THE Osceola Heritage Park arena was packed with Marines. They were there to witness their brother Jamel Herring try to lift the WBO super-featherweight title from Masayuki Ito. Joining them was Herring’s close friend and stablemate Terence Crawford, who sat near the corner and communicated with him throughout the fight.
Herring had additional support as well, but his greatest motivation was to deliver the title as a birthday gift to his daughter Ariyanah, who would have been 10 on this day had she still been alive. Ariyanah died of SIDS in 2009 and has been a source of strength for Herring since.
A veteran who served two tours in Iraq and who captained the United States boxing team in the 2012 London Olympics, underdog Herring had the stars aligned to pull off the upset, which he did by unanimous 12-round decision.