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Herring-Oquendo Bout Ends In Controversial Fashion, Intentional Butt Gives Herring the W

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It maybe sounds too fancy to lump what we saw in the main event Saturday night at the MGM and on ESPN+ an installment of “the theater of the unexpected.”

Theater, it was harsher than that, that phrasing doesn’t properly suggest the violence that played out in the Jamel Herring-Jonathan Oquendo clash atop the Top Rank promotion.

After eight rounds, the 34 year old Herring went to his corner, wincing. His right eye was bloodied, he blinked hard, his face told you that it was bothering him. He communicated, low key, to trainer Brian McIntyre that the eye was messed up. The ref was right there, Tony Week heard it, heard the doc pressing Herring how bad that eye felt. It wad clear, this bout was maybe going to be halted. And then confusion kicked in, because Weeks would have to step up, as that sole arbiter of the fight in such a critical juncture.

That’s because in round five, the 37 year old Oquendo’s head hit the eye of Herring, and caused a cut.

Oquendo led with the head a bunch on Sept. 5, and Herring felt the effects of the skull shots. (Photos by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)

Right then, Weeks took a point, and told the Nevada commission crew ringside that he was calling the butt intentional. Yes, he took a point, he didn’t disqualify Oquendo in the fifth, because Herring fought on. The 130 pound campaigner didn’t complain that he couldn’t see, he stood in that pocket, and tried as best he could to answer Oquendo, who looked at times like was just a bit more comfortable with a degree of ugliness we saw on display than Herring was.

And when Weeks after the eighth heard Herring, and heard the doc, he pulled that plug, and started up a debate. What is the result this finish calls for?

Weeks talked to Bob Bennett, the day to day Nevada commission boss. And Bennett talked to his crew, and a couple minutes passed. It looked like Bennett was going to rule that we’d go to the scorecards. Viewers heard Joe Tessitore, Tim Bradley and Andre Ward dissect the action, and the ending.

Tessitore was the first to vocalize  what the rules of the Association of Boxing Commissions regulations suggest should guide the oversight officials. The ABC regs state that “if an intentional foul causes an injury and the bout is allowed to continue, and the injury results in the bout being stopped in any round after the fourth (4th) round, the injured boxer will win by TECHNICAL DECISION if he is ahead on the score cards.” Also, “if the referee feels that a boxer has conducted himself in an unsportsmanlike manner, he may stop the bout and disqualify the boxer.”

While we watched the players in the rule, and heard the fight callers dissect and debate, we looked at Herring, and could only speculate what he was thinking, what he was feeling. The Iraq vet has never struck us as a quitter, which is what we saw some say on social media, and what we heard Tim Bradley basically label him after that strange ending.

And then the decision was shared…Your winner is Jamel Herring, emcee Mark Shunock said, based on Weeks’ deciding that “disqualification” was called for. That wasn’t how it looked or sounded as we watched the ending and the debate period after. But our eyes and ears didn’t catch all the back and forth ringside, among the officials.

Herring indicated that his eye was compromised…The eye looked in bad shape after an Oquendo butt rounds before…and we’d have thought that the judges’ scores to that point would have been added up, and if Herring was ahead, he’d get the W, if he was behind and the score was even, a technical draw would be the call.

This one will be debated into Sunday, and Monday, and beyond, because of the intricacies I just laid out. And also because Tim Bradley especially took hard aim at Herring, and called him out, told viewers that Herring “wanted out.” He said this: “Real eye realize…he wanted out.” Too harsh, perhaps…

Bradley has critiqued Herring quite matter of factly prior to this, as well.

People will weigh in, and decide whether they think Bradley was right in being so direct, in taking the inventory of a man who has not publicly ever given cause to be labeled a “quitter.”

Here is the release Top Rank sent out after the event:

LAS VEGAS (September 5, 2020) — Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring made up for the COVID-related postponements, defending his WBO junior lightweight world title via eighth-round disqualification over Puerto Rican challenger Jonathan Oquendo at the MGM Grand Conference Center.

Referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight at the conclusion of the round due to repeated intentional headbutts, which left Herring unable to continue.

Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) knocked down Oquendo (31-7, 19 KOs) in the second round, and then the headbutts began. He opened up a nasty gash above Herring’s right eye and was deducted a point in the fifth round.

The headbutts continued and ultimately spelled the end of evening for Oquendo. At the time of the disqualification, Herring was in control on the scorecards (80-70 2x and 79-71).

