Jamel Herring Ready to Defend Title against Jonathan Oquendo in Las Vegas

After testing positive for Covid-19 twice in July, WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring is ready to defend the title against Jonathan Oquendo this weekend.

Updated: Sept. 3, 2020 • 6:00 PM ET

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Jamel Herring is looking to retain his WBO junior lightweight title this weekend.

WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring will defend the title against Jonathan Oquendo at the MGM Grand this Saturday in Las Vegas.

Herring will defend the title for the second time since winning the belt by unanimous decision over Masayuki Ito in May 2019. In his first title defense last November, Herring won by unanimous decision over Lamont Roach Jr., who happens to have a dominant win over Oquendo that took place in May 2019.

The 34-year-old Herring has a 21-2 record with his last loss coming to Ladarius Miller by unanimous decision in 2017. He and Oquendo were scheduled to fight twice in July, but both bouts were postponed due to Herring testing positive for Covid-19. Herring, however, is finally ready to defend his belt for a second time.

“It’s not just me who’s going through this,” Herring recently said via Newsday. “The whole world is going through this pandemic. At least I am fortunate enough to still come back and get another fight date and do what I do for a living.

“So many Americans can’t go back to work. I am grateful and lucky that physically it didn’t hit me as hard as it hit others. I lost people in my life to this virus.”

After having the virus and subsequently testing negative, the champion described how he’s feeling heading into this weekend’s fight.

“I feel great,” Herring said. “Training camp has been going smoothly, mentally I am in a good place. I am just ready to go now. Everything happens for a reason.

“This was a kind of like a blessing in disguise. In July, I was still flushing out the virus in my system. Everything happens for a reason.”

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The 37-year-old Oquendo (31-6) is coming off a unanimous decision win over Charles Huerta last November. When he steps in the ring on Saturday, he’ll challenge for a major title for the third time in his career and is confident he can take the belt from Herring.

“I feel happy because the wait is over,” Oquendo recently told Puerto Rican publication Primera Hora. “I am in the best condition of my career, so there are no excuses. The delays came in handy because I was able to do more sparring since we know that I will have a great challenge in front of me.”

The Puerto Rican fighter isn’t worried about the fight being called off a third time.

“We have faith that the fight will happen,” Oquendo said. “Herring is being watched constantly. I took the tests, I have been successful and I understand that if for some reason it had to be canceled, they would have notified us.

“The important thing is that Herring's team has been monitoring it, so we know that we are going to fight.”

If Herring defeats Oquendo, a matchup with heavy-hitting Belfast fighter Carl Frampton will likely loom. Oquendo, however, doesn’t think the champion should look past him.

“If Herring wants to fight Frampton, he will have to step over me first and I am confident that I will be victorious,” Oquendo said. “Herring is a fast boxer who tries to place the punches and avoids receiving by keeping his distance, but I have the hunger to be a champion, so he will have to take care of it.”


• The main card can be seen on ESPN+ at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday