Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton have once again received new marching orders.
The long-awaited junior lightweight title fight showdown is now set for April 3 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), sources involved with the event have informed BoxingScene.com. The new date and location come on the heels of yet the latest stalled effort to get these two in the ring, including a modification to the tentatively rescheduled date of March 27 at the same location.
Herring (22-2, 10KOs) still endures a road trip for the third defense of his WBO junior lightweight title, though on neutral territory as the fight is pushed away from the United Kingdom. The most recent plans called for the 35-year old southpaw from the Coram section of Long Island to defend his crown at London’s Copper Box Arena on February 27, only for the event to be pulled due to Belfast’s Frampton (28-2, 16KOs) suffering a hand injury, a recurring theme in the current stage of his lengthy career.
The new location was agreed upon by all parties, with the event now taking place in the same city which is also the home base for MTK Global which represents both boxers.
The latest date is one of several to have been assigned to this voluntary defense. Herring was first due to travel to Frampton’s Belfast hometown for a show to have aired on ESPN platforms last June 13. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic stalled those plans, with both boxers since accepting interim fights.
Herring was granted an 8th round disqualification win over Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo last September—with that bout having suffered two postponements as well. Herring tested positive for COVID-19, thus being removed from a July 2 ESPN show. Another positive test killed plans to reschedule the bout for later that month.
Frampton’s lone fight since the pandemic took place versus a replacement opponent. The former two-division titlist was due to face Vahram Vardanyan, who was forced to withdraw from their Aug. 15 bout due to visa issues. Vardanyan was replaced by journeyman Darren Traynor, whom Frampton stopped inside of seven rounds at the famed York Hall in Bethnal Green, England.
From there came hopes to move forward with a showdown last Dec. 12 in Las Vegas. However, injuries sustained by Herring in his foul-filled win over Oquendo left him unable to fight until the start of 2021. Efforts to stage the fight in January proved futile, with event handlers eventually settling on Feb. 27 in London before Frampton’s hand injury prompted yet another change.
Frampton seeks to become the first-ever three-division titlist to come out of Belfast. His last title fight win came in July 2016, when he dealt the first defeat to Leo Santa Cruz in their 12-round thriller to wrest the WBA featherweight crown. The feat came just five months after unifying the WBA and IBF junior featherweight belts in a points win over longtime rival Scott Quigg in their Feb. 2016 battle of unbeaten titlists.
The pair of wins saw Frampton claim 2016 Fighter of the Year honors by most outlets, including BoxingScene.com. He would lose the featherweight belt in his next fight, suffering his first career defeat as he was outpointed by Santa Cruz in their Jan. 2017 rematch. Frampton’s lone other title fight came in an entertaining but clear-cut points loss to then-unbeaten IBF featherweight titlist Josh Warrington in Dec. 2018.
Herring—a two-time Iraqi war veteran with the U.S. Marines and team captain of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team which competed in London—secured his title in a 12-round points win over Japan’s Masayuki Ito on Memorial Day weekend 2019 in Kissimmee, Florida. The victory came complete a platoon of his fellow U.S. Marines escorting him to the ring and also joining him there in his post-fight celebration, causing the canvas to partially collapse.
The first title defense for Herring came on the Saturday preceding Veteran’s Day in 2019, enjoying a Humvee ride to the ring en route to a 12-round unanimous decision win over mandatory challenger Lamont Roach in Fresno.
With the amount of time it has taken to get this fight in the ring, another mandatory title defense is now due. The winner will be ordered by the WBO to immediately enter negotiations with unbeaten former featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8KOs). With so much time having elapsed, the WBO will only allow a five-day window for the two sides to reach terms before the ordered title fight will be subject to a purse bid hearing.
Stevenson and his legal team previously contested the decision to allow Herring to move forward with his oft-rescheduled clash with Frampton. BoxingScene.com has learned that those issues have since been resolved, with the 23-year old rising star willing to wait out the result of this fight before calling for his overdue chance at becoming a two-division titlist.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox