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.”

Ramirez-Postol set for August 29

Ramirez-Postol, Take 3! The long-awaited showdown between WBC/WBO junior welterweight world champion Jose Ramirez and former world champion and WBC mandatory challenger Viktor “The Iceman” Postol will take place at the MGM Grand Conference Center Saturday, August 29.

Ramirez and Postol were set to fight February 2 in China and May 9 in Fresno, Calif., but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both were subsequently canceled. This time, they will enter the “Bubble.

In the 10-round junior welterweight co-feature, unbeaten contender Arnold Barboza Jr., from South El Monte, Calif., will fight Canadian veteran Tony “Lightning” Luis in his toughest test to date. Ramirez-Postol and Barboza-Luis will stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 10 p.m ET, with undercard action to stream live at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“Jose has stayed in the gym with his great trainer, Robert Garcia, throughout the pandemic,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “I have no doubt we will see the best version of Jose Ramirez, a wonderful young man and one of the world’s best fighters. He will need to be on his game because Postol is a worthy contender who has proven himself at the world-class level.”

Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) enters the fight coming off a career-high 13-month layoff. Last July, he knocked out Maurice Hooker to unify the WBC and WBO titles and stake his claim as the world’s best 140-pounder. Since winning the vacant WBC title against Amir Imam in March 2018, Ramirez defeated the previously undefeated Antonio Orozco, top contender Jose Zepeda and Hooker. The Orozco and Zepeda title defenses took place in front of more than 10,000 fans at Fresno’s Save Mart Center, a short drive from his hometown of Avenal.

During the early stages of the pandemic, Ramirez teamed up with Central Valley community leaders to assist the region’s agricultural workers. With Ramirez leading the way, they donated essential supplies and more than 1,000 wellness boxes, which included N95 masks, paper towels, toilet paper, rice, masa, beans and hand sanitizer. Ramirez now turns his focus to Postol (31-2, 12 KOs), a former WBC world champion whose only two losses have come against current IBF/WBA junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor and pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford. Postol has won two bouts since the Taylor defeat, most recently topping Mohamed Mimoune via decision last April in Las Vegas.

“I’m excited to finally be back. It’s always an honor stepping into the ring, fighting a guy like Postol and defending my belts,” Ramirez said. “God knows that my goal is to become the undisputed champion, and this gets me one step closer to my goal.”

Postol said“I’m just looking forward to fighting. I’m coming to win those world titles. I have been training since this fight was first announced, so I’m focused and ready to go.”

Barboza Jr. (23-0, 10 KOs) makes his 2020 debut following a 2019 campaign that saw him climb the world rankings with three statement-making wins. He knocked out former world champion Mike Alvarado on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Anthony Crolla undercard at Staples Center, stopped veteran Ricky Sismundo in four rounds at Banc of California Stadium, and scored a body shot knockout over William Silva last November in Las Vegas. Barboza is currently ranked eighth by the WBC and 10th by the WBO at 140 pounds.

“Tony Luis is as tough as they come. He won’t lay down for me. He sees this as a big opportunity, and I can’t let him take it,” Barboza said. “To be honest, the whole no fans thing, I’m more curious than anything. I’ve fought in front of limited fans deep on undercards before. Once you’re in the ring, there’s no difference. I am happy to be part of this ‘Bubble’ experience because it will go down in history.”

Luis (29-3, 10 KOs), from Cornwall, Canada, is a volume puncher with a knack for upsetting undefeated fighters. Since 2014, he has taken the ‘0’ from three then-unbeaten prospects, including a nationally televised decision over Karl Dargan in January 2015. Luis has won 10 consecutive fights since an April 2015 decision loss to Derry Matthews for an interim lightweight world title in Matthews’ hometown of Liverpool, England.

Luis said, “I want to thank Top Rank and my promoter, Liveco Boxing, for this amazing opportunity. I’m proud of myself for not giving up throughout all the uncertainty over the past several months. I knew this pandemic would be a test of character, and I forced myself to stay dedicated, knowing that if an opportunity arose, I’d be ready to strike. I have not lost in over five years, I’m in the best shape in my life, and I feel that Arnold Barboza Jr. is the perfect opponent to showcase my skills and take my career to the next level. Everyone dreams of fighting in Las Vegas. On August 29, my dream will come true, and I plan to make the most of this opportunity. For a small-town kid, we proved a lot of people wrong. Let’s get it on.”

Arum on Stevenson: ‘He is a future pound-for-pound superstar’

Shakur Stevenson and boxing came back with a bang on Wednesday night. The WBO featherweight world champion, who was making his super featherweight debut, knocked out Puerto Rican contender Felix Caraballo in the sixth round of a scheduled 10-rounder at MGM Grand Conference Center—Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas.

Stevenson showcased his talents in the first significant boxing card in the United States since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

A body shot spelled the end for Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KOs), who had won five in a row before tonight. For Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), the sky remains the limit. 

Everything about this fight week was different. After my last fight was canceled, I was happy to showcase my skills for all of the boxing fans,” Stevenson said. “He hit me with a couple shots, more than I’m used to, a couple jabs here and there. He was a tough guy, but I felt great in there after my training camp in Houston.”

This was a nice tune-up for Stevenson. It was an opportunity to get in some rounds, and a chance to test himself at a new weight. According to his promoter, Bob Arum, the 22-year-old Stevenson has a very bright future.

“What a magnificent performance by Shakur Stevenson,” Arum said. “He keeps on getting better, and rest assured, he is a future pound-for-pound superstar.”

Stevenson is special, and based on what we have seen thus far in his career, he can be one of the best in the sport. It should be interesting to see if he goes back down to 126 or stays at 130. All that will probably depend on the opportunities that are out there.

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing

Navarrete: ‘I have always tried to make the unification fights happen’

WBO junior featherweight king Emanuel Navarrete is the world’s busiest world champion, a 25-year-old pressure fighter who is proud to represent his Mexican heritage at the sport’s highest level. From May 2019 to February 2020, when he knocked out Jeo Santisima on the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury II card, he defended his world title five times.

The activity kept him sharp and in the spotlight, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and the recovery process from an injured right had, Navarrete is taking a breather.

From his home in Mexico, the “Mexican Iron Man” recently spoke with Lupe Contreras. This is what he had to say.

On dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic

“This is really complicated for me. Like you just mentioned, I’m constantly working and fighting, and all of a sudden, the pandemic arrives, and we had to put the brakes on because I was used to fighting every two months. Right now, I would’ve been in the hardest stage of my preparation for my next bout, but we are dealing with the pandemic. I haven’t let it affect me that much because I fought like 15 to 20 days before the pandemic started, but the way I was fighting, it was going to be complicated to stay as active. Like I said, at this moment I would’ve been in the final stage of my preparation, and it’s just not that way. Right now, everything is very calm. I’ve installed a few machines just to have a gym at home. I’m maintaining my conditioning, so I can be ready whenever we get back to the ring. I’ll be ready to face any fighter.”

On fighting underneath the Wilder-Fury II main event

“It was a dream come true for me. It was always one of my goals to fight in an event that big. I still think that I could be the co-main event to an event like that, but taking into consideration that I only have been champion for a year, and I’ve already been part of such a big event as Wilder vs. Fury II, I think it puts me in a great position in boxing. I feel happy because, like I said, one of my goals was to fight in an event like that, and I did after just a year as champion. That was iconic. I feel happy because that was my fifth title defense, and I did it on a PPV. That was personally a special moment in my journey as champion. We feel very proud, happy and satisfied of what we have represented in my time as a champion.”

On the status of his injured right hand

“Look, the truth is I couldn’t perform at 100 percent like I’m used to. I couldn’t perform as well, but thanks to God, everything came out well. We did the work. We won the fight. I believe that chasing the knockout, even in that condition, it personally gave me the confidence. Maybe I thought that I couldn’t do it, but I did it. The recovery was a little bit complicated because going to therapy and being in recovery, I don’t like it that much. It’s tough because I rarely get injured, but this time I got injured, and it was a little bit more severe because I had to go to therapy. It was complicated.

“Look, I really didn’t have anything scheduled, but even if I had something, I would’ve declined any event after the fight because of the injury. This is something that is a priority because I depend on my hands to keep on boxing and to perform well the way I’ve been doing it. There is no point in going into a fight while I’m injured. That’s why I would’ve declined to fight in any event after my last fight.”

On proving people wrong when he defeated Isaac Dogboe to win the title

“The only ones that have always really believed in me and motivated me were my team. That is my head coach, his son who is my second trainer, my mom, and my dad. All the others thought that it was great that I was going to be fighting for a title, but I felt that they didn’t believe in me 100 percent. The key was that I always trained for a victory. I never thought that I was going to lose or that it was good that I was going for a title. A lot of them told me that I was going to the United States but that I was going there to lose. ‘You are going for the world title. You are going to enjoy it, but you are going to lose.’ The answer or the comment always was that, ‘You are going to lose, they are going to rob you, or whatever, but you are going to lose,’ and I told them that I was going to win. My team always thought that we were coming for a victory. We never thought that I was going to lose. My preparation gave us a lot of confidence. I prepared in Tijuana, and the time I was there, I was focused and always thinking about a victory. We never thought negatively. We were always positive. I enjoyed winning that way because I showed a lot of people that were saying that I couldn’t do it, that I did do it, and I brought the world title to Mexico.”

