by David P. Greisman
In the span of his one year and six days as a pro fighter, lightweight prospect Jamel Herring has knocked out four of his six opponents.
This isn’t necessarily a surprise or a notable accomplishment, especially not in a sport where prime prospects are handed limited opposition in the early years of their development. But for Herring, the way he’s winning now is a departure from how he was perceived before he entered the paid ranks.
“I’m trying to make a statement that I’m a lot different from amateur to pro. Amateurs, they tried to say I had no power. I had good hand speed of course. But they tried to say I had no power,” Herring told BoxingScene on Dec. 14 immediately after his second-round technical knockout of Lance Williams. “I’m with [Adrien Broner’s trainer] Mike Stafford, I set up my punches more. I’m more patient. I’m just trying to make a statement that I’m not an easy opponent to step in there with.”
Herring scored three knockdowns in the second round against Williams: the first off a combination jab and southpaw left cross, the second from body shots followed by a left hand upstairs, and the third from a single left hand. The referee waved the bout off immediately after the third knockdown.
That moved Herring to 6-0 (4 KOs), and dropped Williams to 6-3 (6 KOs).
Herring had competed as a junior welterweight on the 2012 American Olympic boxing team and was eliminated in the first round of the tournament.
Herring said that despite an amateur career that began in 2001, he feels he’s still developing, in part because of his nine years serving in the Marine Corps. Herring said he did two tours in Iraq, one in 2005 and the other in 2007. He was discharged last year and then turned pro.
“I was still developing, but every fight, and every camp with Adrien Broner, I started gaining confidence and seeing that I could be a real threat out there in the pros,” Herring said.
It also helps that he’s dropped down to the 135-pound division.
“I wasn’t the biggest light welterweight, so that’s probably the reason why guys used to question my power,” Herring said. “I used to walk around at 144, so it wasn’t like I had to really work much to get down to 141. Coming to Mike Stafford, he said I can be a big lightweight, coming down to 135. At first it was hard, but now I get down there, I get under the weight limit, and I feel like I’m the bigger and stronger guy in there as a lightweight.”
Herring said he wants to be “a top 10 contender,” at the least, by the end of 2014. In the meantime, he’s working on improving.
“I got to shorten up my punches. At times I’m a little wide on my hooks,” he said. “And also I wasn’t much of a body attacker in the amateurs. But now I’m working on sitting on my punches, working on my body attack, and just working on technique all over.”
That’s his offense. As for defense:
“I’ve always been known to use my legs,” Herring said. “I’m good at lateral movement. I like to turn my opponents. I don’t like to be in front of my opponents because it’s kind of dangerous. I like to fight my opponents on angles, so my legs and keeping a high guard, those are my defenses. I try to learn that from my favorite boxer, who is Winky Wright, who was also a left-handed fighter, and he had a high guard also.”
In his six fights so far, Herring’s opponents are a combined 18-13, according to BoxRec. That’s a far cry from what he faced as an amateur.
“You’re fighting guys that you never really heard of,” he said. “But I understand that it’s a business, there’s a development process. … Right now I’m being patient, but I’m eager to step it up and show what I’m really about.”
And in the meantime, it helps that Herring’s working with talents such as Broner, three-time Olympian Rau’shee Warren, and Robert Easter Jr.
“I’m in there with world champions, future world champions, amateur world champions, so I know they’ll keep me on my p’s and q’s, and I feel confident going up the ladder later on down the road,” he said.
Pick up a copy of David’s new book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]