By: Oliver McManus
Jamel Herring proved his championship credentials out in Dubai on Saturday evening with a near perfect display against Carl Frampton. The WBO champion boxed beautifully from the beginning to ask questions of his challenger before a monumental sixth-rounder saw Herring dismantle Frampton through a series of well-worked punches.
The performance was fantastic and, no doubt, it goes down as the best of Jamel Herring’s career to date but, with plenty of big nights remaining, what’s next for the former marine?
Well, the obvious answer is Shakur Stevenson who the WBO has made clear is next in line for their super-featherweight championship. The blue-chip 23-year-old has been guided by Top Rank to that mandatory position after stepping up from 126lbs at which he spent a whole fight as world champion.
Since then, Stevenson has put together back-to-back wins at 130lbs – against Felix Caraballo and Toka Khan Clary – and sat patiently for Herring vs Frampton to eventually take place. It seems as though the governing body will stand firm and enforce that mandatory so perhaps the question of ‘who’s next?’ is a little redundant.
Nonetheless, we’ll speculate a little and a fantastic match-up for Jamel Herring is against Oscar Valdez. The undefeated two-division belt holder is coming off his career-best win after a beatdown of Miguel Berchelt back in February. The Mexican is the WBC titlist at super-feather but had an extended spell as WBO featherweight champion with six defences prior to Herring capturing the crown.
With both men fresh off their biggest career wins, it makes sense that this is the fight to make. It would be a compelling viewing – a unification, at that – and a fight where, actually, you’re not too sure who would come out on top. You lean towards Valdez as the Champion with a better record, slightly more experienced on the big stage, carrying more power but Herring has hit his stride: he is in his purple patch and it is his time. A mouthwatering fight.
A slightly lower key man that Herring might wish to reward himself with a moderately easier night against if, allowed by the WBO, is Jeremiah ‘Low Key’ Nakathila from Namibia. The 31-year-old is ranked #2 with the WBO – one higher than Frampton – and is their ‘Global’ champion, having defeated Zoltan Kovacs in April 2019. Not much is known about the man but the WBO has him in high regard and it should be light work for Herring.
Another American looking good at 130lbs is Chris Colbert – interim WBA champ. While that fight isn’t particularly likely, it would certainly be intriguing. Colbert, 24, has looked really good so far to go 15-0 and is building up quite nicely with wins over Jezreel Corrales and Jaime Arboleda last year. Not a realistic foe for Semper Fi next but worth keeping an eye on where this develops over the next 12-18 months.