When Shakur Stevenson discusses potential 130-pound title fights, he purposely mentions Jamel Herring last.
Leo Santa Cruz, the WBA’s “super” champion, always comes up first. Stevenson also has made it well known that he would love to challenge the winner of the Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez fight for Berchelt’s WBC belt.
The WBO featherweight champion gladly would box IBF junior lightweight champ Joseph Diaz Jr., too. Herring hasn’t been mentioned more prominently by Stevenson because he and the WBO junior lightweight champion are close friends.
Their teams often interact as well when they train alongside one another in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The only way Stevenson would agree to fight Herring is if he can’t secure a shot at another 130-pound champion. If it comes down to that, a Stevenson-Herring fight shouldn’t be difficult to make because both boxers are promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
“The thing with that is I will fight Jamel if I have no other choice but to fight him,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “We work with the same people. Bo-Mac, Red, they help me out a lot, also. So, I’m not gonna get on record and call out Jamel Herring because me and him are real tight. Like, we all are locked in with the same people. We work with the same lady that helps us cut weight.
“It’d be a real weird situation. I wouldn’t call for no fight like that, but if it came down to it, and it’s my last resort and the only way I could get a world title [shot] or something else drastic, that would make me fight Jamel. But other than that, I wouldn’t wanna get in the ring with him.”
The 34-year-old Herring, a U.S. marine from Coram, New York, is trained by Brian McIntyre and Jacqui “Red” Spikes, who also train Terence Crawford. Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, is trained by his grandfather, Wali Moses, and Kay Koroma.
Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) knocked out Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KOs) in the sixth round of his 130-pound debut Tuesday night at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. He’ll relinquish his WBO 126-pound championship and remain at junior lightweight if IBF featherweight champ Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) doesn’t agree to face him next in a title unification fight.
Herring (21-2, 10 KOs) was scheduled to defend his title against Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo (31-6, 19 KOs) on July 2 at MGM Grand Conference Center. That fight was recently pushed back after Herring tested positive for COVID-19.
The defense against Oquendo, in a main event ESPN will air, will be rescheduled shortly. If Herring overcomes Oquendo, he’d be available sooner than Santa Cruz, the Berchelt-Valdez victor or Diaz.
Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KOs), of Rosemead, California, is expected to battle Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs), the WBA world lightweight champ, in a 130-pound bout later this year. The date and venue for that Showtime Pay-Per-View fight haven’t been determined.
The bout between Mexican rivals Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) and Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) will be scheduled for later this year as well. Diaz (31-1, 15 KOs), of Downey, California, is contractually committed to an immediate rematch with Philadelphia’s Tevin Farmer (30-5-1, 6 KOs, 1 NC), whom Diaz defeated by unanimous decision to win the IBF 130-pound championship January 30 in Miami.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.