By: Hans Themistode
Despite being close friends, Shakur Stevenson was always willing to put his camaraderie with Jamel Herring aside in order to get a crack at his WBO lightweight title. While reluctant at first, Herring has also decided to push their friendship to the side as well. Now, both parties are officially on the verge of facing off.
According to reports, a deal between Herring and Stevenson is nearly complete. Although nothing is set in stone just yet, their contest is likely to take place at the backend of the year. A feasible destination for their showdown is reportedly Atlanta, Georgia.
For Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), the road to becoming a multiple-time world champion has been expedited. Since turning pro in 2017, Stevenson parlayed a 2016 Olympic silver medal into a world title at 126 pounds in just two and a half years. While he completed a lifelong dream, Stevenson began thirsting for more gold. He immediately opted to drop his newly won title in his very next fight and began life in the lightweight division.
As per WBO rules, any champion from their sanctioning body who moves up in weight, immediately moves into the number one contender spot in their new weight class. Meaning, a clash with Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) was essentially inevitable.
The former U.S. Marine wasn’t initially interested in facing Stevenson, citing their strong friendship and a desire to pursue other fights. Earlier this year in April, Herring scored the biggest win of his career as he dismantled and ultimately stopped former two-division champion Carl Frampton in six rounds.
Immediately following the win, Herring placed all of his attention on WBC belt holder, Oscar Valdez. The Mexican native scored a huge win of his own earlier this year as he left long-time champion Miguel Berchelt comatose by the 10th round.
In spite of the magnitude of a Herring vs. Valdez showdown, the 35-year-old belt holder isn’t giving up hope on their contest becoming a reality. First things first, however, he’ll have to dispatch of a good friend, something he’s more than willing to do.
“It would have been a unification and for the lineal title,” said Herring to ESPN. “Why would I not push for that fight? If I have to go through Shakur to get this fight, so be it. He’s a superb boxer but I’ve been through worse.”