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Ito vs Herring: Staff picks and predictions

Masayuki Ito defends the WBO super featherweight title against Jamel Herring on Saturday.

Matt Roberts/Getty Images | Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Tomorrow night on ESPN (10:00 pm ET), Masayuki Ito defends the WBO super featherweight title in the main event against Jamel Herring. Here are the BLH staffers’ picks for the fight.

Scott Christ

Jamel Herring is a good dude and a solid pro fighter, and what I really admire about his career recently is that he lost a couple times at 135, but he didn’t throw up his hands or complain, at least not that I saw, he just went, “What can I do differently?” So he got the idea to try to move down in weight to 130 and see how he’d fare there. This came with two other shifts — a move to Top Rank and a move to training with Brian McIntyre. He’s had three fights and looked good below lightweight. I’m not saying Juan Pablo Sanchez, John Vincent Moralde, or Adeilson dos Santos are world-beaters or Great Wins, but Herring looked comfortable, fresh, and sharp.

Ito is, on paper, the better and more accomplished fighter, certainly deserves to be ranked higher and all that. But there’s nothing that Ito does that’s particularly special, either. He’s a good basic fighter, but a basic fighter, the type of guy who can be beaten by the right opponent having the right night, executing the right game plan. There’s something about Jamel Herring in this matchup that I just like — maybe him being a tall southpaw, maybe just that I like Jamel in general. I’m calling for the upset in a competitive fight. Herring MD-12

Wil Esco

There’s probably a lot of reasons to like Masayauki Ito’s chances in this fight against Jamel Herring, but I think Herring is going to bring a different physical dimension to this fight than the Japanese fighter is used to. I’m not like in love with Herring or anything, but I think he has more experience against different styles. I’m also thinking his recent move down in weight and moving to Terence Crawford’s trainer has done him some good. Herring can bang a little on the inside, probably even better as of late, and he has some decent boxing ability at range. At the time of writing this I don’t even know the odds — I presume Ito will be installed as the favorite — but I just see this as a fight where Herring can steal a win on a gritty performance. Herring SD-12

Patrick L. Stumberg

The ideal outcome for me is Herring beating Ito, because if he no longer has the title chase to occupy him, there’s always the possibility that he could shift his focus to older grievances. As a professional, however, I can’t allow my personal well-being to influence my analysis. Herring has fallen short against sub-elite competition before and only got this opportunity via sanctioning body chicanery.

I’m not going to lie and say I’ve done in-depth research on their respective fighting styles. Or slight-depth research. Or any research, really, unless you count skimming BoxRec and reading other people’s fight recaps. Maybe Herring has some silver bullet for Ito’s game. Maybe Ito doesn’t know how to deal with guys who are taller than him. If you expect me to put in the effort to find out, well...

You’d be justified, actually, seeing as I’m technically supposed to be an analyst. But I’m going to put on my “Humble MMA Reporter” hat and say Ito wins because “intangibles.” Ito UD-12

Lewis Watson

I love it when the lower weight classes throw up these true 50/50s. The type of fights that you could repeat five times over, getting a different result type on each of the five occasions. Predicting these type of fights is comparable to chucking a cocktail of thoughts at the wall, seeing what sticks; pointless and messy, haunting you with a pungent smell for weeks. But here goes.

The difference for me is the mindset of the challenger, Herring. Despite having the crowd behind him in Kissimmee, Florida, and the benefits of working a camp with pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford, the 33-year-old challenger has twice gone to the well, and twice come up dry against Shafikov and Miller. Ito’s wins against Diaz and Chuprakov hold him in good stead for this second title defence at 130 pounds, with the Japanese titlist looking strong and powerful at the weight. Ito hasn’t faced a southpaw in two years, and with a natural height advantage, Herring has enough to force this to a tight decision on the cards. The bookies have Herring as the odds on favourite, however, the value holds with the champion. Ito SD-12

And the staff winner is...

We have a draw (2-2)!

Bad Left Hook will have live coverage of Ito vs Herring on Saturday night, starting at 10 pm ET on ESPN, with prelim coverage beginning at 6:30 pm ET on ESPN+

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