On his confidence as a world champion

“I knew that obviously we work hard for certain things and certain goals. The moment that Bob Arum mentioned I felt like one of the stars in boxing or one of the most important champs in boxing… because representing my country on such an iconic date and in Las Vegas, it’s something a lot of people can’t say that they have done. When they gave me the opportunity to do it, it helped me a lot with my confidence because I knew that they were trusting me, that they wanted to see me for a reason. It gave me confidence because I have always thought that I must put on a good show for the people. They are the ones that choose who are the stars.”

On his rapid rise through the boxing ranks

“I believe that we have done a lot of good things in a short amount of time. I see it that way. The fans are used to watching me fight because I’ve been fighting constantly. I did five title defenses in nine months. That’s fighting every month and a half or every two months at the most. Seeing me fight constantly created that connection and love with the fans. That’s what I think. Also, I have said it, and I keep saying it because it takes me a lot. There are times that I have the fight figured out, and it becomes easy for me to get the victory. I could cruise like we say in boxing, but I’m always going for the knockout. Always! It doesn’t matter if my hands are hurt. It hasn’t happened yet, but even if I suffer a cut, or talking negatively, having my worst moment in a fight, I would still be looking to drop my opponent and go for the knockout. I believe the fans appreciate that even if I could cruise to get a victory, I always try to knock out my opponents.”

On the support from the fans and his promoters

“I’ve always wanted to unify titles, and you have seen that I’ve never declined any fight. I have always tried to make the unification fights happen. They haven’t happened, but it’s not because I don’t want them, or that I don’t have the interest, or that I couldn’t do them. It really is because there are a lot of things in between. And I’m OK with that because I have looked for those fights. If the unification fights haven’t happened, it’s because the other parties don’t want them. The other sides have never reached out to me, and there has never being any interest on their part.”

On the future

“If we get through this {pandemic} quickly, and there is interest from the Japanese fighter (Naoya Inoue), I believe it will be easier to make a fight with him than with any other fighter at 122. But it’s like I just mentioned. There is no interest from their part. He really did what he wanted at 118 and then he sent out a release saying that he was going to move up to 122, my division. When he did it, I saw the possibility of fighting him because he signed with Top Rank, but after that, he said he was going to face Johnriel Casimero. They were supposed to face each other in April. I don’t know if it will happen, but if it happens, it will have to be right after we get through the pandemic. It would have to happen right away because the truth is that I’m seriously thinking of moving up to 126, and the only thing that could keep me at 122 would be a big fight against Inoue or a possible unification against one of the champions. That is the reality of why I would stay around at 122. If it’s not that way, I will move up to 126.”

Stevenson-Marriaga, Conlan-Preciado postponed

Here is a statement from Top Rank Boxing on the postponement of Stevenson-Marriaga and Conlan-Preciado:

“After close consultation with the New York State Athletic Commission, it has been determined that Saturday’s and Tuesday’s events cannot proceed in light of the ongoing Coronavirus crisis. Top Rank will work with the Commission to reschedule the events as soon as it is safe for all involved. 

“The health and safety of the fighters and their teams, and everyone involved in the promotion of these events, necessitated taking this step.

“We thank everyone for their understanding, and we will continue to work with our broadcast/venue partners and state and local officials to decide when the time is right to return.”

Crawford: ‘You don’t hear ‘wrong side of the street’ with any other fighter but Terence Crawford’

Pound-for-pound king and WBO welterweight world champion Terence “Bud” Crawford returns to Madison Square Garden Saturday evening (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) as the headliner for the card of the year, a three-headed monster that will follow the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) will make the third defense of his welterweight crown against No. 1 contender Egidijus “Mean Machine” Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs), Richard Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) will defend his IBF lightweight world title against unbeaten sensation Teofimo Lopez (14-0, 11 KOs) and Michael Conlan (12-0, 7 KOs) hopes to gain revenge on former 2016 Russian Olympic nemesis Vladimir Nikitin (3-0, 0 KOs).

The ESPN+ undercard (5:45 p.m. ET) will feature Bronx-born super lightweight Josue Vargas (15-1, 9 KOs) against Noel Murphy (14-1-1, 2 KOs) and Brooklyn-born knockout artist Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga (12-0, 12 KOs), who has never seen the second round as a pro, against the durable Cesar Nunez (16-1-1, 8 KOs) in an eight-round super middleweight showdown.

At Tuesday’s media workout, this is what Crawford had to say:

Terence_Crawford_shadowbox.JPG

On the pressure of being a top pound-for-pound fighter

“It’s a blessing because it motivates me and adds fuel to the fire. I like proving people wrong. That’s more joy for me.”

“{New York} is one of the big stages. Vegas is a big stage. I do my thing in the ring, and every time I fight, I send a message to all the welterweights out there.”

“Everyone poses a threat. {Kavaliauskas} is a good fighter. He is a two-time Olympian for a reason. He’s undefeated, strong and hungry.”

On his popularity in Omaha now

“It’s the same. I’ve been the around the city since my amateur days. Some people want a picture, others shake my hand and say, ‘What’s up?’

“When I was at 140, everybody criticized me and said I was too big for 140. When I was at 140, everyone said I was too big for 135. If I was to go back down to 140, what would everybody say? I’m picking and bullying people. There you have it.”

On “sides of the street” in boxing

“Well, Deontay Wilder is about to fight Tyson Fury and you never hear about any ‘sides of the street.’ It’s just something people say when it comes to Terence Crawford. You don’t hear ‘wrong side of the street’ with any other fighter but Terence Crawford. Why do all these other fights get made, but when it’s Terence Crawford, it’s about the ‘wrong side of the street?'”

Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing

Stevenson-Gonzalez, Berchelt-Sosa, Herring-Roach Jr. highlight Top Rank’s Fall Schedule

Three world title bouts and a highly anticipated light heavyweight unification fight are on the docket for Top Rank’s fall schedule, which will be unveiled TODAY at 12 p.m. PT at a special kickoff press conference at the MGM Grand’s KA Theatre.

The fall schedule will kick off October 18 with the previously announced light heavyweight unification bout between IBF champion Artur Beterbiev and WBC champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET). The entire undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.

“This is a tremendous lineup of fights that Top Rank is bringing to ESPN and ESPN+ in the fall,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “You have young superstars and established champions in the toughest fights of their careers. It doesn’t get better than that. When it’s all said and done, new superstars are going to emerge.”

October 26: Stevenson and Gonzalez to Battle for Featherweight World Title

Shakur Stevenson is only 22 years old and 12 fights into his pro career. For his first world title shot, he’ll return to the sight of many of his greatest amateur accomplishments. Stevenson will face Joet Gonzalez for the vacant WBO featherweight title Saturday, October 26 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.

Stevenson and Gonzalez are the WBO’s top two contenders for the belt vacated by Oscar Valdez, who is now campaigning at 130 pounds.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Let’s Get It On Promotions and Golden Boy, Stevenson-Gonzalez and a co-feature will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The entire undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

“I have been working for this moment my entire life, and no one is going to stop me from becoming a world champion,” Stevenson said. “I had some of my biggest amateur moments in Reno, and I can’t wait to win my first world title there. This is my time to show the world that I am the best young fighter in boxing. The Shakur Stevenson era will officially begin on October 26.”

“It’s about time I got my world title shot,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been asking for this opportunity for a long time. Thanks to my promoter and manager, it is finally here. Shakur Stevenson has done a lot of talking. But I’ll do my talking in the ring with my fists on October 26.”

Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs), the fighting pride of Newark, New Jersey, turned pro in April 2017 following a standout amateur career that included a 2016 Olympic silver medal for the United States. He is familiar with Reno, having won four national titles in “The Biggest Little City in the World” from 2013-2015, including his triumph at the Olympic Trials. Stevenson returned to Reno as a pro, shutting out Juan Tapia over eight rounds in February 2018 to improve to 5-0. He has fought three times thus far in 2019, including a career-best performance April 20 against former world title challenger Christopher Diaz on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan pay-per-view undercard. He followed up the unanimous decision over Diaz with a triumphant return to Newark, where more than 5,000 fans packed the Prudential Center for his third-round stoppage over Alberto Guevara.

Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs) is a seven-year pro who has the edge in experience, and at 25 years old, is three years older than Stevenson. Like Stevenson, he had a storied amateur career, nearly qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics and winning a U.S. Junior Olympics title. Gonzalez has won three consecutive bouts by knockout since a split decision victory over former world title challenger Rafael Rivera. He last fought July 13 in Carson, California, capturing the WBO Global and WBA Continental America featherweight titles with a sixth-round stoppage over Manuel Avila. Immediately following the Avila bout, he expressed interest in fighting in Stevenson, and the two have since been engaged in a social media back-and-forth. The talking will stop — and the fight will start — on October 26.

