The fight between junior lightweight world titlist Jamel Herring and former two-division titlist Carl Frampton, which is penciled in for Dec. 19 in the United Kingdom, could move into January to ensure an American broadcaster but if it remains in December it would not have a broadcast home in the United States, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum told

Dec. 19 is a Saturday loaded with a full schedule of college football conference championship games, three of which will air on ESPN platforms in addition to one bowl game, so the network is not interested in paying for a boxing event on that day, be it on the network or on ESPN+, its streaming service, according to Arum.

“The fight wouldn’t even be on ESPN or ESPN+ because they were talking Dec. 19 for the fight but there are so many football games,” Arum said to BoxingScene. “Now, if they moved it to January it may clear some schedules, in which case we can put it on a Saturday afternoon.”

The heavy college football slate on Dec. 19 was also the reason ESPN and Fox, which has two college conference championship games on that day, decided it did not want to move forward with a joint pay-per-view of the third fight between heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury and former titlist Deontay Wilder that was penciled in for that date and now is off altogether.

Although Arum promotes Herring and co-promotes Frampton, the deal for the bout to take place in England meant that Frank Warren, Frampton’s co-promoter, and MTK Global, adviser to both boxers, would handle the event and pay for it, Arum said.

Arum added that his company’s only involvement would be to work things out with ESPN to show it in the United States, but he said he cannot deliver that for Dec. 19.

Complicating matters, however, is that the fight is an optional defense for Herring, who is obligated to make a mandatory defense against former featherweight world titlist Shakur Stevenson. While Stevenson and manager James Prince agreed Stevenson would step aside to allow Herring-Frampton, contractually the fight has to take place by the end of December, Arum said.

Stevenson is due to fight in late January against an opponent to be determined and then meet the Herring-Frampton winner in the mandatory bout in the spring, Arum said.

“So, if there’s conference championship games in football why the hell would you ever want to put the (Herring-Frampton) fight on any place even if you had the bandwidth,” Arum said in reference to ESPN+, which can carry an unlimited number of events at the same time. “And (ESPN) turned it down, although we didn’t really push it. Now, if the fight goes to January and Shakur is OK with it, why not?

“The deal we have, that Shakur agreed to, was that the fight had to be in December. Now, Shakur is not going to fight until January. So, if (Herring-Frampton is in) early January I assume he’ll go along with it. But it is what it is. People sign contracts and agreed and all of that and they have rights and they can take whatever positions they want. It’s not something under our control. Right now it’s Dec. 19 and all the ducks are in order. If the date changes (to January) everybody has to consider their positions.”

A person involved in the situation told BoxingScene that a solution that perhaps could help build up a fight between the Herring-Frampton winner and Stevenson would be to have both bouts on the same January date, with the title fight in the United Kingdom on an ESPN platform in the afternoon with Stevenson going in the evening in the United States, with the Herring-Frampton winner perhaps appearing on the Stevenson broadcast to drum up interest in the spring showdown.

On Sept. 5, at the conference center at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, southpaw Herring (22-2, 10 KOs), 35, of Cincinnati, retained his title for the second time by one-sided but rough eighth-round disqualification over Jonathan Oquendo, who was DQ’d for repeated head butts that left Herring with a bad cut and scratched cornea.

Two weeks earlier, on Aug. 15 in London, former junior featherweight and featherweight titlist Frampton (28-2, 16 KOs), 33, of Northern Ireland, punched his way into the fight with Herring with a seventh-round knockout of Darren Traynor.

Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), 23, a southpaw from Newark, New Jersey, and a 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, moved up to junior lightweight and knocked out Felix Caraballo in the sixth round on June 9 in Las Vegas.

Dan Rafael was's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.