After more than a year of attempts to finally put Jamel Herring in the ring with Carl Frampton, the two will finally meet on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN+). Herring will bring his WBO junior lightweight championship to the ring, with Frampton looking to capture a world championship for the first time since losing the IBF featherweight crown.
COVID-19 has played a factor in the many delays in making the fight happen, both in the global shutdown delaying an international fight between an American (Herring) and Irishman (Frampton), but also because Herring struggled with the virus. Herring's last fight was a disqualification win over Jonathan Oquendo that was twice delayed due to positive tests from Herring. The fight was ugly and didn't answer many questions about any potential long term effects of the virus for Herring. Combat sports has seen fighters bounce back and look like their old selves after bouts with COVID and others who have not seemed the same -- Alexander Povetkin this past weekend is a solid example of the latter. Prior to the pandemic, Frampton was forced out of a planned February 2020 date due to a hand injury.
Meeting at 130 pounds adds some interesting wrinkles with Frampton being undersized for the weight and Herring struggling more and more to be able to make the cut. Frampton will enter with significant disadvantages in size, not only in weight, but giving up nearly half a foot in height to Herring when they step in the ring at Caesar's Palace in Dubai. Reach could be an even bigger issue for Frampton, who will be working with a seven-inch disadvantage in that area.
"He will be the biggest guy I will have fought, but that excites me though, and puts fear in me," Frampton said in an interview with ESPN. "People think I'm going to just have to get close to him to land shots, but I feel I can genuinely outbox him and my footwork and hand speed is quicker than his. He's been training like he has to make weight, where as I have been working on tactics.
"For me it's been about sparring and pad work. Everything I do is catered around Jamel Herring and we had sparring partners to replicate what he does."
Frampton will be looking to win a world championship in a third weight class after previously holding the WBA and IBF super bantamweight titles and the IBF featherweight belt. Capturing a title at a third weight would make Frampton the first fighter from Ireland to achieve such a feat.
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Herring has been preparing for the fight with the support of pound-for-pound stud Terence Crawford. That is something the former Marine believes will aid him in further establishing a legacy in the sport.
"Winning would solidify me as a legit junior lightweight champion," Herring told Top Rank. "I've still got a lot to prove. Carl to me, his legacy is already cemented, he didn't need this fight. A win here would open a lot more doors for bigger fights. With me being a former marine, I want to go down as on as one of best marines to represent in the sport of boxing."
The co-main event will see he return of super flyweight Donnie Nietes when he takes on Pablo Carrillo. Nietes, 38, boasts a 42-1-5 mark in his illustrious career, but he hasn't fought since 2018. He gave up his WBO super flyweight title to try and make a fight with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai or Khalid Yafa, but no bout ever materialized so the Filipino sat idle to wait for the right opportunity to return. Now, Nietes says a win over Carrillo can get him a shot at one of Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada or Sor Rungvisai.
Below you can have a look at the full fight card set for Saturday, with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
Herring vs. Frampton card, odds
- Carl Frampton -115 vs. Jamel Herring -105 (c), WBO junior lightweight championship
- Donnie Nietes vs. Pablo Carrillo, super flyweight
- Tursynbay Kulakhmet vs. Heber Rondon, super welterweight
- Zhankosh Turarov vs. Tyrone McKenna, super lightweight
- Faizan Anwar vs. Evgenii Vazem, welterweight
- Keyshawn Davis vs. Richman Ashelley, lightweight
- Fahad Al Bloushi vs. Suraj, super featherweight
Frampton is a bit faded from being at his absolute best, though at his absolute best he was a legitimate top talent in the sport. Herring got a late start in his career after multiple tours in Iraq while with the military and has a unique story. He's also a very good fighter, but quickly getting up in age and between the years and the weight, it seems like the moment of an in-ring slip could come any time. Or it might not. Boxing is funny like that.
Ultimately, distilled down to the core elements of this fight, it's hard to see why Frampton holds a slight edge in the odds. He's significantly smaller in every respect and his advantages in pure boxing likely won't offset the physical disadvantages. Everything Frampton does will require extra work to set up and close range, while Herring can simply work his game. Pick: Herring via UD