On Saturday, February 27th live on ESPN+, WBO Super Featherweight Champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring (22-2) will be defending his title against Carl “The Jackal” Frampton (28-2).
This is a great on-paper fight as both men have something to prove. On one end, the champion Herring is looking to further solidify his legacy with a big win over a guy like Frampton. While on the other hand, Frampton is looking to become a three-division champion.
There is a lot at stake for both men and I believe we will see the best version of them on display that night. Jamel Herring will be soon traveling to the U.K so I checked in with him to catch up on everything he has going on.
AG: Jamel, thank you for taking the time to do this prior to departing for the U.K. In your last fight, you suffered a nasty cut and the decision to continue was highly debated on social media. Afterwards, there were plenty of people looking at things to pick on from what was going on in the corner to how much time you spend on social media. What were some of the things that came to mind when you read those comments?
JH: They were judging my character as a Marine! Everyone who knows my story knows that I have been through worse. Even in defeat, I never made any excuses. I felt something was wrong with my body and I was clearly winning the fight. I could understand if it was a close fight and I was looking for a way out but that wasn’t the case. Let’s not forget that I went through the whole COVID situation and as a champion, was still wanting to go out there to defend my title.
Let’s also not forget that a lot of the champions who were fighting during that time were doing so at catchweights. I was one of the few that was actually cutting the weight and defending my title at my weight class. I look at it as a blessing in disguise because I saw people for who they really are.
AG: In the second half of last year, you signed an advisory deal with MTK Global while also giving your management company “First to Fight” an additional resource. Can you let the readers know who is currently on the roster and any news associated with them?
JH: “First to Fight” is a management company that I have with my partner Jerry “JC” Casarez from Los Angeles. With it being a COVID year in 2020, we actually got a lot done. We have Mykell Gamble, who is looking to make his pro debut. We have a female fighter who I feel is going to be a world champion soon and that is Mikiah Kreps from upstate NY, Niagara Falls. She recently scored a second-round knockout which says a lot as with female boxing, knockouts are rare. We also have Misael Lopez (11-0) from Denver, CO. He is signed with Lou Dibella and we were able to get that done. There are guys in Germany that we are working with and are trying to get them on cards in Dubai.
People looked at 2020 as a negative thing but we turned it into a positive one. I don’t want to have a management company that only works with one company. I want to put fighters where I feel they fit best at.
AG: I often see and hear you supporting young fighters regardless of their promotional affiliations. Jamel Herring, do you feel as though as a veteran of the sport and of the Marine Corps that you have an obligation to the youth so that they don’t make some of the same mistakes others have made in the past?
JH: I always say Marines lead the way. Not only do we lead the way, but we also lead by example. I still play a leadership role even with my 2012 Olympic team. A lot of them are either with Top Rank, Golden Boy or PBC but that is not going to stop me from being human and speaking to them. Same goes for the younger generation that look up to me and others. You see it on social media as I speak to everyone who speaks to me with respect. I’m not a fighter who acts like a diva, who thinks they are better than you because they are a world champion. I have always been taught to treat others with the same respect you would like to be treated.
What most don’t know is that yes, I’m a Top Rank fighter but a few weeks ago I called Al Haymon directly. I called Al because I was trying to get one of my fighters on a PBC card. JC has a relationship with Robert Diaz and GBP while MTK has one with Matchroom and everyone out there. That goes to show you that when you don’t burn any bridges, you can do a lot more with your future. When I left PBC, I didn’t leave on bad terms. I had Al’s number, so I called him. It just goes to show you how far character can go in this business.
AG: This past Saturday, news was passed that former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks lost his battle with cancer. Jamel Herring, when was the last time you saw him and what were some of the things he said to you?
JH: The last time I saw Leon was in June 2016 right before I fought Shafikov. It was at the Marine Corps Boxing Hall of Fame Ceremony in Camp Lejeune, NC. Leon and I were being honored and we just sat around and talked about Marine Corps times. Leon was a good dude as he supported my career and always rooted for me. I always showed a ton of respect to his son Cory. I also fought Leon Spinks III in the amateurs, so I have been around the Spinks family for a while.
