Jamel Herring did it tonight (as I humbly predicted), upsetting WBO junior lightweight champion Masayuki Ito in ESPN’s main event to take his first world title. Herring (20-2, 10 KOs) put on an impressive boxing performance, picking off the Ito (25-2-1, 13 KOs) at range, and at the end of 12 rounds he took a unanimous decision on two scores of 118-110, and one score of 116-112. I scored the fight similarly, 117-111 in favor of Herring for BLH.
Ito came into this fight known for his good right hand, but that also proved to be his downfall as it was just about the only thing he had. So Ito showed his limitations, telegraphing that right hand all night long, and Herring was just too well prepared to get taken out with that alone.
So Herring began by using a sharp jab to counter over the top on Ito, and as he continued to have success doing so, Ito appeared to get increasingly frustrated and anxious, leaping in behind wide punches that often got him clipped with check hooks from Herring. Herring started to falter in his game plan down the stretch, getting into a slugfest with Ito for periods of time when it was clear that was Ito’s only hope to land a fight changing punch. But Herring’s tainer, Bryan McIntyre, was able to talk Herring into getting back to what worked — namely boxing on the outside.
When doing that, Ito really had no answer, and that was ultimately was the difference maker when it came time to tally the points. In the post-fight press interview fellow 130-pound titleholder Miguel Berchelt was in the ring, asking for a unification bout with Herring. That seems to obviously be in the cards.
CompuBox stats had Herring landing 146 of 528 total punches (27.7%) while Ito landed 99 of 498 total punches (19.9%).
In the main card’s opening bout, former lightweight titleholder Jose Pedraza (26-2, 13 KOs) put on career best performance, thrashing a game Antonio Lozada Jr. (40-3-1, 34 KOs) over nine rounds before forcing a stoppage.
Lozada started the fight strong, pressing and applying non-stop pressure on Pedraza, but by the second round Pedraza started to get his measure. Pedraza would use a lot of lateral movement and seamlessly switched from southpaw to orthodox to keep from giving the taller Lozada a clean target, and then picked him off with clean counters which would accumulate as the rounds wore on.
Pedraza would even adapt Floyd Mayweather’s shoulder roll, allowing Lozada to attack with his back on the ropes so he could roll the punches and counter back. In the ninth round one of those sequences put Lozada on the canvas, and when he got back up Pedraza jumped right back on him with a torrent of punches until Lozada’s father/trainer jump up on the ring to throw in the towel. The official stoppage came at 2:34 of Round 9.
This was probably the best I’ve ever seen Pedraza, who said in the post-fight interview that he would never let a couple of losses define him while he just continued to hone his craft. Pedraza says he’ll now look for another shot at a lightweight title, and he could find himself right back in the mix with a performance like this.
Final CompuBox stats had Pedraza landing 310 of 817 total punches (37.9%) while Lozada landed 150 of 688 total punches (21.8%).