Herring said, “It just got ugly. I wasn’t too satisfied with my performance, to be honest with you. In the beginning, everything was going real smooth, me boxing. I put him down with an uppercut. We knew he was going to come head-first. We had to time it. In the end, I wasn’t happy with how I was looking. I’m disappointed with the outcome. I’ve never been in that situation.

“I still want the Carl Frampton fight next by all means. November, December, whatever. I still want that fight next.”

So Good, So Cold

Steven “So Cold” Nelson (17-0, 14 KOs) retained his NABO super middleweight belt with a one-sided sixth-round TKO victory over Toledo firefighter DeAndre Ware (13-3-2, 8 KOs). Nelson, from Omaha, Neb., has now won four in a row via stoppage.

DeAndre Ware used chest compressions to get Pete Susens' heart going on Friday at the weigh in the day before his bout with Steven Nelson.

Toledo, Ohio irefighter Ware, left, perhaps saved the life of Top Rank coordinator Pete Susens at the Friday weigh in, re-starting his heart with compressions. But that didn’t give Ware a gimme–Nelson beat the hero in the ring the next evening.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Nelson, who suffered a pair of headbutt-induced cuts. The blood, however, served as fuel for the knockout to come.

Nelson said, “When that second cut came, I was like, I know how fighters are when they see an injury. So I said, ‘You know what, I have to get to work. My plan was to go out there and feel him out, don’t rush it too much. That’s why the first couple of rounds, I wasn’t doing too much, and then I picked it up. The headbutt was the perfect time for me to pick it up.

“I feel like I’m ready for a title eliminator and then let’s go for the title. That was my whole plan, to set myself up where they can’t deny me a world title.”

—Watch out for light flyweight Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez. The San Antonio native knocked out the normally durable Janiel Rivera (18-7-3, 11 KOs) in the opening round, the first time Rivera had been knocked out since 2014. Rodriguez is trained by Robert Garcia, and his brother, Joshua Franco, recently won a super flyweight world title inside the “Bubble.”

Rodriguez said, “I felt amazing. I told Robert in the locker room, ‘This is the best I’ve ever felt.’ I think I showed that today.

“To have a brother as a champion is really motivating to me. In camp, I was thinking that my brother became a champ, and I can do the same. There were times in camp I didn’t feel like working out or running, but I thought about my brother, and he motivated me. Just the thought of him being a world champ brought out the best of me in camp.”

— Six opponents, six knockouts. Heavyweight sensation Jared “The Real Big Baby” Anderson (6-0, 6 KOs) knocked out veteran Rodney Hernandez (13-10-2, 4 KOs) in four rounds, the first time Anderson has been pushed past the third round. Anderson, from Toledo, Ohio, has won three fights inside the “Bubble” since June.

Anderson said, “We’re ready for everybody. We’re building up. Bob {Arum} is moving me perfectly. It was about getting those rounds in and showing I can really box. I’m not just a puncher. I know how to box, and I know how to stay on my back foot.

“I’m listening to the commentators more, getting a lot of learning experiences. It’s helping a lot {with me} taking my time and slowing down.”

—Welterweight Benjamin Whitaker (14-4, 3 KOs) upset the previously undefeated D’Andre Smith (8-1, 5 KOs) via six-round unanimous decision by scores of 60-54 2x and 59-55. Whitaker previously fought in the “Bubble” on June 25, when he dropped a majority decision to Vlad Panin.

— Colombian knockout artist Ruben Cervera (13-2, 11 KOs) picked up his second “Bubble” victory, knocking out New Orleans native Rennard Oliver (7-3-3) in the second round of a scheduled six-round junior lightweight bout. A right hand froze Oliver against the ropes, prompting referee Russell Mora to stop the fight.

— Edward Vazquez (8-0, 1 KO) survived the stiffest test of his career, outlasting Adan Ochoa (11-2, 4 KOs) via unanimous decision (58-55 2x and 57-56) in a six-rounder at featherweight. Ochoa knocked down Vazquez in the second round, but Vazquez won the last four rounds on two of the judges’ cards to pull away.

— In a competitive four-round featherweight tilt, Philadelphia-born prospect Rashiem Jefferson improved to 2-0 with a unanimous decision over Jose Martinez (2-2, 1 KO) by scores of 40-36 2x and 39-37.

About Michael Woods

Michael Woods

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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