Let’s not forget that aside from that big win against Ali, Ken Norton who was also a Marine veteran, who had a win against Ali as well. When I look back, I think I am the last Marine veteran to become a world champion. God bless their souls and I’m glad I was able to meet those two individuals before they passed on.
AG: Over the years, you have built a strong relationship with WBO Welterweight Champion Terence Crawford. How does that translate when you are in camp preparing for a fight?
JH: He is like the brother that is really hard on you but wants the best for you at the same time. There are no egos involved at all. He knows when I’m in camp, the bulk of the attention is on me and when he is in camp, the bulk of the attention is on him. For his last fight, I came down on my free time to push him and give him the same love and respect he gives me.
He is another guy who leads by example by having a heart and being human. Bud is a big kid and always puts his family first. You don’t see him partying on social media instead he is with his kids and loved ones. He always tells me that family is everything.
On the training end, he is always watching and pushing me. He is in there sparring with me and at times, would put on the pads and do pad work with me.
AG: You are now 35 but still remain in top shape all year round, Jamel Herring. At this point in your career, are there physical adjustments that you make in order to avoid any injuries or is it business as usual?
JH: It’s business as usual for me. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am 35 (laughs). I’m here out running the guys that are 19 years old. It’s all about how you take care of your body. People ask how do I do it? I had all of my crazy years when I was in the Marine Corps! As a young Marine, I did all of the partying and staying up late and then going to formation early in the morning. I feel like I did all of that like a decade ago so I don’t need to do it now.
I have a nutritionist, a strength coach but I take care of my body a lot more. When I’m home, I’m home and enjoy being in my own space. If you want me to go to a party, just let me know when the next Marine Corps Ball is and I’ll go to that in my dress blues.
I spoke to Bernard Hopkins when I was coming up and he always gave me pointers on how to keep your body in shape. I’m just glad that I am healthy this time around.
AG: This fight with Carl Frampton seemed like it was never going to happen because of all of the delays. Looking back, do you feel as though the delays and the fight now being this month, helped in your preparation for it?
JH: Yes, of course. My body needed the rest. What a lot of people don’t know is that I started camp near the end of April. I was literally training for five months and within that time, I caught COVID, had two delays while still trying to maintain weight. After the second delay, that put me out for six weeks and I had to hit the reset button and start camp all over again. During that time, I didn’t have any breaks, couldn’t go home and risk spreading COVID to my family and it took a toll on my body.
Once I went home, let my body rest and enjoy life, I found that hunger again. Everything happens for a reason and I feel as though it was a blessing in disguise.
AG: On February 27th, you have arguably the toughest and most recognized opponent to date, Jamel Herring. What are your thoughts coming into this fight as you head overseas to defend your title?
JH: I like Carl, but I wouldn’t say he is my toughest because the bell hasn’t rang yet. He is certainly the biggest name on my resume. I have always taken the hard road even going back to the Olympics. They said the Ito fight was going to be my toughest, but you saw what hard work and dedication can do. I enjoy being the underdog and love to prove people wrong. Carl may have the edge when it comes to experience but I’m still that hungry devil dog that wants to gain and earn more in this sport. I have that Marine mindset that we always travel where the fight is.
AG: What do you say to the fans and military veterans who continue to support you and your boxing career?
JH: I’m just grateful for all of their support. I’m the same guy long before I won the world title. I’m happy, in a good space and not sick.
AG: Where can fans follow you on social media and purchase some of your merchandise?
My Three Cents: Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring is going up against the odds by traveling to the U.K and defending his title. This is familiar territory and Herring knows exactly what he needs to do to come away with the victory. On February 27th, can Jamel Herring once again defy the odds and beat Carl Frampton? Can this potentially set up another major title fight towards the end of the year? You will have to tune into ESPN+ and see how this one plays out.