Why Jamel Herring Faces the Most Important Choice of His Career: Stevenson or Valdez
On April 3 in Dubai, Jamel Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) successfully defended the WBO World Junior Lightweight title with a decisive 6th round TKO over Carl Frampton. It was arguably the best performance of his career. In the aftermath of his strong performance, he is now on the minds of boxing fans in a major way. Now the obvious question is, who will he fight next? There are two options. One is a title defense against the WBO mandatory junior lightweight contender, Shakur Stevenson. The second option is to go for a unification match against the WBC 130-pound champion, Oscar Valdez.
Shortly after Herring’s win over Frampton, WBO President Paco Valcarcel announced that Herring must fight the winner of the June 12 contest between Stevenson and Jeremiah Nakathila. Valcarcel also declared that the champ has a 30-day period to commit to a mandatory title defense.
Then there is the prospect of fighting Valdez. If it was Herring’s choice, he would go straight for a unification bout with the WBC champ. During a Twitter exchange with Valdez’s manager, Frank Espinoza, the WBO 130-pound champ is ready and more than willing.
If cash rules, the greater value for both Herring and Valdez would be to fight each other. Just like Herring is coming off a career best win, so is Valdez. His knockout over Miguel Berchelt to win the WBC Junior Lightweight title is still on the mind of the folks. The two camps have had private conversations about a potential match.
Both men are also promoted by Top Rank. On paper, the fight would be relatively easy to make. Their boxing stock is on the rise. Hardcore fans would welcome the showdown. But mandatory obligations are mandatory obligations. If the WBO is steadfast in their ruling, Herring must fight the winner of Stevenson v Nakathila. Should Herring try to seek a fight with Valdez, he risks being stripped of the title.
One key observer is Shakur Stevenson. Ironically, not only is he the mandatory contender by the WBO, but he is also ranked #1 by the WBC. The former WBO 126-pound world champ has gone on record to say he wants his shot at Herring. Many factors must be entertained. While Herring is not old in terms of ring mileage, the reality is he is 35-years-old. In truth, the ex-US Marine only has a small window to make big money. Because of that dynamic, you have to strike while the iron is hot. It will be interesting to see what he and his team decide to do. Stay tuned to 3KingsBoxing to follow this developing and fluid story.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.