For all that he has experienced in the ring and literally on the battlefield, words are the last thing to ever have any effect on Jamel Herring.
A steady stream of trash talk has preceded Herring’s upcoming title defense, most of the harsh commentary coming from unbeaten challenger and former WBO featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson (16-0, 8KOs). After months of talking up the fight, the two are set to collide for Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title October 23 on ESPN from State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
The bout will mark the fourth title defense for Herring (23-2, 11KOs), a two-tour Iraqi war veteran with the U.S. Marines and 2012 U.S. Olympic team captain from the Coram section of Long Island, New York. Herring—who turns 36 at the end of October—and Stevenson have been in past training camps together, though since entering a rivalry once placed on a path for collision course.
If there is a personal beef, it’s only in one direction.
“My thing, I want to become the undisputed champion, the true lineal champion of the division,” Herring told BoxingScene.com. “It doesn't matter what anyone has to say about it, or say about me. All I'm focused on is who's in my way of that goal.
Stevenson made a point to go hard after Herring in the months leading up to their fight, which was finalized earlier this summer. The two shared a stage earlier this month when Top Rank—the promotional company for both boxers—hosted a press conference to formally announce the event. Stevenson—a Silver medalist for the 2016 U.S. Olympic boxing team that competed in Rio—has vowed to handle Herring and become a two-division titlist, showing little regard for the division’s longest reigning titlist.
“I’ve seen Shakur be worse. I’ve seen him at worse,” Herring admitted to ESPN’s Crystina Poncher, dismissing Stevenson’s recent attempts to get under his skin. “At times, I said he’s just building the fight, this is boxing chatter. At the end of the day, we both got to go in the ring and fight. I honestly think this is the biggest fight in the division, with everything going on.
“We live in an era where kids see everything. My daughter was just like, ‘Dad, why is everyone attacking you?’ I just tell them that it is what it is. I look forward to putting on a great fight for the fans here in Atlanta in October.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox