As impressive as Jamel Herring looked against Carl Frampton, Shakur Stevenson considers his technical-knockout victory more reflective of Frampton than Herring.
Herring retained his WBO junior lightweight title by stopping Frampton in the sixth round April 3 at Caesars Bluewaters Dubai. The 35-year-old southpaw dropped Frampton twice, once in the fifth round and again in the sixth round, during that scheduled 12-round, 130-pound championship match before it was stopped.
Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) will make his next title defense versus Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), the mandatory challenger for his championship.
“I thought it was a great performance against Frampton,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “But at the end of the day, they both the same age, Frampton past his prime, and Frampton is like a 118-pounder, not a 130-pounder. He’s coming from lower weight classes and Jamel is a big 130. He been at 130 for a while now. He fought at 141 in the Olympics, so I think size played a huge part in that fight. I already knew Jamel was gonna win because Frampton’s not big enough, not strong enough and was at the end of his career. I give him a good grade for the performance, but it’s not too credible to me.”
Frampton, 34, announced his retirement immediately after Herring beat him. The Northern Irishman held the IBF and WBA titles in the 122-pound division and the WBA “super” championship at the 126-pound limit before he moved up to the junior lightweight division.
Stevenson believes Herring was forced into facing him. Herring recognizes, according to Stevenson, that he’ll present a much more difficult challenge than Frampton (28-3, 16 KOs).
Cincinnati’s Herring told BoxingScene.com following his defeat of Frampton that he would’ve preferred to battle WBC champ Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) in a title unification clash over Stevenson. The WBO has enforced Herring’s mandatory obligation, however, thus he’ll fight Stevenson sometime in the fall.
“I think that, at the end of the day, he really don’t have a choice,” Stevenson said. “It’s either vacate your belt or fight me, and it’s like nobody just gonna wanna vacate they belt and fight for a whole other title somewhere else or go fight Valdez without a belt. Valdez probably ain’t even interested in him if he do try to get a fight with Valdez without that belt. So, I don’t think, at the end of the day, he had too much of a choice.”
The 23-year-old Stevenson defeated Jeremiah Nakathila by unanimous decision in a 12-rounder ESPN aired earlier this month from The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Stevenson won the WBO interim junior lightweight title by beating Namibia’s Nakathila (21-2, 17 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.