The first major fight of 2021 for Queensberry Promotions is one where the company is hardly guaranteed to leave with a world champion under its banner.
Jamel Herring will cross the Atlantic to defend his junior lightweight title versus former two-division champ Carl Frampton atop a BT Sport-aired event taking place Feb. 27 at a location to be determined in London. The oft-postponed title clash will mark the first ring appearance for both fighters since separate showcase fights last summer.
“It’s going to be great to get Carl out and get Herring over here,” promoter Frank Warren told IFL TV’s Umar Ahmed. “It’s a chance for Carl to become Ireland’s first-ever three-weight world champion which would be a massive thing and obviously our first world title fight back.”
The bout was first due to take place last June in Frampton’s hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Those plans were ruined by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, leaving both boxers to settle for stay-busy fights with hopes of rescheduling the fight in the 4th quarter of 2020.
Frampton (28-2, 16KOs) settled on late replacement foe Darren Traynor, whom he stopped inside of seven rounds last August. Three weeks later, Herring (22-2, 10KOs) held up his end though not before being repeatedly fouled en route to a disqualification win over Puerto Rico’s Jonathan Oquendo last September in Las Vegas.
The only remaining roadblock is whether the WBO rules in favor of an appeal filed by the legal team for unbeaten former featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8KOs), Herring’s mandatory challenger. An argument has been made that Herring’s voluntary defense versus Frampton falls outside the deadline imposed by the WBO for the fight to have taken place by Dec. 31, 2020 without exception.
A ruling is expected in the coming days by the sanctioning body, though the sense is that the title fight more than a year in the making will finally see the light of day. It just won’t take place in front of a rabid pro-Frampton crowd in Belfast as originally intended—or in front of any crowd, for that matter,
“In the environment we’re in without any live gates, Herring is just going into a neutral venue,” suggests Warren. “If he were going into Belfast where we wanted to put it (prior to the pandemic), he would be going into the lion’s den. It’s going to be a venue with no participants.
“It’s a tough fight, a 50/50 fight. Those are the fights we like.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox