Jemel Herring and Shakur StevensonI love the fight game. It throws up such unexpected outcomes. Usyk and AJ. Martin and Garcia. Stevenson and Herring…
Oh, hang on, that last one was well expected.
It was thought that the younger man Shakur Stevenson would beat older champ Jamel Herring handily.
And he did. The pundits were right.
But it’s how he did it, that’s the thing.
So How Did He Do It?
With stupendous skills, that’s how. Stevenson was bound to be faster, but right from round 1, he found the range for the jab.
It almost seemed like he’d been working 3 rounds and eased himself in.
To start like that, to feint and move, to look like he already knew he had the belt round his waist, that’s special.
He pushed Herring back in round 2, this is early in the fight to be doing that to a taller man.
He was picking his shots with such accuracy that Herring looked uncomfortable. In fact he looked ungainly, as if he wanted to get away but just couldn’t.
For good measure, Stevenson hit a one-two and a southpaw hook at the end of the round that seemed to say ‘yes, I am that good…’
The very next round, Shakur was established as the fighter able to hit Herring at any time, switching so quickly from body to head and never missing a beat.
This was looking easy. But nothing is that easy.
Herring came our in round 4 keen to tough it out and rough it up.
This is what he has to do, get close in and make it pay. He used his rangy jab a little better. Well, he actually used it.
And then at the end of a round Herring looked good in, Stevenson just used his composure and speed to push shots through the guard.
And that happened in the next round too, getting round the guard, getting through the guard, no matter how tight it was.
But Herring showed more of an intention to get closer and try to smother the younger man’s work.
And then his jab started to work! Hooray! It had only taken till half way through the fight to find it.
And yet. And yet. Stevenson just went back to work, the accuracy remarkable.
But he showed his inexperience when Herring got an uppercut through and a low shot, Stevenson turned to look at the referee which allowed another shot to smack into his face.
This may have been the only moment of concern for Shakur here, as Herring found his gameplan was ruined.
If you’re going to get inside and mix it up, your opponent needs to be less ready for that assault. Stevenson was tougher inside; that isn’t what Jamel wanted to see.
By the 10th of the 12 rounds, Herring had swollen eyes from the constant barrage and a cut on the right. The ref took him to the ringside doctor.
Who allowed it to continue, but it was very soon apparent that Herring either couldn’t see, or couldn’t avoid, the head shots.
After a short and snappy barrage, he shook his head. This is often because a fighter has been caught and wants to show the bravado of ‘nah, didn’t hurt me’.
This was different. It was a shake of his head to which seemed to say ‘this isn’t working.’
Soon after, the damage was over, some thinking the ref stoppage was early. It wasn’t. Herring wasn’t replying to Stevenson’s punches and could surely only have shipped more damage.
It was a technical boxing match. No one wants to see such damage.
Was This As Good As We Think?
Oh yes. Never mind the ‘boy becomes a man’ stuff. Stevenson is young, but he isn’t a newbie.
He’s had 17 fights and impressed in most. But those commentators are right that he stepped up, won the WBO Junior Lightweight strap and did it with élan.
Beating his more experienced opponent in speed, movement, accuracy and boxing smarts is pretty emphatic.
Where To Now For Herring?
The tumble down the mountain. It’s always hard to be beaten. Even harder when you lose the gold. And this was pretty graphic. Jamel didn’t just slip. He tumbled.
He was bested. And what’s more, he endorsed other people’s view of his chances, his work, his ability.
Surely Herring will take time to lick wounds and consider his next move. It may be a climb back up the mountain. At 35, it might look a little too steep.
And For Stevenson?
Well, Valdez, some say. Oscar Valdez would be the nearest to him in ranking, even though there is a bit of a smell around his win over Robson Conceicao.
They’re both Top Rank fighters too. Seems a slam dunk.
Except that DAZN today reported that Stevenson reckons a fight against Gervonta Tank Davis would be ‘an amazing fight.’ Just not now; ‘…later on down the line, will be an amazing fight.’
Why would he close himself off? Particularly when people are discussing Devin Haney and Teofimo Lopez. So many tasty fights. Although a lot of the fun talk is about Davis.
Shakur Stevenson is here. He announced himself by kicking down the doors and taking over the party playlist.
He is the fighter people want to see. And no one is trying to duck him. Yet.