Jamel Herring isn’t the 130-pound champion that Shakur Stevenson really wants to fight next.
Stevenson would prefer to challenge unbeaten WBC champion Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs), the fighter Stevenson considers the man to beat in their division. Based on their schedules, however, Stevenson thinks it is more likely that he’ll box WBO junior lightweight champ Jamel Herring after facing Jeremiah Nakathila on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs), of Newark, New Jersey, is listed by most Internet sports books as at least a 50-1 favorite to beat Namibia’s Nakathila (21-1, 17 KOs).
They’ll fight for the WBO interim junior lightweight title. The winner will be Herring’s mandatory challenger.
The 23-year-old Stevenson is friendly with Herring, but he doesn’t think that the 35-year-old champion is on his level.
“I think that it’s gonna be a massacre,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “I’ve been in the ring with Jamel before. I think that Jamel knows what it is. I like Jamel because he’s somebody who’s not supposed to be where he at. But at the end of the day, I think I’m gonna torture him. There’s levels to this. Jamel been in the gym with me, he been in the ring with me. He knows how good I am. He knows how special I am. He gonna see if he do end up having no choice but to fight me.”
ESPN will televise Stevenson-Nakathila as the 12-round main event of a doubleheader Saturday night from The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (10 p.m. EDT; 7 p.m. PDT). The network’s two-bout broadcast will begin with a 10-round junior welterweight in which Jose Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs), a two-division champion from Cidra, Puerto Rico, will face Julian Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs), of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
Cincinnati’s Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) will watch Stevenson-Nakathila from a ringside seat. Stevenson promised Herring will notice a bigger, stronger, better fighter than the green pro Herring sparred against early in Stevenson’s career.
“If I’m remembering right, I think we sparred like twice,” said Stevenson, who also is the WBC’s number one contender for Valdez. “The first time we sparred, he was down here [in Colorado Springs] with [his team], and they said that Jamel would give me good work and I told them that he wouldn’t. And we ended up sparring. I mean, I ain’t gonna speak too much on sparring, but like I said, Jamel been in there with me before and he know what it is.
“He been in my training camps. He done seen me spar with Bud [Terence Crawford]. He done seen me spar with young talent like Keyshawn Davis. He’s seen all this kinda stuff, and he know I’m a special talent. So, Jamel know what it is.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.