Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring was a massive underdog walking into the ring for his first ever world title shot. The former US Marine and Olympian had a moderate following among American hardcore and was a sentimental favorite for his heart wrenching and heroic back story. He was, however, given almost no real shot of defeating WBO champ Masayuki Ito of Japan. Ito was coming off if highly impressive victories over Christopher Diaz and Evgeny Chuprakov. Two undefeated fighters both considered superior to Herring, who had two previous losses one to Ladarius Miller and then other to Denis Shafikov and whos best wins were lower level names like Art Hovhannisyan and John Vincent Moralde. It would have been the perfect situation for Herring, a Marine fighting on Memorial Day Weekend and what would have been the 10th birthday of his late daughter Ariyanah. it was a perfect backdrop for Herring to capture his first world title and Herring obliged handing in a near perfect performance to capture the WBO 140-pound strap from Ito and take home the ” Fighter of the Week” award.
The Marine boxed brilliantly out of his southpaw stance from the opening bell on. Neutralizing the power and massive right hand of the Japanese champ. Peppering Ito with a sharp and constant jab as well as the occasional right hook and straight left, Herring was able to keep Ito at bay and avoided heated exchanges. Starting in the middle rounds, suspecting he was down on the scorecards, Ito urgently tried picking up the pace. However, most of his lunging power shots were avoided by the slick challenger. The times Ito was able to get inside, Herring stood his ground landing effective body shots handling himself nicely on the inside. Ito did land a few power shots but never really got going or posed ant major danger as “Semper Fi” avoided Ito’s final push in the 12th round and cruised to a one-sided unanimous decision with scores of 116-112 & 118-110 twice to capture the WBO 130-pound title.
Herring is currently signed with Bob Arum and Top Rank which puts him in prime position to secure a number of lucrative fights, including a unification bout with WBC champ Miguel Berchelt. A fight that seems probable if not likely. Arum is looking to make one of these two into a star and eventually move them up to 135 to face Lomachenko. A fight against Lomachenko, who is considered to be among the pound for pound best in the sport is the most sought-after and lucrative prize for anyone on the Top Rank side around that weight. Loma/Herring could realistically get made and get made at either 130 or 135, both Herring and Loma have fought and expressed interest in fighting at both super featherweight and lightweight. The other possible scenario would be a fight with Top Ranks mega-prospect Shakur Stevenson. If Arum wanted to move his star prospect up from 126 to 130 to get him a title shot this year.