Shakur Stevenson senses entirely too much has been made of his “friendship” with Jamel Herring.
Stevenson considers Herring an acquaintance, not a friend, which is why their upcoming 130-pound title fight is strictly business to him. There’s nothing awkward to Stevenson about boxing Herring on October 23 because the former WBO featherweight champion doesn’t have a personal connection to Herring.
“I mean, I don’t know Jamel,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t know too much about him. I respect his team. I respect what his team’s done for him. But I don’t know Jamel. Jamel is someone I see around. He an associate, so I don’t know him. It ain’t like we the best of friends.”
Stevenson, 24, and Herring, 35, have trained at similar times in Colorado Springs for some of their fights since Herring joined forces with Terence Crawford’s training team early in 2018. They sparred a couple times and Stevenson recalls Herring watching some of his sparring sessions against other boxers, but Stevenson doesn’t share a closeness to Herring the way he does with Crawford, who has mentored Stevenson since he turned pro early in 2017.
“I feel like a lot of people was trying to act like we was friends,” Stevenson said. “I don’t recall being his friend. It’s whatever you wanna call it. Like somebody you see around, we know the same people. Like to me, that’s an associate. That’s somebody I know, but me and him don’t talk outside [of the gym] or anything. Like we never really had conversations. I used to be sparring and all my sparring days, Jamel used to come and watch me. So, that was probably the most interaction we had.
“But I never went in there and watched Jamel on his sparring days, or nothing like that. You feel me? Like I don’t know – I think they made more out of it than what it is, just because he’s with [Brian McIntyre] and with Terence and all that. But I ain’t really that friendly with him. Like, I see him around, but me and him ain’t had much conversation. It’s just like, ‘What up,’ and keep it moving, that type of thing.”
Herring hasn’t taken Stevenson’s insults personally during the promotion of their bout because the 2012 U.S. Olympian suspects Stevenson simply is trying to sell it.
The Marine, who served two tours of duty in Iraq, hasn’t responded to Stevenson’s trash talk. Herring has instead expressed respect for the 2016 Olympic silver medalist’s skills and refrained from insulting the Newark, New Jersey, native.
ESPN will televise the 12-round championship bout between Cincinnati’s Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) and Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) from State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Various sports books list Stevenson, the mandatory challenger for Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title, as at least a 5-1 favorite.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.