Stevenson: ‘Oscar(Valdez) can’t keep ducking’

Shakur Stevenson(17-0, 9 KOs) had the biggest test of his young career on Saturday night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta when he faced WBO 130-pound champion Jamel Herring, and it turned out to be an easy night for the Newark, NJ native.

Stevenson dominated Herring from start to finish and would get the victory by 10th-round TKO to win the WBO junior lightweight world title and become a two-weight world champion. He was brutalizing Herring, and when referee Mark Nelson stopped the fight, Stevenson was pitching a shutout on two of the three cards.

According to the 24-year-old Stevenson, after the fifth round, he started targeting a cut on Herring’s eye.

“Around the fifth round, I was landing everything, and then he started trying to come on,” Stevenson said. “I smelled blood. I saw he was bleeding and was like, ‘Okay, I have to attack the cut. I was trying to touch the cut to make the doctor try and stop it.”

The 35-year-old Herring (23-3, 11 KOs) was game on Saturday night, but he could not slow down Stevenson. 

“He’s sharp and slick. His hand-eye coordination is very good,” Herring said. “No excuses. He was just the better man tonight.”

Now, Stevenson wants more belts. As soon as the fight ended, the silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics made it clear who he wanted next, and that’s WBC 130-pound champion, Oscar Valdez.

“There’s only one fight left at the end of the day,’ he said. “It’s the biggest fight at the end of the day. Oscar can’t keep ducking. It’s time for him to fight. There’s nothing else to look forward to. The 130-pound division needs to unify. Let’s get it!”

The fight against Valdez should be next for Stevenson, and hopefully, Bob Arum and Top Rank can make that fight happen. However, if you’re Valdez, you might be a little reluctant to get in the ring with Stevenson after what you saw tonight. 

Stevenson has all the goods and appears to be the best at 130.

Ali Walsh has done it again:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Nico Ali Walsh (2-0, 2 KOs) had to go a little longer than his one-round August pro debut, but the grandson of “The Greatest” was dominant in knocking out James Westley II (1-1) in the third round of a middleweight special attraction. Ali Walsh ate a couple hard right hands in the first round, and he then knocked down Westley with a straight right hand shortly before the bell sounded to end the second. Westley’s corner stopped the fight following a knockdown early in the third round.

“I’m happy that my pro debut went the way it did,” he said. “There’s stuff, of course, I have to work on.

“I know the crowd got excited seeing him land a punch, but I did not feel the punch. Maybe it was my energy, my adrenaline, but my hat’s off to him and his team. Mutual respect both ways, and it was a very good fight.

“I’m blessed that I’m following the legacy of my grandfather. I think everyone who loves my grandfather who’s watching me… I love this legacy that I’m continuing.”

Holyfield shines:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Atlanta native Evan Holyfield (8-0, 6 KOs) — following in the footstep of his famous father— knocked out Charles Stanford (6-4, 3 KOs) in the second round of a scheduled six-round junior middleweight contest. Holyfield connected with a looping left hook that staggered Stanford. After a right hand for good measure, Stanford was on the deck and in no position to continue.

Stevenson on fight with Herring: ‘You’re going to see a special night, my coming out party’

They started as acquaintances, but once Jamel Herring acquired the belt Shakur Stevenson wanted, the friendly vibes went out the window. Herring will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against former featherweight champion Stevenson on Saturday night from State Farm Arena in Atlanta (ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 10:30 p.m. ET).

Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) has made three defenses of the title he won from Masayuki Ito in May 2019. Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is considered by many to be the heir to the pound-for-pound throne. He picked up the interim world title in June with a dominant decision over Jeremiah Nakathila.

When Herring and Stevenson had their final faceoff, the fighters and their teams exchanged verbal barbs, with Stevenson grabbing Herring’s belt on multiple occasions. They were separated and will resume the jawing at Friday’s weigh-in.

The ESPN main card will also feature Puerto Rican star Xander Zayas (10-0, 7 KOs) in a six-round junior middleweight bout against Dan Karpency, and the second pro bout for middleweight Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of “The Greatest.”

The ESPN+ undercard stream (7:30 p.m. ET) will showcase junior middleweight prospect Evan Holyfield (7-0, 5 KOs), son of Atlanta legend and former four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

At Thursday’s final press conference, this is what the combatants had to say.

Jamel Herring:

“The odds just play to my story. I’ve always been an underdog, not just in boxing but in life, so I don’t get into the oddsmaker thing. It doesn’t bother me at all.”

“It’s not personal, it’s just business. We’re building a fight is all it means to me. I’ve heard worse and been through worse. We’re just two top competitors in the division trying to prove who is the best.”

“It just feels like another elite level fight in a loaded and talented division, so we just take it one fight at a time. We put all personal feelings to the side and just go to work and do what we have to do.”

“Atlanta is cool. I have family out here. My sons live out here as well. It’s another home and it’s an honor just to be fighting in the State Farm Arena because there’s not a lot of fights coming into town, so whenever you can bring a special fight to a certain city, it’s always a great thing.”

Shakur Stevenson:

“It means everything to me. This is my first time being able to go against a champion and being able to take a champion’s belt will mean a lot to me…. and I can’t wait to hear them say, “AND THE NEW!'”

“It’s definitely not personal, just business at the end of the day. He’s not my friend. I don’t hit him up and say, ‘let’s fight.'” We don’t have any conversations. I don’t talk to Jamel Herring outside of boxing.”

“It’s going to feel real good beating the whole team. I can’t wait to go against {Herring trainers Brian McIntyre and Red Spikes}. It’s not just Jamel that I’m fighting. I’ve got to beat Bomac and Red, and it’ll feel good doing that.”

“You’re going to see a special night, my coming out party. It’s going to be a great night, and he said he’s going to spoil the party, so let’s see if he can do it.”

Valdez: ‘We all want the winner of Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring’

It’s been a rough few weeks for WBC 130-pound champion Oscar Valdez(30-0, 23 KOs), as it was revealed that he tested positive for a banned substance(phentermine).

Despite testing positive, Valdez was still able to fight Robson Conceicao(16-1, 8 KOs) on Friday night as the Pascua Yaqui Tribe Athletic Commission and the WBC let the fight go on.

Ultimately, Valdez would defeat Conceicao by unanimous decision (115-112 2x and 117-110) in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,545 at Casino Del Sol in Tuscon, Arizona, to retain his title.

Conceicao, who was using his jab effectively, throwing combinations and consistently landing against Valdez, dominated the early part of the fight, but to Valdez’s credit, he battled hard in the second half of the fight, which helped him get the victory. 

One judge had Valdez winning the final seven rounds, while another had Valdez winning six of the final seven.

Valdez was aided by the referee, who deducted a point from Conceicao for a rabbit punch that was more like a tap in the ninth round. The point deduction was questionable at best.

This was Valdez’s first defense of his title after stopping MigueL Berchelt in February, and he survived.

Conceicao did not like the decision, and according to Valdez, he was disrespectful after the fight.

“He’s(Conceicao) over here yelling in my face,” Valdez said. “We’re grown men. Don’t be yelling in my face. He might be upset. Of course, you want to be a world champion, but don’t point at me, don’t be yelling in my face. I’ve been through enough this week, man,” Valdez said. “It makes the fight complicated when someone is trying to run the whole fight. I’m trying to put on a good show for my fans, give the fans what they want, which is a good fight. If he wants to run, you can’t win a fight running like that.”

Canceicao added: “This is boxing. I cannot go with his game. I played my game. Look at his face and look at my face. I have nothing on my face. Oscar’s is all fu—- up. I won this fight.”

After this win, Valdez has his sights set on the winner of the October 23 bout between WBO champion Jamel Herring and unbeaten star Shakur Stevenson.

“We all want the winner of Shakur Stevenson and Jamel Herring,” Valdez said. “Let’s do it.”

