Scott Christ (50-18)
I think I’m probably closer to leaning upset than just about anyone is going to be. Shakur Stevenson has not really been tested as a professional. His best win is over Joet Gonzalez, and while Joet is a decent fighter, he also fought about the worst possible fight against Shakur. Other than Gonzalez, Shakur’s best win is Christopher Diaz, who didn’t have the sort of style to challenge Stevenson at all.
You do have to say that Shakur just out-classed those guys, too, because he did. Maybe he really is so skilled that he made both those guys worse than normal, and styles make fights and all that. Shakur’s slick, he’s fast, he’s sharp, and he’s hard to get going against because he’s a very smart young boxer. I think Jamel Herring can give him some tests mentally that others haven’t, because I don’t think Herring will be so easily mentally beaten. But then it comes down to skill set, and I just have a hard time seeing where Jamel beats Shakur.
I think Herring will nick a few rounds but not have an argument in the end. I also don’t think Stevenson will ever come close to forcing a stoppage, and if Top Rank and/or ESPN are still waiting for anything close to an action fighter to emerge with Shakur, I think they’re playing a fool’s game. Eventually, there will be someone to give Stevenson more of a run. Here, I think he wins relatively comfortably. Stevenson UD-12
Wil Esco (54-14)
I’ve probably written this before but I really like the way Jamel Herring carries himself; he’s even-keeled, mild-mannered, and sort of just goes about his business without making too much noise. In that sense it was refreshing to see him sort of re-establish himself once he aligned with Team Crawford. Unfortunately I don’t think Herring’s demeanor is going to make a huge difference in the ring against Stevenson. I have some strong reservations as to how “fan-friendly” this fight is going to be, as I truly expect it to be much more of a tactical battle than a war.
In that sort of fight I’ve got to give Stevenson the edge because he’s younger, fresher, and I think his reflexes are sharper. I’m not expecting Stevenson to really show out in this bout, but from the outside range I think he should be able to outpoint Herring. Herring’s best shot is probably to try to use his experience to lure Stevenson into mid-range fight where I think he’ll have more chances to be successful, but Stevenson has sort of a cautious approach which I think will keep him satisfied at range. I’m going to take Stevenson to win a decision over the distance. Stevenson UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg (55-13)
Jamel Herring is a genuinely admirable fighter, one who ran headlong into a wall and successfully reinvented himself to overcome it. He’s faced inordinate amounts of hardships during his career and remained a consummate, driven professional who remains one of the best in the world at his weight. He’s just not the right man to beat Shakur Stevenson.
That’s not to say that Stevenson is invincible, of course; I think he’d have real trouble with an ultra-gritty pressure fighter who forced him out of cruise control. Herring, unfortunately, is going to give him a boxing match he’s ill-equipped to win. Adept as “Semper Fi” is at utilizing his ridiculous proportions, he’s not so adept that a technician of Stevenson’s caliber can’t find his way into his preferred range and work from there. Herring doesn’t hit hard enough to keep Stevenson honest, either; outside of a perfectly timed uppercut like the ones that destroyed Carl Frampton, Stevenson won’t have to worry about Herring equalizing the technique gap with one shot.
This would be a rough fight for Herring even at his peak. At 35, it’s a wash. Stevenson exerts exactly enough effort to win a comfortable decision, likely failing to entertain in the process. Stevenson UD-12