Some Like It Hot: Herring vs Frampton goes down in Dubai Saturday
SAN DIEGO Calif., April 2, 2021 – In boxing, toughness is a given. The heavyweight division champion is frequently called the baddest man on the planet.
I’m here to tell you there’s no one on the planet tougher than a United States Marine.
It’s why Marine Corps veteran and WBO super featherweight champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring of Cincinnati took comments over the way his fugly fight against Jonathan Oquendo ended in September hard. The fight was called a disqualification in Herring’s favor after eight rounds due to repeated headbutts and damage to Herring’s eye in the process.
Never mind that Herring (21-2, 10 KO) was winning a blowout on the scorecards, and never mind his personal history, which makes quitting unfathomable to those who know him. Herring was accused of quitting. He says now it’s in large part why he pressed on with the fight against a tough opponent in Frampton of Northern Ireland (28-2, 16 KOs) with his title at stake after delays and relocation from Belfast to Caesar’s Palace Dubai. The fight airs on ESPN+ with undercards at 2 pm ET/11 am PT, and the main event a time certain at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT. No, you won’t miss March Madness.
The 35-year-old Iraq veteran and US Olympian’s personal story is well known by now. He’s fought and overcome PTSD and the death of his infant daughter Ariyannah to SIDS 12 years ago. He was grinding along as a B-side when he made the switch to Top Rank after two losses. He does what Marines do. He fought his way to the top of the hill.
After fighting on foreign shores for his country, fighting in a ring with rules and a classy opponent like Carl Frampton isn’t intimidating. But Herring does want to prove his mettle and respond to what he called “instructive criticism.”
“I don’t have any doubts with the fight happening in Dubai because I’m a U.S. Marine,” declared Herring. “I’ve fought everywhere, in terms of the battlefield or in the ring. I was willing to face him in Belfast with no issue, in front of thousands of people. I was willing to give him that home-field advantage, because I wanted the fight that bad that I didn’t really care where the fight was at. As long as we had a ring and some gloves, I didn’t care.”
Herring is clear about what he needs to do. “The way I win this fight is just being me, the Jamel that won the world championship. I have to bring that hunger back. I feel like my back is against the wall, even as the champion.”
Frampton traveled to Dubai early to prepare and acclimate to the desert heat. “I gotta expect the best Jamel Herring there’s ever been,” said Frampton. “We look at Jamel’s last performance, he gets a bit of criticism from that, from the media, and from other people. My own performance wasn’t brilliant in my last fight.
“I think both of us need to be a lot better in this fight to come out victorious. I’m prepared to be better. Hopefully, Jamel is as well, and I think it’s going to be a good fight,” said Frampton. He acknowledged people would talk about his hand injury, which caused the last delay, but he dismissed it, saying just a week’s rest made things right.
Fans who complain about non-competitive matchups should be salivating over this one. Frampton entered as the slight favorite, but betting has now swung a slim edge to Herring. Herring says a win would be “career-defining” for him after winning and defending his title.
“We had to successfully defend our title to be considered a real champion. I’m getting to the conversation of, ‘Oh, you want to face the other champions and the other big names,’ and Carl Frampton is a two-division world champion. He has done great things in his career,” said Herring.
Frampton also sees legacy in Saturday’s outcome. “I’m very proud of what I’ve done in my career so far, but the chance to go down as the only ever three-weight world champion from the whole island of Ireland — one of the only British fighters to ever do it as well — you join an absolute elite bunch of global fighters to do that. I want to do that. I’m so determined to make that happen on the night, and personally, it will mean the world to me.”
Prediction: Herring by decision
Frampton made the startling statement earlier this week he would retire if he lost. Boxing culture sees this as one foot in the grave. Fights are won in the mind long before the athletes step in the ring. Herring is driven by proving doubters wrong even more than holding onto the title.
Herring, a southpaw, has a significant height and reach advantage over Frampton. He is by far the bigger man; he can only make 130 pounds through sheer Marine discipline. In an average size, average speed ring, Herring is set up for success.
Frampton’s nagging injuries over recent years add to the mix, and though Frampton is one year younger than Herring, he’s fought 212 hard total rounds to 146 for Herring. We’re calling this one for Herring in a competitive but decisive win over the 12-round distance. Semper Fi.
Undercard features Nietes vs. Carrillo
Tune into the early undercard for the junior bantamweight fight between veteran four-division and Ring Magazine champion Donnie Nietes of the Philippines (42-1-5, 22 KOs, and Pablo Carrillo of Colombia (25-7-1, 16 KOs), 10 rounds for a vacant WBO minor title. Nietes, age 38, hasn’t fought in two years. Carrillo is a solid test for Nietes’ long-awaited comeback. Nietes has been overshadowed by countrymen Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, who recently announced his retirement. It’s a shame. If Nietes has enough left to make a solid run, a win could put him into the exciting super flyweight division mix with Estrada, Gonzalez, Rungvisai, and Cuadras.
Boxing for breakfast: Talented trio live from Tashkent
Uzbekistan has become a hotbed for top boxing talent. Three fighters making a name for themselves abroad return to their homeland to thrill fans early Saturday morning on DAZN. The card begins at 10 am ET/7 am PT live from a sold-out Humo Arena in Tashkent. Put the coffee on, West Coast. It’s worth it.
Murodjon “MJ” Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KOs) defends his WBA and IBF Super Bantamweight titles against Ryosuke Iwasa of Japan (27-3, 17 KOs). Akhmadaliev became the unified champion with a victory over Danny Roman in January 2020. He’s sat out the pandemic year, but the 26-year-old Olympic medalist gets to headline this special card with his Indio, California training partners, and countrymen.
Super lightweight Shakhram Giyasov (10-0, 8 KOs) returns home for his first pro fight at home against Patricio Lopez Moreno of Mexico (28-4, 20 KOs) in the co-main event. Super welterweight Israel Madrimov (6-0, 5 KOs) faces Emmany Kalombo of the Congo (14-0, 14 KOs).
The trio are superstars in Uzbekistan and beyond, with millions of followers on social media. “To give a good fight under the bright lights, that’s what I’m looking forward to. It’s a dream for any fighter to perform at home,” said Akhmadaliev.
“Israil, Shakhram, and I have been together for 15 years. We worked for world amateur rankings and becoming Asian champions, world champions, Olympians. We’ve been together through everything. Now being professional and have the chance to fight in a huge event at home, already being the champion is huge.
“I’m looking forward to showcasing myself which is important to my countrymen, family and friends. I look forward to bringing the attention of the boxing world to Uzbekistan.”
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is a veteran boxing observer and award-winning journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.