Saturday night Stateside sees what we hope will finally be the last obstacle to be cleared on the way to a long awaited meeting down the line.
Inside the surroundings of The Bubble inside the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Ohio based New Yorker, Jamel Herring (21-2, KO10) makes the second defence of the WBO Super-Featherweight title that he won in May last year.
He will face the rugged Puerto Rican, Jonathan Oquendo (31-6, KO19), a man who has previously challenged for world honours without success.
Herring has been on a collision course with Carl Frampton for what seems like an eternity, but two adverse Herring Coronavirus tests before previous scheduled meetings with Oquendo have dragged the proposed meeting with the Northern Irishman further through 2020 and possibly into 2021.
34-year-old Herring was a late starter in the pro ranks, as he combined his amateur career with active service as a US Marine.
‘Semper Fi’ turned over in December 2012 following a stint on the USA team for the 2012 Olympics. He compiled a 15-0 as a professional, before stepping up in levels a bit too soon in July 2016.
Russia’s Denis Shafikov had only just failed in a bid for the IBF Lightweight title, and had too much for Herring, knocking him down in the second before scoring a tenth and final round stoppage.
Herring’s rebuild saw just a sole win before another setback in August 2017. Ladarius Miller clearly outscored him over ten to leave his career firmly on the brink.
He has rebounded impressively since, with five straight wins, and his breakthrough came in May of last year, with a wide points win over Masayuki Ito securing the WBO Super-Featherweight title.
He has defended once thus far, six months later, again on the cards against the unbeaten Lamont Roach.
At 36, Jonathan Oquendo is firmly in the twilight of his career, and usually suffers losses when he makes upward steps.
A professional for some 16 years, fight 13 would prove unlucky for him, as he was disqualified for persistent low blows against Oscar Andrade in April 2007 to hand him a first loss.
Three fights later, he was thrown to the fearsome Juan Manuel Lopez in a Puerto Rico derby, and Lopez came out on top via a third round stoppage.
Eight wins on the bounce gave Oquendo another domestic dust up, this time with Wilfredo Vasquez Junior, and the son of the legend triumphed by seventh round stoppage.
His other three defeats have come on the cards, and in good company. Abner Mares won clearly over ten in July 2014, but a win against Jhonny Gonzalez in Las Vegas in September of the following year gave Oquendo a shot at the WBA Super-Featherweight title.
Sadly, he was decked in the fourth and then soundly outpointed by Jesus Cuellar. He is 5-1 since that setback, with his other defeat interestingly against a common opponent in Lamont Roach in May last year.
Oquendo was docked a point for head butting, and went down clearly on the scorecards. He has since returned in November 2019, winning every round of ten against the limited Charles Huerta.
Prediction: Herring seems a man on a mission, having turned to the professional game late. He will want to keep the momentum for a clash with Frampton going with a good win here.
Oquendo has a habit of resorting to dirty tactics when in trouble, and I can dee Herring frustrating him with his slick boxing skills.
The Puerto Rican hasn’t been stopped in nearly eight years, and Herring isn’t a noted puncher, so the smart money is for the champion to retain widely on the cards.
The undercard is pretty sparse, and it’s headed by a Super-Middleweight ten rounder. Omaha, Nebraska’s Steven Nelson (16-0, KO13) takes on DeAndre Ware (13-2-2, KO8).
Heavyweight prospect, Jared Anderson (5-0, KO5) makes another appearance, and the Ohioan is in with the experienced Rodney Hernandez (13-9-2, KO4).
The eight-rounder on the bill is at Light-Flyweight, where unbeaten Texan Jesse Rodriguez (11-0, KO7) meets Janiel Rivera (18-6-3, KO11).
There are three six-rounders on the card, with two at Super-Featherweight. Edward Vazquez (7-0, KO1) takes on Adan Ochoa (11-1, KO4) and Ruben Cervera (12-2, KO10) is also in action.
At Welterweight, Christopher Gonzalez (7-0-1, KO1) and D’Andre Smith (8-0, KO5) collide.