IF integrity, honor, and civility – virtues that would normally be rewarded in the more respectable avenues in life – had any currency in boxing, Jamel Herring, Mr. Nice Guy personified, would already be a shoo-in for the lacquered halls of Canastota. But good attitude alone does not generate more power in a left cross or improve the punch resistance in one’s chin. The cruel truism in the sport is that it is fundamentally agnostic as it pertains to matters of morality. The arc of the boxing universe is long, and it rarely (read never) bends toward justice. And so boxing’s callous nature was on display once again Saturday night at the State Farm Arena, where the 35-year-old WBO belt-holder Herring, owner of the most heartfelt backstory in the sport, was bullwhipped, round after round, by the insolent 24-year-old challenger Shakur Stevenson – who not too long ago was making TMZ headlines for an altercation in a Miami parking garage – during their all-southpaw junior lightweight title bout.
The oil-slick Stevenson dominated from the opening bell, hacking away at Herring with henpecking right jabs and blistering straight lefts, all the while managing to evade any incoming fire. Eventually, midway through the 10th round (set for 12), Stevenson landed a combination on his worn-out and bloodied adversary, compelling referee Mark Nelson to step in and wave off the bout. The official time was 1-30.
With the win, Stevenson, of Newark, New Jersey, becomes a two-weight belt-holder. More importantly, by earning a stoppage over Herring, Stevenson likely quelled, at least temporarily, the criticism stemming from his previous fight that his safety-first style of fighting makes a mockery of the paying audience.
For all his success as a rehabilitated prizefighter the last two years, Herring had no credible answer for Stevenson. Leading into the fight, Herring, who served two tours of duty in Iraq and suffered the abrupt death of an infant daughter, promised he would rough up Stevenson on the inside. But the veteran could never quite produce the dog fight he envisioned.
By the third round, Herring had already absorbed an inordinate number of left hands. A searing right hook by Stevenson toward the end of the round momentarily wobbled Herring.
Herring managed to produce his best efforts in rounds four and five by virtue of charging forward and ripping body shots to the body. But his success was ultimately fleeting. Stevenson answered with clean left hands to the head.
In the second half, a visibly chastened Herring essentially became a walking piñata. Unable to outwork Stevenson the inside, picked apart on the outside, Herring found himself in no man’s land, jitterbugging on the canvas, eating one pinpoint jab after another.
Postfight, Stevenson called out fellow super-featherweight belt-holder to a unification bout.
“There’s only one fight left at the end of the day,” Stevenson said. “It’s the biggest fight at the end of the day. Oscar [Valdez] can’t keep ducking. It’s time for him to fight. There’s nothing else to look forward to. The 130-pound division needs to unify. Let’s get it!”
As for Herring, he seemed to suggest retirement could be his next move.
“I do have to think about my family, especially my two daughters [with] autism,” Herring said. “I gotta start looking out for…them [more].
“At the end of the day I’ve gotta start thinking about the people that really care about me and love me.”
On the Top Rank Promotions undercard, highly regarded welterweight prospect Xander Zayas rebounded from the poorest outing of his nascent career with one of his more complete ones. Zayas pounded Dan Karpency from pillar to post for four rounds of their scheduled six-rounder before Karpency’s corner, during the break leading into the fifth round, notified the referee to put a halt to the fight.
The 19-year-old Puerto Rican drowned the woebegone Karpency all fight long with one flashy combination after another. Zayas’ body shots, in particular, stood out.
Nico Ali Walsh may not even be able to punch his way out of a back alley mugging, but the grandson of Muhammad Ali will not need to worry about encountering anything as perilous as that inside the boxing ring anytime soon. In his second professional fight, the 21-year-old Walsh, the latest souped-up product in boxing, earned a breezy third-round stoppage over James Westley in a middleweight bout (set for four).
Barely 10 seconds into round three, Walsh dropped Westley for the second knockdown in the fight, prompting the latter’s corner to wave the towel. Referee Nate Mann acknowledged the signal and ended the bout 30 seconds into the round.
Walsh, who ate a few right hands for his trouble, scored the first knockdown toward the end of the second round. With his back against the ropes, Walsh drilled Westley with a flush straight right that instantly sent the Ohioan crashing to the canvas.
Walsh was not the only offspring of a boxing legend to earn a kayo on the same night. Evan Holyfield, the son of heavyweight great Evander Holyfield, iced Charles Stanford in the second round (set for six) of a junior middleweight bout. Holyfield, who resides in Houston, had a patchy opening round before he went on, in the following round, to drill Stanford with a left hook-right hand combo round that put the Cincinnati native on the canvas. Referee Nelson waved the bout off immediately. Stanford lay on the canvas for an extended period of time, but he eventually got back on his feet.
The Verdict Stevenson impresses as he takes a key win.
Shakur Stevenson (130lbs), 17-0 (9), w rsf 10 Jamel Herring (129 3/4lbs), 23-3 (11); Xander Zayas (153 1/4lbs), 11-0 (8), w rtd 5 Dan Karpency (153 1/4lbs), 9-4-1 (4); Nico Ali Walsh (162lbs), 2-0 (2) w rsf 3 James Westley II (159 1/2lbs), 1-1; Evan Holyfield (151 1/2lbs), 8-0 (6), w rsf 2 Charles Stanford (151 1/2lbs), 6-4 (3); Troy Isley (156 3/4lbs), 3-0 (2), w rsf 1 Nicholi Navarro (156lbs), 2-2 (2); Antoine Cobb (144 1/4lbs), 1-0 (1), w ko 1 Jerion Campbell (142 1/2lbs), 2-2; Harley Mederos (136lbs), 2-0 (1), w pts 4 Deljerro Revello (135 3/4lbs), 0-2; Haven Brady Jr. (127lbs), 4-0 (3), w pts 4 Roberto Negrete (127lbs), 3-1 (1); Eric Palmer (141lbs), 13-14-5 (1), w pts 6 Roddricus Livsey (142½lbs) , 8-1-1 (5).