WBO Jr. Lightweight World Champion Jamel Herring Hits Training Camp, Hopes For July 4 Ring Return

The call couldn’t have come at a better time for Jamel Herring.

Of course, the reigning junior lightweight titlist is in the same predicament as everyone else in boxing, waiting for the sport as a whole to resume in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. A decision was made to hit up training camp, if only for self-maintenance.

That trip now has a purpose, as Herring’s current stay in Omaha, Nebraska will now focus on preparing for a potential stay busy fight this summer in Nevada. The decorated U.S. Marine and 2012 U.S. Olympian from the Coram section of Long Island, New York has hooked up with the stable of boxers under the tutelage of Brian ‘Bomac’ McIntytre, with plans to now prepare for a fight behind closed doors.

“Just in time,” Herring (21-2, 10KOs) told BoxingScene.com of the opportunity to enter training camp on Tuesday. “I was originally coming either way, but only to shake off some rest and stay busy, nothing hard. I think around (last) Thursday, Carl Moretti [vice president of operations for Top Rank] gave me a call, asking if I’d be ready by end of June, early July time frame which gives me a full eight-week camp.

“I didn’t hesitate to jump on it.”

If all goes according to plan, Herring will serve as the first—and for now, the only—male major titlist to return to the ring at a time when fans won’t be allowed in attendance. The sport as a whole all but shut down in mid-March due to the ongoing global health crisis, with Top Rank personally having been forced to postpone at least six shows from March 14 through present day.

The Nevada-based company is in the process of finalizing procedures that would allow for shows to take place but without fans in attendance. The hope is to launch the program in June, airing live on ESPN platforms from a closed-to-public venue in Las Vegas. Top Rank is planning to run 2-3 shows per week, with four fights per event.

Herring was previously eyeing a big showdown versus former two-division titlist Carl Frampton (27-2, 15KOs), with plans for the fight to take place June 13 in Frampton’s hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. That fight will have to be rescheduled, although there is a path for Herring to return to the ring in the interim, whether to make the second defense of his 130-pound title or even to enter a stay-busy fight.

“Jamel Herring is 100% on board,” Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum confirmed to BoxingScene.com, though admittedly unsure of the exact date as this goes to publish. “We couldn’t have been more thrilled when he agreed to step up. Obviously, he won’t be fighting Carl Frampton, that’s a fight that will have to wait until there are no longer any travel restrictions. In the meantime, we’ll get Herring back in the ring over here, maybe Frampton can get (a stay-busy bout) in the United Kingdom and they’ll both be ready for whenever we can reschedule their championship fight.”

All of that sits well with the 34-year old southpaw.

“Though it’s a closed circuit and obviously not Frampton, it gives me the opportunity to stay loose and ready,” notes Herring. “Plus, people who’ve been waiting to see fights again on TV.”

Herring is coming up on one full year as a 130-pound titlist, having claimed the strap in a 12-round win over Japan’s Masayuki Ito. The feat took place on the Saturday prior to Memorial Day live on ESPN from Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida. Herring’s first title defense—a decision victory over unbeaten Lamont Roach Jr.—came last November on a Veteran’s Day-themed ESPN+ show in Fresno, California.

There was no better candidate than Herring to land those patriotic holiday weekends. Given the upcoming schedule for Top Rank bouts to air this summer on ESPN, there exists hope that his next fight could very well continue that trend.

“Judging by the calendar, I can see Top Rank placing me on the 4th of July weekend due to my military background of course,” notes Herring, with Independence Day falling on a Saturday this year. “We shall see.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox