LIVE: Jamel Herring vs Shakur Stevenson live stream on FITE TV & ESPN+
By Chris Williams: WBO super featherweight champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring will be defending against his mandatory challenger Shakur Stevenson tonight LIVE on ESPN & ESPN Deportes at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) finds himself as the underdog in the eyes of many boxing fans against the undefeated #1 WBO Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), but he doesn’t care. It’s all fuel to motivate the Marine to fight harder to prove the doubters wrong.
It’s challenging to make a pick for the Herring-Stevenson fight because Stevenson, 24, has little experience against top-level opposition, and he could fall apart.
Stevenson was booed by the fans in his last fight against Jeremia Nakathila in their World Boxing Organization 130-lb title eliminator.
Rather than fighting hard and trying to score a knockout, Shakur fought in a safety-first style despite knocking Nakathila down in the fourth round.
Once Shakur got a taste of Nakathila’s power early on, he chose to focus on fighting defensively and bored the crowd at ringside at home with his performance.
Herring won’t let Shakur get comfortable
“I feel at the beginning, it’ll be a chess match, but I know that due to the way he fights if you allow it to go that way, he’s [Shakur] going to be comfortable,” said Herring to Bluemoon Boxing.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to step up your element and make it from a boxing match to a dogfight. Those are things we worked on during camp. It’s going to be interesting.
“There’s a lot of factors at play in this fight, but I think we have a formula and a remedy that can possibly be presented in this fight.
“They go off his potential, but I know I’ve been in a lot of tough battles and wars throughout my career,” said Herring about the oddsmakers and fans picking Stevenson to win.
“It’s still going to be an interesting and fight. I’m just happy we’re here with no postponements or setbacks.
“It’s nothing personal. It’s not like we’re the worst of enemies of having bad blood because we have seen Shakur say worst about past opponents,” said Herring to Fighthype on whether Stevenson has been trash-talking him and trying to intimidate during the build-up to their fight.
It would be a good idea for Herring to be ready to chase Stevenson if he starts fighting in the same safety-first manner that we saw in his fights with Joet Gonzalez and Nakathila.
When Stevenson fights like that, he’s just trying to do the minimum to win an ugly decision. His last fight was virtually unwatchable with the defensive style that he used.
If Top Rank promoter Bob Arum thought Gullermo Rigondeaux had a boring style, you got to wonder what he thinks about how Stevenson fights?
Herring sparred Stevenson in 2017
“Back in 2017, we [Shakur] only sparred like twice,” Herring said. “It wasn’t like intense sparring. It was like working. That was when he was just coming out of the Olympics. He was just turning pro at that time.
“I always give Shakur his credit no matter how people may think of how we are now. Shakur is a really good fighter. I don’t dwell so much on the past, even my own past. I don’t even look at the Frampton fight because he’s a totally different fighter than Frampton, but I just believe in my team. We’re working on a game plan.
“You got to be smart, and you got to be alert at all times with him [Shakur], especially a young and hungry. He wants something that I have [WBO 130-lb title], and there’s more that I want to achieve at this stage.
“There’s still a lot of great things to achieve within this weight class alone. It’s a big fight for both of us. We got to see what he [Stevenson] brings out because he can box also.
“He’s boxed taller guys before, and he’s outboxed them. So, I can’t really say he’s going to be the aggressor or if he’s going to be defensive.
“We’ve got to go off what we’re given at the time, and we’re working on multiple different game plans because he has a lot of different dimensions to his arsenal,” Herring said.
Whatever happened during the sparring session between Herring and Stevenson four years ago in 2017, it won’t have any bearing on Saturday’s fight.
Both fighters have changed a lot since then, and it’s a different situation without headgear and lighter gloves.
Oscar Valdez on Herring’s target list
“I still want to fight him,” said Herring about Oscar Valdez. “He’s got two things that I need. One is his title [WBC super featherweight belt], and two, I want to be the lineal champion.
“As long as we have strict testing from start to finish of training, I’m fine with that. Yeah, I want to fight Valdez, but we have to approach it the right way.
“We’ve got to put stipulations in there that’s fair. Not only fair, but the rules are being followed. I’m human. I’d still like to fight him. Also, after his last fight, he thinks Shakur is going to win this weekend.
“So, I have some more motivation to go out there [and win]. I’ve got more motivation to seal the deal this weekend to prove him wrong as well,” said Herring.
If Herring is going to fight WBO 130-lb champion Oscar Valdez, he might need to make sure he takes the fight to a neutral venue if he wants to make sure he can win a decision.
Valdez’s controversial 12 round decision over Robson Conceicao on September 10th was a highly questionable victory in Tucson, Arizona.
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