Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton have been hit with yet another delay to finally meet in the ring.
The oft-postponed junior lightweight title fight has been forced to move off of its scheduled Feb. 27th date in London, BoxingScene.com has learned. A hand injury suffered by Frampton has forced the former two-division champ on the sidelines for two weeks, per doctor’s orders, thus prompting the latest setback in getting this fight over the line.
Event handlers are working on a new date, with the bout now targeted for March 27 at a location to be determined. An official announcement is expected from BT Sport, the U.K. broadcaster who will present the fight, while efforts continue to secure U.S. TV rights once a new date is confirmed.
The news comes less than three weeks after previously clearing another hurdle, as the WBO officially ruled that its belt would remain at stake for the bout. Herring (22-2, 10KOs) was pressed with the decision between going through with his long-sought clash with Belfast’s Frampton (28-2, 16KOs) at the risk of being stripped of his 130-pound title or having to instead go through with a mandatory title defense versus former featherweight beltholder Shakur Stevenson.
The matter was cleared up by the WBO in late January. The fight was permitted to move forward with the written assurance that the winner would immediately negotiate terms to next face Stevenson no more than 90 days later. A five-day negotiation window has been applied in lieu of the normal 30-day period.
Meanwhile, the long-planned showdown between Herring and Frampton is once again on the move.
Original plans called for the title fight to take place last June in Frampton’s hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. The event was shut down due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with both boxers instead granted separate fights to build towards a planned fall clash. Frampton—a former unified junior featherweight titlist and featherweight beltholder—took care of business, scoring a 7th round knockout of overmatched late replacement opponent Darren Traynor last August in Bethnal Green, England. The bout marked his second straight win above the featherweight limit, having soundly outpointed unbeaten Tyler McCreary in Nov. 2019.
Frampton was due to make his junior lightweight debut earlier that summer, only to suffer a freakish injury when a hotel lobby pillar collapsed on his left hand during fight week. The wound killed plans for his scheduled Aug. 2019 ESPN+ headliner versus Mexico's Emmanuel Dominguez, while fighting through injuries during training camp and having been diagnosed with fractures in both hands following his aforementioned win over McCreary.
Herring had a rougher go in his fight, having overcome COVID-19 which caused two postponements in his eventual second title defense versus Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo. The 35-year old southpaw from the Coram section of Long Island, New York prevailed by 8th round disqualification, though was left with a cut and a scratched cornea which jeopardized plans to face Frampton in the 4th quarter of 2020. Talks of meeting in November were pushed back to December before moving to the 1st quarter of 2021.
Herring claimed the WBO title in a 12-round unanimous decision win over Masayuki Ito in May 2019. The win came on Memorial Day weekend, with Herring—a decorated two-tour Iraqi war veteran with the U.S. Marines—enjoying a similarly patriotic-themed backdrop for his first title defense. That moment came in a 12-round win over unbeaten Lamont Roach in Nov. 2019, two days before Veteran’s Day.
The bout with Frampton will not come with such a luxury, whenever it finally takes place. Herring was due to fight outside of the U.S. for the first time as a pro, fittingly in London where he spent his last amateur bout while as captain of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox