Tomorrow night on ESPN+, Jamel Herring returns to action to make the first defense of his WBO super featherweight title against mandatory challenger Lamont Roach Jr in the main event from Fresno, California.
Our staffers make their picks for the fight.
I don’t think Jamel Herring, although he has a world title, is an elite-level fighter, but I also don’t think Lamont Roach Jr is an elite-level fighter. Herring is 34 to Roach’s 24, so in theory youth should be a notable advantage for Roach, and we’ve seen Herring lose fights to guys about on this level, too.
But Herring has made some real improvements moving down from 135 to 130 under the tutelage of Brian McIntyre. He’s never going to be on the P4P list, but he’s a solid, disciplined fighter, a rangy southpaw, and a real pro. Roach has been a prospect treading water for a while now, and to date he’s never looked as good as he’s been advertised. He got some kind cards in May against Jonathan Oquendo, who is a gatekeeper sort, and fought to a draw with Orlando Cruz in 2018, and Cruz has been repeatedly proven to be a lower second-tier type of fighter.
I do think there’s a decent chance that this is where Roach breaks through a bit, because Herring, again, is not some dominant champion or anything. Roach could win this fight, have a world title, and be the newest very vulnerable WBO super featherweight titleholder. But my gut is telling me that Herring is just an important bit better than Roach at this stage of their careers, that BoMac will have him prepared to use his length and be patient working for the win, and he’ll be prove the better man on this night. I won’t be shocked if Roach wins, but I’m not picking him. Herring UD-12
Jamel Herring is going up against a fighter 10 years his junior, but I think Herring has been experiencing something of a rebirth since aligning himself with Terence Crawford and his training team. Herring seems more focused, revitalized, and is just boxing a better game than he has in the past. The changes have paved way to a title win for Herring over Masayuki Ito in May, and I think Herring keeps his momentum going in this one. Though Roach has 20 fights already, I’m not sure that I really rate him as a potential world titleholder. Of course it’s much easier to grab a belt these days, but Roach is still in the prove-it phase in my estimation. I’m going to take Herring to outpoint him over the distance. Herring UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
Watching Roach’s fight with Oquendo, you couldn’t tell who was supposed to be the A-side, which is not a good look to have against a guy who loses every time he steps up in class. Roach struggled with fairly rudimentary pressure and showed little that screamed “prospect” outside of some solid close-range combination punching.
That doesn’t figure to be especially useful against a solid outboxer like Herring, especially since “Semper Fi” will have three inches of height and two inches of reach on him. Without any sort of punching power to serve as an equalizer, all signs point to a rough night for Roach, who loses his “0” on the end of Herring’s jab. Herring UD-12
Despite being a decade younger than the champion, Roach has done very little to suggest he has the tools to mix it at the next level. He’s remained unbeaten during an underwhelming run of opposition, with a severe lack of power at the junior lightweight limit really holding him back.
Herring’s the bigger, longer, stronger man and has bigger fish to fry with money bigger money fights around the corner. He’s a born fighter and is unlikely to throw away this huge opportunity. Roach is well-versed in fighting southpaws taking on five in his last eight, however, Herring can make this a comfortable night if he keeps Roach at range and on the end of the stiff jab he used so effectively against Ito earlier this year. Herring UD-12