Jamel Herring is now pressed with his most difficult choice to make on the heels of securing the biggest win of his career.
A rousing 6th round knockout of former two-division champion Carl Frampton extended Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title reign. The question is for how much longer, though nothing to do with his in-ring ability. The 35-year-old southpaw will now have 30 days to determine—in writing—his commitment to next honor his overdue mandatory title defense or else vacate the belt.
Former featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8KOs) is the current WBO junior lightweight mandatory challenger in waiting, with the sanctioning body conditionally granting permission for Herring to enter Saturday’s title defense versus Frampton (28-3, 16KOs). In an agreement dated on March 23 and submitted to Hall of Fame promoters Bob Arum (Herring) and Frank Warren (Frampton)—a copy of which has been obtained by BoxingScene.com—the WBO called for the winner of Herring-Frampton to next commit to facing the winner of an ordered interim title fight between Stevenson and Jeremiah Nakathila to avoid being stripped of the title.
“The winner of the Herring/Frampton bout must declare in writing within 30 days of their bout their intention to either (i) fight the winner of the WBO Interim Jr. Lightweight Championship bout between Shakur Stevenson and Jeremiah Nakathila scheduled for Saturday, June 12, 2021; or (ii) vacate the WBO Jr. Lightweight Championship [t]itle,” noted Luis Batista Salas, chairman of WBO Championship committee noted to all involved parties.
A location has not been revealed for the bout between Stevenson and Nakathila, which has yet to be formally announced.
Stevenson accepted the fight in lieu of having Herring stripped for failure to honor his mandatory commitment. Legal representatives for the former WBO featherweight titleholder sought to do just that earlier this year. Herring was previously ordered to have completed his previously approved voluntary defense versus Frampton no later than December 31, 2020. The pandemic caused several delays, including the cancelation of their planned clash last June in Belfast.
The WBO noted the ongoing global health crisis as means to permit Herring an extended deadline to complete the contractually agreed upon fight with Frampton. However, the sanctioning body will not allow another exception to be filed.
Herring is officially on the clock, having previously acknowledged the due title defense versus Stevenson. However, a two-belt unification with WBC titlist Oscar Valdez (30-0, 23KOs) is the fight he most craves before moving up to lightweight.
Unfortunately, he cannot have his cake and eat it too.
“If the winner of Herring/Frampton does not declare in writing within 30 days after their bout their intention to fight the winner of Stevenson/Nakathila, the WBO Jr. Lightweight Championship [t]itle shall be declared Vacant,” noted the sanctioning body. “The Stevenson/Nakathila bout shall be sanctioned for the WBO Jr. Lightweight World Championship.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox