Stevenson vs. Herring: Will Jamel Test Shakur Like Never Before?
This Saturday night following a college football game between Alabama and Tennessee on ESPN Shakur Stevenson will take on his toughest test to date when he faces titleholder Jamel Herring. On paper is one thing but can Jamel test Shakur so we can see if this 2016 Silver Medalist is as great as advertised? Sitting at 16-0 Shakur will be competing for the third time at a higher weight class of 130 which is a step up from featherweight when Stevenson won a belt over Joet Gonzalez. Once the first bell rings will get to find out more about not only Stevenson but Herring to.
Both fighters have a solid amateur pedigree of course but that alone can only get a pro boxer so far. Just ask fellow Top Rank boxer Robeisy Ramirez a Cuban Olympic standout winner of two gold medals, Ramirez having to beat Shakur in 2016. Not to mention a win over the current unified champion at 122 Murodjon Akhmadaliev in the Semifinals. Ramirez shockingly lose his first bout as a pro, to his credit, he went on to string together 8 victories in a row.
Boxing is a sport that has a “what have you done for me lately” theme to it. When Shakur Stevenson entered the pro ranks his amateur skills weren’t able to shine as much in the early goings which are not uncommon. That didn’t prevent folks in the media and on boxing Twitter from downplaying Stevenson while instead heaping praises on Michael Conlan. As Shakur started to work the unpaid ranks style out of his system and use his best attributes to translate to the pro game it seemed like the light bulb had switched on. And of course, some of those same folks started to be critical of Conlan capping his ceiling in the sport.
As time went on most notable in his last two outings Shakur hit a plateau of sorts focusing on not getting hit and outpointing guys that he’s supposed to be levels above. Once Jeremia Nakathila was able to land leather on Shakur, Stevenson seemed to be content on doing just enough to win rounds. To be fair it’s a slippery slope obviously to hit and not get hit is a wonderful trait to have. Controlling the pace and real estate are keys that will win him lots and lots of fights as a professional fighter no matter if the crowd boos or not.
The flip side is Shakur wasn’t doing that against the top levels guys. Securing a victory is the most important goal of course but does it show a ceiling to his ability? It’s one thing to outbox Oscar Valdez by playing it safe and smart it’s another thing to not to even attempt to hurt or clearly dominate a round when facing a level down. Shakur will get his chance to fight stiffer comp in Jamel Herring.
Herring’s record is a bit deceiving in two folds because of the losses he took a few years ago and the quality wins he has earned since. It appears that Herring is a different fighter at 130 than he was at 135. Not just in the ring but outside having gone through a ton of stress-induced situations many of us would have folded over. Beyond the struggles and wartime experience outside the ring, Herring has settled in quite nicely as a boxer. His two losses at 135 came against the underrated Denis Shafikov and the other to a good fighter in Ladarius Miller. Herring got three wins under his belt which set up his move to Top Rank from Al Haymon’s PBC.
He once again had a big opportunity fighting for a belt at junior lightweight challenging Masayuki Ito. This time when faced with adversity similar to the Shafikov bout he came through with fly colors. 3 more wins later and here Herring stands in yet another underdog scenario. It’s easy to be nonchalant about his biggest named win over Carl Frampton. Let’s face it Carl was really a small featherweight and his best days are behind him. His two other wins don’t add up to a whole lot but to be fair it’s not like Shakur has bigger wins.
Can Jamel use his size and 4-inch reach to fluster Shakur? This boxing podcaster doesn’t see Herring using his reach on the outside all that much. One that’s not his style and two it will likely be Shakur looking to fight on the outside. This is the topic of the size is getting brought up by many people in the industry saying that Herring will need to use the size to rough up Shakur. Beyond going to the body and punching on the break with his free hand I don’t really see Herring using an abundance of roughhouse tactics.
Herring like Shakur has good fundamentals and per usually but especially in this matchup the jab will be a sticking point. Can Herring disrupt the pace and fighting pattern of Stevenson? If so he will be able to close the distance inch by inch possibly frustrating Shakur which could lead to mistakes. Keeping a steady but not out-of-character punch rate to make Shakur work more thus creating openings, along with consistent body punching is a winning recipe for Herring.
Will we finally see Stevenson put it all together and break out of his so-called funk in the last few fights? He’s defiantly capable of putting on a complete performance but will he be satisfied just to win the rounds narrowly? At the end of the day, Stevenson’s timing and footwork combined with counters and potshots from range will be enough to win this fight cleanly. This hack-of-a-scribe really respects Herring as a boxer and a man however look for Stevenson to raise his game to a new level partly because it’s a big spotlight fight and also Herring bringing it out of him from his will to win.
My Official Prediction is Shakur Stevenson by Unanimous Decision.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Com Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio