Jamel Herring confident of killing Carl Frampton dream in Dubai
ARTICULATE and intelligent, Jamel Herring has come through two tours of Iraq with the US Marines and the anguish of losing a child so, when he talks, he is always worth listening to.
35-year-old ‘Semper Fi' is a tall, fit, tricky southpaw who is determined to retain the WBO super-featherweight belt he won unexpectedly in 2019 by beating the Japanese champion Masayuki Ito who was on a nine-fight winning streak that included a string of knockout wins.
Since then Herring has defended the belt twice and the fact that he was prepared to travel to Windsor Park to face Carl Frampton last summer shows how confident the New Yorker is that he has the measure of Belfast's ‘Jackal'.
“It has been really good since I've been here,” joked a relaxed Herring at yesterday's press conference in Dubai.
“The people have been really open-hearted, I've got to do a little sight-seeing – for some reason they keep calling me ‘Obama'?! I guess that's how it goes.
“Overall I'm just glad to finally be here, we had a few delays but the time has come and I'm just happy to be here.”
Herring has been in Dubai for just five days (Frampton arrived two weeks' ago) but of course he's been in this region before – only Saudi Arabia separates Dubai from Iraq where Herring saw action during the Gulf War. After his second tour of the country, the US Olympian returned home and concentrated on a boxing career that has taken off since he switched from lightweight to super-featherweight.
“I believe everything that I've been through in life has led me to this point and made me who I am today,” he said.
“Of course you have to look at my military experience but even before then my upbringing, how I was raised, moulded me into the man you see today.
“Training has been good. We had to scale it back because of the postponements from one time to another but it was good. If anything, I just formed more chemistry within my team, we know this is a big fight and we took the whole camp very seriously.
“We didn't complain when the postponements happened because, as everybody knows, in 2020 I had my own postponements. I am just glad he's well and he's here and we can give the people a good fight.”
Herring has always insisted he is a Frampton fan. Way back in 2019, when the fight was first being discussed, he told The Irish News: “I honestly must say it would be a privilege and great honour if we could make this fight happen.”
There has been a bit of verbal sparring since then, but Herring hasn't changed his tune.
“I've been telling people throughout the whole build-up that I'm a fan,” he said yesterday.
“I respect what he's done in his career – he was 2016 Fighter of the Year and a two-division world champion. What is there not to like about him? Besides his accolades in the ring, just like myself he's a father and a husband and we both share common, mutual respect. We just want to do our jobs and get home to our families.
“I've been invited to Belfast many times so maybe, down the road, we'll get that pint! Right now. It's just business and I have to focus on going in there and getting the W (win).”
Frampton says he expects Herring to be at his best and, if he is (and there's no reason to think otherwise) he'll find him awkward, direct and strong tomorrow night. The defending WBO champion expects the same of his elusive, counter-punching opponent.
“I'm not looking for any weaknesses,” he said.
“We have prepared ourselves for the best version of Carl Frampton because we know what's on the line for him and whenever you put that into your mindset you have to prepare for the best.
“You can't look at a flaw he had in this fight or that fight… If anything we want to take his strengths away from him as the fight goes on and that's how we approach every fight.”
Herring's CV doesn't measure up to Frampton's which includes wins over Kiko Martinez, Scott Quigg, Leo Santa Cruz and Nonito Donaire and he admits ‘the Jackal' is “the biggest name on my resumé”. Frampton has suggested that he is having trouble getting down to the 130lb limit but Herring rejected that speculation.
“The whole jetlag is not an issue and when we got here (to Dubai) we started training late in the day anyway because the fight is going to take place late (at 1am in Dubai) so we're getting our bodies adjusted to that time difference.”