It was Saturday night in the sport that loves to have moments that fall within “the theater of the unexpected” and WBO Super Featherweight champion Jamel Herring (22-2) defeated Jonathan Oquendo (31-6).
Before we really get into it all, let’s first look how the fight started and ended.
Going into the fight, we all knew Jonathan Oquendo had a Shawn Porter type of style where he would lead with his head and at times, get in close to make the fight rough. This is exactly what we got from him and Herring had a tough time getting into a rhythm and establishing that jab we are all used to seeing from him.
Herring’s trainer Bomac McIntyre saw what was happening and asked for him to deliver the short uppercut which he did in the third round and that sent Oquendo to the canvas for a knockdown. In the fifth round, a clash of heads which was called “intentional” by referee Tony Weeks opened a nasty cut over the right eye of Herring.
The champion would fight until the eighth round and when he mentioned that he couldn’t see over his right eye, the doctor called the fight. Since the headbutt was intentional, the fight became a disqualification and Herring retained his title.
The cut that was suffered by the headbutt from Oquendo was bad, however some will say fighters have continued from worse. I saw the Twitter timeline mention that the Tyson Fury (vs Otto Wallin) cut was bad, and he kept going until the end of the fight. That happened because the cut was a result from a punch and if he didn’t finish, he would lose his lineal title and the Wilder fight. There were other examples being thrown out there but all of them had one thing in common: they had something to lose if they did not continue.
Jamel was up on the cards and he had to be asking himself if he continued with his limited vision for the next four rounds, would it have been worth it? Would going the four remaining rounds be worth risking his health and a possible career defining fight with Carl Frampton? Let’s not forget the career high purse he could potentially earn from such a fight. All of those things had to be going through his mind but lets remember that Herring severely cut that same eye just a few fights ago.
When Jamel Herring fought in September 2018 against John Moralde in Fresno, he suffered a big cut on the same eye. He finished the fight but that was because it was his Super Featherweight debut and he was trying to show that he should get the title shot against Ito.
Herring went to the hospital on Saturday night and there it was discovered that an old injury (probably the one I mentioned) that didn’t properly heal along with the blood in his eye caused him to have an impaired vision.
Only the fighter in the ring knows what is best for him or her when things like this happen so for anyone else to say different, that is an unfair position to take.
The Telecast and the word “Quit”
When all of the commotion was going on the corner, both Tim Bradley and Andre Ward were saying things like “he quit” and “he doesn’t want to be in there anymore.”
For both of those guys to say that tells you that they really don’t know the fighter they are commentating on. Jamel is a Marine veteran and aside from that, did two combat tours. While this is a known fact, what only few understand is what that really means and calling someone a quitter who is cut from that type of cloth is something a Marine would never accept.
Let’s go back when former heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe thought he could go become a Marine after boxing. He didn’t last a month and truly quit as he couldn’t handle it… which is why we are “The Few and the Proud”.
Marines are a prideful bunch and would rather laugh when staring death in the face than quit on any occasion. This is just the reality of it and I can say that with confidence because I am still an active member of the Marine Corps.
Marines go through a lot and Herring not only has to deal with everything that surrounds being a fighter but is also battling PTSD which is the hardest fight you can ever have because you deal with it 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
When Tim and Andre said Herring quit, it struck a nerve because they were quick to have a “click bait” moment then wait and see while the whole story unraveled.
My Three Cents and Around the Curve
Jamel Herring wasn't able to give the fans a show on Saturday night. As we saw with the Jose Ramirez fight, the delays had an impact on Herring getting into rhythm and with Oquendo’s rough style, it didn’t make for a great showing.
What’s next for Herring? The Frampton fight is next but with this injury, it may not happen until early 2021. Why would this be important? There may be a good possibility that it can be in front of fans and over in Ireland so keep an eye on that.
Looking at things deeper and “Around the Curve,” were Saturday night’s comments from Andre Ward more about setting in place a fight for his guy Shakur Stevenson? I remember Ward mentioning in a previous telecast when asked about Herring that “we are friends, but this is business” when referring to a possible showdown with Stevenson. I think Stevenson faces the winner of Herring versus Frampton by the end of next year. Keep on eye on that!
Jamel Herring did not lose credibility, he was unwilling to put himself at risk of permanently damaging his eye in a fight that had everything to lose but nothing to gain.
Jamel Herring is and will always be “Semper Fi”.