By Jake Donovan
Jamel Herring has spent the past several weeks on the hunt for any titlist at 130 or 135 pounds, or the perfect fight to put him in position to demand such an opportunity.
In settling for the latter, he landed on lightweight contender Denis Shafikov for his next opponent.
The 2012 U.S. Olympic male boxing team captain will collide with the previous title challenger in the headlining act of the July 2 edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on ESPN. The bout – which will be scheduled for either 10 or 12 rounds – will take place at the Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
“I instructed my team to find me the best challenge out there,” Herring (15-0, 8KOs) said of his next ring adventure. “We were really hoping for a title shot in our next fight, but when that couldn’t happen we looked into fighting Shafikov.
“I was on board from the moment we discussed as a team to pursue this fight.”
Herring enjoyed a highly successful debut as a televised headliner in a convincing 10-round win over Luis Flores this past February. The FS1-aired main event took place in Bethlehem, Penn., with the July 2 show marking his second straight trip to the Keystone State.
Shafikov (36-2-1, 19KOs) hasn’t fought since a 12-round loss to Rances Barthelemy in their vacant title fight last December in Las Vegas. Barthelemy made one successful defense – a 12-round win over Mickey Bey this past Friday on Spike TV – but has since given up the crown to campaign in the 140-pound division.
Herring’s gym stablemate, Robert Easter Jr. will vie for the once-again vacant crown, as he will face Richard Commey in a matchup of unbeaten lightweights.
Interestingly, a win on July 2 could put Herring on a similar stage, though it would come against another top lightweight other than his training mate. The 30-year old Long Island-bred boxer - who now lives and trains out of Cincinnati – will spend his final four weeks of training at Coach Barry Hunter’s HeadBangers Gym in Washington, D.C. for what he views as the biggest opportunity of his career.
“I’m just excited to get the step up I’ve been asking for,” Herring notes.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Follow his shiny new Twitter account: @JakeNDaBox_v2