Look, Valdez probably should not have been fighting on Friday night and probably should have been stripped of his title. However, this is boxing, so at times, the sport can be a mess. Fortunately, for all parties involved, no one was seriously hurt.

(Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)

Stevenson on Herring: ‘I am going to take his world title in devastating fashion on October 23’

Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring and Shakur Stevenson have been talking about fighting each other for some time, and now, it’s on! 

Herring will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against former featherweight world champion Stevenson on Saturday, October 23, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta(ESPN).

The 35-year-old Herring (23-2, 11 KOs), a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is looking to make his fourth straight successful title defense against Stevenson(16-0, 8 KOs).

Herring was at his best in April when he knocked out former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton in Dubai. However, defeating Stevenson won’t be easy, but when it’s all said and done, Herring plans to end the year the way he started it, which means a win.

“2021 has been good to me so far. I started the year with a big fight and a major win over Frampton,” Herring said via a press release. “I look forward to finishing out the year the same way I started it, not only with another huge victory but as a world champion. I have nothing else to say. I’m focused on October 23 and the fourth title defense of my WBO belt.”

Stevenson is 3-0 at junior lightweight, most recently picking up the interim WBO junior lightweight world title in June with a shutout decision over Namibia’s Jeremiah Nakathila.

According to the 24-year-old Stevenson, a former WBO featherweight world champion who vacated the title last year to move up to junior lightweight, Herring had no choice but to fight him.

“Jamel had to fight me, or he would’ve been stripped of his world title,” Stevenson said. “I boxed him into a corner, and I am going to take his world title in devastating fashion on October 23. I can’t wait to fight in front of the amazing fans in Atlanta. Trust me, you are going to see a show, and I will become a two-weight world champion.”

This is Stevenson’s moment to shine, but Herring won’t lie down. Expect a fun night in ATL.



Ali Walsh goes for victory number two:

Nico Ali Walsh (1-0, 1 KO), grandson of “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, looks to make it 2 for 2 against an opponent to be named in a four-round middleweight special attraction.

Ali Walsh’s Aug. 14 professional debut drew international media attention, and he knocked out Jordan Weeks in the opening round while wearing a pair of his grandfather’s old trunks. He’ll make his ring return in a city that hosted two of Muhammad Ali’s most memorable moments. State Farm Arena sits less than two miles from the Atlanta Olympic Cauldron Tower, where Ali lit the Olympic flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics. In October 1970, Ali fought Jerry Quarry at City Auditorium, his first fight in more than three years after being banned from the ring for refusing induction into the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Ali Walsh’s second pro fight will come three days shy of the 51st anniversary of the Quarry fight, which Ali won by third-round knockout.

The undercard — streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ — will see the professional comeback of U.S. Olympic silver medalist Duke Ragan (4-0, 1 KO) in a six-round featherweight bout, Ragan’s Olympic teammate Troy Isley (2-0, 1 KO) in a six-rounder at middleweight, Georgia native Haven Brady Jr. (3-0, 3 KOs) in a four-round featherweight tilt, and the A-Town debut of junior middleweight prospect Evan “Yung Holy” Holyfield (7-0, 5 KOs), an Atlanta native and the son of heavyweight legend Evander Holyfield. 

Herring: ‘They called me every name in the book, but even with the cut, I wasn’t going to give up’

In the biggest fight of his career, Jamel Herring came up big and dominated and then stopped Carl Frampton in the sixth round to retain his WBO junior lightweight world title Saturday from Caesars Bluewaters Dubai.

The 35-year-old Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) dropped Frampton twice in the fight, the second one coming in the sixth round courtesy of a brutal uppercut. A follow-up assault prompted Frampton’s corner to throw in the towel, and with that, Herring gets his signature victory and his first stoppage win since May 2018.

“It was an emotional rollercoaster just to get here,” Herring said. “My last outing was not my best. People doubted me. They called me every name in the book, but even with the cut, I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t going to quit, and Carl Frampton is a tremendous champion. I’ve been a fan since day one. It’s tough to see any veteran of the sport go out like that.”

Frampton (28-3, 16 KOs), from Belfast, was attempting to become the first man from the island of Ireland to win world titles in three weight classes. Having fallen short of that goal, the 34-year-old elected to retire.

“I said before the fight I’d retire if I lost, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Frampton said. “I want to just to dedicate my life to my family now. Boxing has been good to me. It’s also been bad to me, but the last few years with these boys have been the best years of my career. I just want to go home to my beautiful wife and kids, and that’s it.

“I just got beat by the better man. I really struggled to get inside on him.”

Will Frampton retire? Who knows. Boxers emotionally retire after fights all the time, so we’ll see what happens next. Regarding Herring, does he unify with WBC 130-pound champion Oscar Valdez, or will he battle WBO number one contender Shakur Stevenson? It should be interesting, but if you’re Herring, you want to unify, so Valdez, who is signed to Top Rank like Herring, and someone he called out after the fight, seems to be the obvious choice. 

Courtesy: D4G Promotions

Arum on Herring-Frampton: ‘It’s an even matchup’

 Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring’s WBO junior lightweight world title defense against Belfast’s former two-weight world champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton — Saturday, April 3 from Caesars Bluewaters Dubai — will stream live and exclusively in the United States on ESPN+.

Herring-Frampton will headline a two-bout broadcast beginning at 3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT. In the 10-round junior welterweight co-feature, undefeated Kazakh star Zhankosh Turarov will fight Belfast native Tyrone McKenna.

Undercard action will stream live on ESPN+ at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT.

“This is a fight that’s been in the works for a very long time, and I expect both Jamel and Carl to be at their best,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “It’s an even matchup, and I am pleased that fans in the United States can watch it live on ESPN+.”

Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) has made two defenses of the title he won from Masayuki Ito in May 2019, most recently defeating Puerto Rican challenger Jonathan Oquendo via disqualification last September at the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble. He was originally scheduled to face Frampton last summer in Belfast, but COVID-19 intervened. Frampton (28-2, 16 KOs), who won world titles at junior featherweight and featherweight, hopes to make history as the island of Ireland’s first three-division world champion. He has won two straight bouts since losing a unanimous decision to Josh Warrington in December 2018 for the IBF featherweight world title. In his lone ring appearance of 2020, Frampton knocked out late replacement foe Darren Traynor in the seventh round.

Undercard action streaming on ESPN+ includes:

Former four-weight world champion Donnie Nietes (42-1-5, 23 KOs) returns to action after more than two years away from the ring and will fight an opponent to be named in a 10-rounder at junior bantamweight. Nietes, from the Philippines, is one of four Asian fighters in boxing history to capture world titles in four weight classes.

Keyshawn Davis (1-0, 1 KOs), a former U.S. amateur standout who captured a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, will take on an opponent to be named in a six-round lightweight bout.

Colbert: ‘Gervonta Davis, Leo Santa Cruz and Jamel Herring would all be great fights for me’

Unbeaten interim WBA Super Featherweight Champion Chris “Primetime” Colbert will look to make a statement in his first nationally televised main event as he faces hard-hitting Jaime Arboleda live on SHOWTIME this Saturday, December 12 at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

“I always knew I was going to get here,” said Colbert. “It’s all God’s plan. This is just going to be another day for me and I’ll show everyone why I’m one of the best 130-pounders in the world.”

The 24-year-old Colbert has shot up the rankings of the 130-pound weight class and believes that a victory on Saturday night will lead to bigger opportunities in the jam-packed division.

“This is one of the most stacked divisions in boxing and I love competing in it,” said Colbert. “It’s great to be getting noticed in a division that has this much talent, and hopefully it’ll lead to me getting the big fights that I need. I don’t feel like there’s any certain fighter I’m targeting, but Gervonta Davis, Leo Santa Cruz and Jamel Herring would all be great fights for me. Beating them would help me become ‘the guy’ in the division.”

