Jamel Herring is finally officially set to defend his WBO junior lightweight title on Feb. 27, traveling to the United Kingdom to face Carl Frampton, who looks to become a three-division champion if he can lift the belt next month.
It’s a fight that has been in the works since late 2019, and we’re finally getting it. Despite being the titleholder, Herring has to travel, but says he has no issue with that; in fact, Herring told BBC Sport NI that he looks forward to the fight across the pond, and he only wishes it could have been held in front of a typically rowdy crowd.
“The title is world champion,” Herring said. “I want to be that old school, throwback fighter that fought everywhere. It sucks that I can’t experience that European atmosphere, whether it was in Belfast or London. I was a 2012 Olympian, so I did compete in London. I love fights here in the States, but there’s no better atmosphere for a huge fight than the UK or Ireland. That was always my goal.
“My 2012 Olympian teammate, Errol Spence, I kinda envied him when we went over to fight Kell Brook. Even though he was the visitor, the atmosphere was just amazing in that fight, and I wanted to be part of something like that in my own career, in my own right.
“But things happen. It wasn’t Carl’s fault, it wasn’t my fault, we’re going through a pandemic, but I’m just grateful to still have the opportunity to get a big fight on my resume.”
The 35-year-old Herring (22-2, 10 KO) has had a terrific run in his career since moving down to 130 pounds and hooking up with trainer Brian McIntyre, and also signing with Top Rank, who guided him into a shot at Masayuki Ito in May 2019. Herring won a clear decision that night and took the belt, and has made successful defenses against Lamont Roach Jr and Jonathan Oquendo. He did take some criticism in the Oquendo fight last September, winning a DQ, and went through some reflection after it. But he seems back on his game and ready to fight.
The 33-year-old Frampton (28-2, 16 KO) has fought just twice since 2018, beating Tyler McCreary in Nov. 2019 and Darren Traynor in a tune-up lightweight bout last August at York Hall in London. A titleholder at 122 and 126, Frampton hopes to achieve legendary status in Irish boxing — if he hasn’t already, frankly — by winning another world title. He’ll be small in this fight, but he’s a very good fighter, tough and scrappy, and this seems like a really good matchup for both guys on paper, one where it could come down to which man best executes his distinct advantages.
The fight will air on ESPN+ in the United States, and on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.