Jamel Herring arrived in Las Vegas again Sunday for his fight against Jonathan Oquendo.
Herring made that same trip from Omaha, where he trains, early in July, only to leave town without actually opposing Oquendo. The WBO junior lightweight champion learned he tested positive again for COVID-19 the day he was supposed to weigh in for a bout that was scheduled for July 14.
That caused the second postponement of Herring-Oquendo in less than three weeks because Herring failed a coronavirus test. It was postponed the first time, from July 2 to July 14, on June 23.
“I’m just grateful to get back in the ring,” Herring told BoxingScene.com. “Hopefully, the third time’s a charm.”
The 34-year-old Herring (21-2, 10 KOs) went home to Cincinnati for two weeks after his July 14 fight versus Puerto Rico’s Oquendo (31-6, 19 KOs) was postponed. The 2012 U.S. Olympian rested and spent time with his family before returning to Omaha late in July to resume training for a 12-round, 130-pound title fight ESPN+ will stream Saturday night from MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas (7:30 p.m. ET; 4:30 p.m. PT).
“I just got tested a few days ago, and my results came back negative,” Herring said. “With that being said, I’m in a positive mindset, that we won’t have any setbacks or any issues before I enter ‘The Bubble.’ But overall, I just continued to take care of myself and stayed out of harm’s way. I’m still wearing a mask when I go out in public places, like the store. If anything, I made less trips and if I didn’t have to go anywhere, I stayed indoors, where it was safe, and I just stayed to myself.”
Herring has learned a lot about COVID-19 throughout his two-month ordeal. More than anything, Herring, a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, has come to expect the unexpected.
“My last time around,” Herring recalled, “when I tested positive in ‘The Bubble,’ the very same day I got the call, which was the same day as the weigh-in, I went to get the antibody test. And the antibody test basically proved I had the antibody to fight the virus. Then, the next day, which would’ve been fight night, I took another test in Las Vegas for the coronavirus, and that came back negative. So, sometimes it can be frustrating.
“But I have faith that this time around everything will run smoothly, which was why [promoter] Top Rank wanted to push the fight back a little further, to make sure that we wouldn’t have any issues. But the virus is still new, so we don’t exactly know how it works. But I have faith that this time around, the third time will be the charm and I’ll be fine.”
Herring is confident he’ll pass his remaining COVID-19 tests in Las Vegas in part because middleweight contender Rob Brant and others that Herring trained alongside in Omaha didn’t have any issues in “The Bubble” recently.
“Sometimes the cells are still shedding,” Herring explained, “and you still have traces of the virus, even though you can’t spread it. … It’s crazy, but I’m just hoping that I don’t have the bad luck of another test popping up positive.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.