Colbert‘s rise continued in his last fight, as he scored a 10th-round knockdown against former champion Jezreel Corrales on his way to a decision win while showing an impressive array of skills against a fighter determined to slow the action through holding and other veteran tricks.

“Against Corrales I learned not to rush,” said Colbert. “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I can’t just go rush in there and expect everyone to get knocked out. I had to take my time, do what I do best and stick to my game plan.”

In the 26-year-old Arboleda, Colbert will be presented with another rising 130-pound contender with his own sights set on emerging amongst the elite in the division. Arboleda has won five of his last six fights by stoppage and most recently dropped Jayson Velez on his way to a decision victory in February on SHOWTIME.

“Come December 12, I’m ready for whatever he brings,” said Colbert. “I expect him to bring pressure and ‘try’ to make me tired because that’s the only chance he has. He can’t outbox me. That’s not happening. But I love to bang inside and I’m ready for whatever he does. I hope he doesn’t run or clinch me because I’d love to get the knockout and get him out of there early.”

The Brooklyn-native Colbert has continued to work with his longtime coach Aureliano Sosa in his hometown through the difficulties of the pandemic. Those difficulties have led to Colbert sparring with larger welterweight and super welterweights in camp, which Colbert believes could help him with the power Arboleda will bring into the fight.

“Training camp has been going great for the most part,” said Colbert. “It’s just been a little hard finding sparring partners. But because it’s been difficult to find fighters at my weight I’ve actually been sparring with 147 and 154-pound fighters. I honestly love that because it prepares me better, and who’s to say that Arboleda won’t have power like them? I’m on weight now, though, and ready to put on a show on December 12.”

Herring: ‘I’m disappointed with the outcome’

Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring made up for the COVID-related postponements, defending his WBO junior lightweight world title via eighth-round disqualification over Puerto Rican challenger Jonathan Oquendo at the MGM Grand Conference Center.

Referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight at the round’s conclusion due to repeated intentional headbutts from Oquendo, which left Herring unable to continue.

Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) knocked down Oquendo (31-7, 19 KOs) in the second round, and then the headbutts began. He opened up a nasty gash above Herring’s right eye and was deducted a point in the fifth round.

The headbutts continued and ultimately spelled the end of the evening for Oquendo. At the time of the disqualification, Herring was in control on the scorecards (80-70 2x and 79-71).

“It just got ugly. I wasn’t too satisfied with my performance, to be honest with you,” Herring said after the fight. “In the beginning, everything was going real smooth, me boxing. I put him down with an uppercut. We knew he was going to come head-first. We had to time it. In the end, I wasn’t happy with how I was looking. I’m disappointed with the outcome. I’ve never been in that situation. 

“I still want the Carl Frampton fight next by all means. November, December, whatever. I still want that fight next.”

The 34-year-old Herring did not have one of his better performances against Oquendo, but he did drop him and was in complete control of the fight in terms of the scorecards. Maybe you could argue Herring quit, which ESPN analyst and former world champion Tim Bradley said after the fight, but in the end, it’s win and move on. Now, it’s time to get ready for Frampton.

So Good, So Cold

Steven “So Cold” Nelson (17-0, 14 KOs) retained his NABO super middleweight belt with a one-sided sixth-round TKO victory over Toledo firefighter DeAndre Ware (13-3-2, 8 KOs). Nelson, from Omaha, Neb., has now won four in a row via stoppage.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Nelson, who suffered a pair of headbutt-induced cuts. The blood, however, served as fuel for the knockout to come.

Nelson said, “When that second cut came, I was like, I know how fighters are when they see an injury. So I said, ‘You know what, I have to get to work. My plan was to go out there and feel him out, don’t rush it too much. That’s why the first couple of rounds, I wasn’t doing too much, and then I picked it up. The headbutt was the perfect time for me to pick it up.

“I feel like I’m ready for a title eliminator and then let’s go for the title. That was my whole plan, to set myself up where they can’t deny me a world title.”

—Watch out for light flyweight Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez. The San Antonio native knocked out the normally durable Janiel Rivera (18-7-3, 11 KOs) in the opening round, the first time Rivera had been knocked out since 2014. Rodriguez is trained by Robert Garcia, and his brother, Joshua Franco, recently won a super flyweight world title inside the “Bubble.”

Rodriguez said, “I felt amazing. I told Robert in the locker room, ‘This is the best I’ve ever felt.’ I think I showed that today.

“To have a brother as a champion is really motivating to me. In camp, I was thinking that my brother became a champ, and I can do the same. There were times in camp I didn’t feel like working out or running, but I thought about my brother, and he motivated me. Just the thought of him being a world champ brought out the best of me in camp.”

— Six opponents, six knockouts. Heavyweight sensation Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson (6-0, 6 KOs) knocked out veteran Rodney Hernandez (13-10-2, 4 KOs) in four rounds, the first time Anderson has been pushed past the third round. Anderson, from Toledo, Ohio, has won three fights inside the “Bubble” since June.

Anderson said, “We’re ready for everybody. We’re building up. Bob {Arum} is moving me perfectly. It was about getting those rounds in and showing I can really box. I’m not just a puncher. I know how to box, and I know how to stay on my back foot.

“I’m listening to the commentators more, getting a lot of learning experiences. It’s helping a lot {with me} taking my time and slowing down.”

—Welterweight Benjamin Whitaker (14-4, 3 KOs) upset the previously undefeated D’Andre Smith (8-1, 5 KOs) via six-round unanimous decision by scores of 60-54 2x and 59-55. Whitaker previously fought in the “Bubble” on June 25, when he dropped a majority decision to Vlad Panin.

— Colombian knockout artist Ruben Cervera (13-2, 11 KOs) picked up his second “Bubble” victory, knocking out New Orleans native Rennard Oliver (7-3-3) in the second round of a scheduled six-round junior lightweight bout. A right hand froze Oliver against the ropes, prompting referee Russell Mora to stop the fight.

— Edward Vazquez (8-0, 1 KO) survived the stiffest test of his career, outlasting Adan Ochoa (11-2, 4 KOs) via unanimous decision (58-55 2x and 57-56) in a six-rounder at featherweight. Ochoa knocked down Vazquez in the second round, but Vazquez won the last four rounds on two of the judges’ cards to pull away.

— In a competitive four-round featherweight tilt, Philadelphia-born prospect Rashiem Jefferson improved to 2-0 with a unanimous decision over Jose Martinez (2-2, 1 KO) by scores of 40-36 2x and 39-37.

Photo: Top Rank Boxing/Mikey Williams

Frampton on Herring: ‘That’s the fight that I want’

Former two-weight world champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton  participated in a Zoom press conference on Wednesday. Frampton, who is currently campaigning at junior lightweight, will make a pit stop at lightweight against Scottish veteran Darren Traynor.

Here is what Frampton and Top Rank chairman Bob Arum had to say.

Carl Frampton:

On the late opponent switch and fighting at lightweight rather than junior lightweight

“Obviously, it was a disaster, the whole lead-up regarding opponents. I have to give MTK Global credit. They assumed there could’ve been {an issue} because of the current situation that the whole world is facing. It turned out Corona didn’t affect anything, but the issue was visa problems for {Vahram} Vardanyan, the original opponent. I think Traynor has been paid by MTK for the last four or five weeks on the chance that this fight may have come about. So, Traynor has been training for me for five weeks. I’ve been training for him for one week.”

On fighting as a lightweight for the first time

It hasn’t really affected me, to be honest. I’ve enjoyed this fight week more than any other because I’ve been doing the weight OK.

“Although I’m short in stature, I walk around about 150, 148 anyway. {Traynor} is probably doing me a favor as well.”

On the Jamel Herring fight

“That’s the fight that I want. We kind of had a date agreed — June 13 was the proposed date, and I think everything was pretty much set to go and the fight was going to happen. And I supposed with it kind of falling away that he wouldn’t be as keen anymore or maybe Top Rank wouldn’t be as keen to make the fight, or the governing body. But everyone seems on board. I want the fight. Jamel wants it. Top Rank and Bob Arum want it. I think that is the plan, to have that fight next.”