November 2: Miguel Berchelt Set to Defend Super Featherweight World Title Versus Jason Sosa

WBC super featherweight world champion Miguel Berchelt will defend his world title for the sixth time against former world champion Jason Sosa in a can’t-miss battle Saturday, November 2 at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

Berchelt, who has won four in a row by stoppage, is the division’s longest-reigning world champion and is ranked No. 1 by both ESPN.com and Ring Magazine.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions and Peltz Boxing, Berchelt-Sosa and a world title co-feature will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT

“On November 2, there will be another classic war between a Mexican and a Puerto Rican warrior,” Berchelt said. “I will prove once again that I am the best and most spectacular super featherweight in the world. This title ain’t going anywhere.”

“I can’t express how happy and grateful I am to Top Rank and Russell Peltz for once again working together to give me another shot at becoming world champion,” Sosa said. “I am training harder than ever. I want this so bad, and I am not going to let anything stop what God has planned for me. We are incredibly focused knowing the importance of this fight. Berchelt is a strong opponent, and we are not taking his talents lightly. We both throw a lot of punches so expect an action-packed fight that will be the next chapter in the Mexico versus Puerto Rico rivalry. It’s a rivalry that’s been ongoing for years, and I plan on making my island very proud. On November 2, I plan on becoming a two-time world champion.”

Berchelt (36-1, 32 KOs) has reigned as WBC super featherweight king since January 28, 2017, the evening he dethroned Francisco Vargas via 11th-round knockout in a Fight of the Year contender. He has maintained his reputation as an all-action star, besting Miguel Roman and Takashi Miura in dominant title defenses. He last fought May 11 in Tucson, Arizona, battering Vargas in their rematch until Vargas retired on his stool following the sixth round. A native of Cancun, Mexico, Berchelt has won 15 consecutive bouts and hopes a win over Sosa will move him closer to a world title unification bout.

Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KOs), from Camden, New Jersey, is in the midst of a career revitalization following a two-bout skid in 2017. Sosa has reeled off three consecutive wins since a controversial decision loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa in November 2017, and he is now ranked in the top 10 by two of the major sanctioning organizations. He last fought August 10 in Philadelphia, knocking out Lydell Rhodes in seven rounds to earn his shot at the title.

November 9: Jamel Herring Set for Ballpark Title Defense Versus Lamont Roach Jr. in Fresno

Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring, the U.S. Marine veteran who upset Masayuki Ito in on Memorial Day weekend to win the WBO junior lightweight title, is set to honor his comrades by returning on Veterans Day weekend.

Herring will make his first title defense against the undefeated Lamont Roach Jr. on Saturday, November 9 at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, home of the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies. This is a return engagement for Herring, who fought at Fresno’s Save Mart Center last September and had more than 1,000 active, retired and aspiring service members in the crowd cheering him on.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Golden Boy, Herring-Roach and a co-feature will stream live beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on ESPN+. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.

“Our camps have gone back and forth, and I’m just ready to get to work,” Herring said. “I have a great team, and Terence Crawford will also be in camp to make sure I’m at my best. Overall, the night means much more than trash-talking, since it’s the weekend of both Veterans Day and the Marine Corps birthday.

“I’m glad to be back in Fresno. I had a huge crowd supporting me last time I fought in the area. I know a victory here will lead to bigger and better things.”

“I know Jamel very well and he knows me,” Roach Jr. said. “I’m super excited, and I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life. This victory will be only the beginning of my legacy. I’m here for a reason, and I can’t wait to show the world why! I will be the WBO junior lightweight world champion on November 9.”

Herring (20-2, 10 KOs) served two tours of duty with the Marines in Iraq and captained the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team. His pro career stalled with a 1-2 skid from 2016-2017, but after signing with Top Rank and moving down to 130 pounds, he won three straight fights to earn the title shot against Ito. His September 2018 fight against John Vincent Moralde was a particularly special occasion, as dozens of Marines lined the Save Mart Center walkway as Herring made his entrance. He shut out Moralde as the ESPN-televised co-feature, and now he returns to California’s Central Valley ready to put on a clinic under the lights.

Roach (19-0-1, 7 KOs) is one of the best young fighters to emerge from the boxing hotbed of Washington, D.C. in recent years. His only hiccup as a pro — an April 2018 draw against Orlando Cruz in Cruz’s home country of Puerto Rico — was a minor speed bump in what has been an otherwise sterling run up the ranks. He is 3-0 since the Cruz fight, winning a pair of regional belts and putting forth his best performances on high-profile cards. He last fought May 4 on the Canelo Alvarez-Danny Jacobs undercard in Las Vegas, scoring a 10-round unanimous decision over former world title challenger Jonathan Oquendo. Roach is trained by his father, Lamont Roach Sr., who has been the head man in his corner for his past five bouts.