WBO super featherweight champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring was waiting for months to have his fight against Jonathan Oquendo after having it pushed back twice due to positive COVID-19 tests. On Saturday night, the champion tried to have an impressive performance and gain momentum towards a fight with Carl Frampton. Oquendo’s tactics prevented that from happening.
After having a point deducted in the fifth round for an intentional headbutt, Oquendo was disqualified by referee Tony Weeks after eight rounds due to a cut on Herring’s eye halting the bout. Herring keeps his WBO title as a result of the decision by Weeks and is now 22-2. The challenger falls to 31-7 following this disqualification loss.
Herring had to deal with Oquendo’s come forward style from the sound of the opening bell as Oquendo was leading in with his head to get in close quarters. That happened for most of the first round and Tony Weeks had warned Oquendo about leading into his opponent with his head. This was the theme for the duration of the fight as Herring tried to execute his plan but Oquendo was making things rough for the defending champion. Herring landed an uppercut and straight left that stunned Oquendo in the second round then he followed up with another uppercut to send Oquendo to the canvas in the third.
There wasn’t much offense from Oquendo until the fourth round when he landed two power shots but Herring’s more precise punching still frustrated Oquendo. It reached a breaking point in the fifth round as Oquendo intentionally headbutted Herring and caused a cut over Herring’s right eye. A lot of clinching took place in the sixth and seventh rounds, and in the eighth round Herring scored with some lefts and rights before the end of the round. When Herring returned to his corner, he notified his trainer Brian McIntyre that he couldn’t see through his right eye. Tony Weeks was also notified and made the decision to call the fight after eight rounds.
Herring was disappointed that the result was a win by disqualification and felt that he could continue.
“I was cool, like I said, [to continue] with one eye,” Herring said. “I’ve been there, in the [Denis] Shafikov fight, fighting with one eye. So, I’ve been there. That wasn’t an issue, but my team felt it was just too much. So … we just had to stop it or whatever.”
Herring was leading on all three scorecards and it was a clean sweep with the exception of one judge scoring the eighth round to Oquendo. Even so, Herring wanted to finish the fight and be given a clear decision victory.
“I wasn’t too satisfied with my performance, to be honest with you,” he told Bernardo Osuna after the fight. “In the beginning, you know what I’m saying, everything was going real smooth. I put him down with an uppercut [in the third round], but like I said, we knew he was gonna come in headfirst, so we had to time it.”
“I’m disappointed with the outcome because, you know what I’m saying, I’ve never been in that situation. Like I say, I’ve been through worse, but I’ve never been in a situation where we had to, you know what I’m saying, stop any fight.”
Herring now has a title defense against former featherweight champion Carl Frampton on the horizon and the New York native wants that fight to happen as soon as possible. He knows that it could be his biggest fight of his career and Herring wants to make a statement after Saturday’s struggle.
“I still want the Carl Frampton fight next, by all means. November, December, whatever, I still want that fight next.”