On a potential third Leo Santa Cruz fight

“I don’t see that fight ever happening. I think Leo did promise that, but I think, to be honest, he’s full of sh*t. The fight could’ve happened if he wanted it to happen. It never has, and it’s a shame.”

Bob Arum:

On the status of Herring vs. Frampton

“If Jamel is successful {Sept. 5 against Jonathan Oquendo}, and if Carl is successful on Saturday, I have a date picked out in November where they’ll fight for the title. That’s done. Everyone is on board. One thing I can’t control is the virus, but we’re going to do that fight in November. It may very well be another ‘Bubble’ fight.

“If both guys win these interim fights, you can count on a world title fight between Herring and Frampton in November.”

Herring on fight with Oquendo: ‘I feel 10 times better than I did three weeks ago’

WBO junior lightweight world champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring hopes the wait is finally over. Herring, a decorated U.S. Marine veteran from Coram, N.Y., will make his second world title defense Saturday, Sept. 5 against Puerto Rican challenger Jonathan Oquendo at the MGM Grand Conference Center. Herring and Oquendo were scheduled to fight July 2, then July 14, but Herring twice tested positive for COVID-19.

In the 10-round super middleweight co-feature, it’s a battle of the Midwest as Omaha’s unbeaten Steven “So Cold” Nelson takes on Toledo’s DeAndre Ware.

Herring-Oquendo and Nelson-Ware will stream live on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET, with undercard action to stream on ESPN+ beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“Jamel has had a run of bad luck, but his fortunes will change for the better inside the ‘Bubble’ on September 5,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Oquendo is a crafty veteran who understands this may be his last shot at a world title, and I expect him to give ‘The Fighting Marine’ one heck of a fight.”

Herring said, “This postponement is a blessing in disguise because I feel 10 times better than I did three weeks ago. I’m grateful to have another opportunity to get back in the ring. I’ve fully recovered from COVID-19 and I’m more than ready for anything Jonathan Oquendo brings on September 5. Our team has a great game plan and we are eager to carry it out.”

Oquendo said, “I am very happy with finally getting this opportunity to challenge Herring for his world title, as the fight has been canceled twice because of COVID-19. At one point, I thought that maybe the fight was not going to happen, but thanks to God, we are now ready for September 5.

“We are going to win. We are in a very positive mindset. We are going to leave everything in the ring. It’s now or never. It would be a great accomplishment to become world champion at 37. That’s what we are going to do.”

Herring (21-2, 10 KOs) returns following the longest layoff of his career, nearly 10 months since he outpointed the previously unbeaten Lamont Roach Jr. at an outdoor ballpark in Fresno, Calif. Soon after his most recent positive COVID-19 test, he received a clean bill of health and resumed training camp in Omaha, Neb. Oquendo (31-6, 19 KOs) rebounded from a March 2019 decision defeat to Roach to shut out Charles Huerta last September. He is 5-1 since a December 2015 defeat to Jesus Cuellar for the WBA featherweight world title.

Nelson (16-0, 13 KOs), who trains alongside Herring and pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford in Omaha, recently moved down from light heavyweight and is ranked No. 8 by the WBO at super middleweight. He last fought in January, knocking out then-unbeaten prospect Cem Kilic on ESPN. A talented artist who designs his fight night attire— he entered the ring as The Grinch with a Santa hat against Kilic — Nelson hopes to notch his fourth knockout in a row. Ware (13-2-2, 8 KOs), a Toledo firefighter when he’s not fighting in the ring, is two fights removed from a February 2019 decision win over the previously unbeaten Ronald Ellis.

Nelson said, “I’ve been training and staying ready in Omaha with my team. Now it’s time to clock in for overtime. No audience? I don’t need cheers to do my job. I’m focused on the task at hand, which is to defeat DeAndre Ware.”