There remains unfinished business at junior lightweight for Jamel Herring.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the reigning World Boxing Organization (WBO) 130-pound titlist intends to keep his title and commit to facing the winner of the June 12 interim title fight between Shakur Stevenson and Namibia’s Jeremiah Nakathila (21-1, 17KOs). The latter part was a condition placed by the WBO in permitting Herring (23-2, 11KOs) to move forward with his oft-postponed optional defense versus Carl Frampton earlier this month.
Herring knocked out Belfast’s Frampton (28-3, 16KOs) in the 6th round of their April 3 title fight in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The WBO approved the fight on the condition that the winner would commit within 30 days to next facing whoever prevails between Stevenson and Nakathila, who fight for the sanctioning body’s interim title June 12 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
There was speculation that Herring was willing to vacate his title if it meant securing a showdown with reigning World Boxing Council (WBC) junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23KOs). While unification bouts are often cited as cause to file for an exception with sanctioning bodies in lieu of a mandatory defense, the WBO was not in a place to allow such a bout due to already permitting a voluntary defense for Herring.
Valdez—who claimed the belt in a career-defining 10th round knockout win over Miguel Berchelt in February—will instead make a voluntary defense later this summer.
Newark’s Stevenson (15-0, 8KOs) was named mandatory challenger upon moving up in weight after vacating his WBO featherweight title reign. The move was made official shortly after his 6th round knockout of Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo last June in Las Vegas. Stevenson—who captured a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics—has since added a shutout decision win over Toka Kahn Clary last December, also in Las Vegas.
The bout came as a stay-busy affair while waiting out a shot at becoming a two-division titlist.
Herring and Frampton were previously due to meet last June in Frampton’s hometown of Belfast, N. Ireland. The pandemic ruined those plans, with further delay met after Herring was forced to heal from a cut over his eye suffered in an 8th round disqualification win over Jonathan Oquendo last September in Las Vegas.
Stevenson’s legal team sought to exploit a clause in the WBO agreement citing that Herring and Frampton were to have completed their fight by Dec. 31, 2020 in order to avoid the sanctioning body removing its approval of the bout. The WBO subsequently ruled that the bout could proceed in 2021, under the modified condition that the winner does not accept any other fight while waiting out the approved interim title fight.
Herring was required to submit—in writing—his intention to next face the Stevenson-Nakathila winner by no later than May 1. The 35-year-old southpaw will now wait out the result of the June 12 interim title fight, at which point the WBO will immediately call for negotiations to begin for a title consolidation bout to take place by no later than the end of September.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox