs during his fight, which leaves fans open to criticism for being “boring” to watch.
The 5’10” Herring scored one of the biggest wins of his nine-year professional career when he stopped former two-division world champion Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton in the sixth round on April 3 in Dubai.
It was an outstanding performance by US Marine Herring, who used her enormous height and 5’5″ to reach the advantage to drop Frampton in rounds five and six.
In contrast, Stevenson recently defeated #2 Jeremiah Nakatilla by unanimous decision on June 12 by a 12-round unanimous decision. Though Shakoor won a one-sided victory by 12-round unanimous decision, it was a sluggish performance by him.
Boxing fans wanted Stevenson to fight Nakatilla to score a knockout, but he opted to walk around the ring and box him.
After the fight was over, Stevenson admitted that he didn’t feel comfortable exchanges with the heavy-handed Nakathilia after a few hard shots.
“You can hear it in my voice, I’m not really stressed about this fight,” said Herring. ESPN. “I know people said I would avoid fighting because I wanted to fight Oscar Valdez. I just felt in my heart that a fight with Oscar Valdez was big for my career.
“It would have been for a unification and linear title, so why don’t I push for that fight? If I have to go through Shakur to get through this fight, so be it. He’s a great boxer, but I’m going through worse times.”
Well, apparently, Stevenson versus Herring is a fight that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum wants. It makes sense for Arum to have a fight between Shakur and Herring as it would help make Stevenson a bigger name.
Stevenson needs to defeat a quality fighter like Herring to help his popularity. Had Arum let Herring fight WBC 130-lb champion Oscar Valdez, he might have lost the fight.
We don’t know if Arum wants Valdez to do it to Stevenson. It doesn’t help Arum’s bottom line if Valdez loses that fight to Stevenson. Valdez is the big draw and has the most potential to make money.
Had Arum allowed Herring to fight Valdez, he would have been forced to fight between the winner of that contest with Stevenson. Well, if Valdez wins, Arum will likely be trapped to defeat him if he loses to Shakur.
Arum should let Valdez defend his WBC title against the challengers and keep him away from the less popular Stevenson.
Herring has changed his career since losing to Denis Shafikov and Laderius Miller in 2016 and 2017. Since losing to Miller, Herring has won his last seven fights and completely changed his career.
In 2019, Herring defeated Masayuki Ito by 12-round unanimous decision to win the WBO 130-lb title. Since capturing the WBO Super Featherweight title, Herring has successfully defended it three times, defeating Frampton, Jonathan Oquendo and Lamont Roach.
“I go ahead fight Jamel Herring and beat him and then beat Oscar Valdez,” Stevenson said. “They’ll be saying I’m the best young fighter and putting me on a pound-for-pound list.”
I can’t be sure Shakur will get a fight against Oscar Valdez if he wins against Herring. But if he gets a fight with Valdez, it will be an uphill battle for him to win.
Valdez has far better offensive skills than Shakur, and can be knocked down by him.
Due to the way Stevenson used movement to avoid Nakatalia, it would be difficult for him to win a decision against Valdez. But if Shakur stands up and fights Valdez, he will be outdone in the power department.
Shakur is well aware of his reputation for being a boring fighter. However, he says that Floyd Mayweather Jr. was considered a fighter earlier in his career and went on to become a big star.
Mayweather was really an exciting fighter earlier in his career. When Mayweather moved up to 147, it wasn’t until he became boring to watch and an acquired taste for fans.
Stevenson is nothing like young Mayweather with his fighting style. If anything, Stevenson is like the old Mayweather in his late 30s, when he was almost unremarkable.