Battling through two previous cancellations before one another, Jamel Herring and Jonathan Oquendo are finally set to square off on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) in Las Vegas. The prior two scheduled meetings -- July 2 and 14 -- were postponed after Herring twice tested positive for COVID-19. Months later, everyone is good to go for Herring to put his WBO super featherweight title on the line.
"I just feel like everything happens for a reason," Herring said at the pre-fight press conference. "It's not like I was the only one just suffering -- it's a global pandemic so I can't really complain too much. I'm just glad that I have a great team, my management, BoMac, and my promoter Top Rank, where we have the access to be able to reschedule and get me back in action."
Herring (21-10, 10 KO), a former United States Marine and part of the 2012 Olympic boxing team, earned the WBO title with a May 2019 win over Masayuki Ito. After a successful title defense against Lamont Roach, COVID-19 threw Herring's career into chaos. First, the longstanding plan for a showdown with Carl Frampton in Ireland was pushed off by the global pandemic. Then came the two positive tests and all of a sudden Herring has now been out of the ring for 10 months.
Oquendo (31-6, 19 KO) is on a 5-1 run since 2017. The lone loss in that span came two fights ago when he lost a wide decision against Roach. A rebound win over Charles Huerta in November for a secondary WBO title put him in position to take advantage of the Frampton fight being out of reach for Herring.
"Look, all I know is that we've done all the testing and I've come out negative every time," Oquendo told BoxingScene. "Of course, there's a part of me that will be relieved to finally hear the opening bell. But I never worried about the fight not happening. I signed a contract to fight him and now the fight is on. I can't wait for [Saturday]."
Herring vs. Oquendo card
Jamel Herring (c)
WBO super featherweight title
Oquendo is a solid boxer, but the recent common opponent in Roach reveals a lot about the disparity in relative talent levels. Oquendo lost fairly wide on the cards to Roach while Herring won comfortably on two of the three cards. Herring did get in a bit of trouble in Round 11, partially a product of his willingness to mix it up when he gets hit rather than fall back on his boxing skills. Oquendo is a pace-pusher and his best chance to win comes from getting Herring to fall into the trap of mixing it up in a brawl. I don't see Herring falling into that trap in this one. Pick: Herring via UD