By: Hans Themistode
After going the first four years and 15 fights of his career as an undefeated prospect, WBO Super Featherweight champion Jamel Herring picked up the first loss of his career against Denis Shafikov via stoppage back in 2016.
Some of the luster on his career was wiped away, but not all of it.
Herring would bounce back in his next contest against Art Hovhannisyan before losing yet again to Ladarius Miller. The book was seemingly out on Herring, he was a solid fighter but nothing special. After three straight wins, Herring managed to pull his way to a mandatory position against Masayuki Ito in mid 2019.
Not many were giving Herring much of a chance, but to him, the thought of him leaving that ring against Ito without a world title was out of the question. After 12 rounds, Herrings resiliency was rewarded with a title win. The credit for his aforementioned title doesn’t just go to the hard work he did inside of the ring, but it was more so because of the changes he made outside of it.
“I had to stay hungry and take a step back and look at my career and where it was going,” said Herring. “I had to make some changes within myself and the people that were around me. Around that time I was Al Haymon and PBC. It was nothing against Al at all, he even offered me another fight after the Miller loss but I just felt like I had to hit the reset button overall and take a step back for a while. After one or two losses it’s usually over, so I had to be smart with my approach.”
Apart of his approach included mental strength. Often times a fighter associates his entire identity with his undefeated record. Once that spotless record is gone, it will never come back. In order for Herring to rebuild himself he first needed to ensure that his head was where it needed to be.
“I think for some people they just lose the motivation and once a fighter gets to that point it’s hard to build that fighter back up because it starts with you first. You can have the best team behind you but if you don’t want to do it and make those sacrifices then it’s almost impossible. I was down but I wasn’t out. I knew that I had what it takes but I had to show it.”
Confidence is a funny thing. Once it’s there, a fighter will believe that they can defeat anyone. Without it, a win is almost impossible. For Herring, he may now be associated with the word champion, but that doesn’t mean he believes he’s the best in the world just yet.
“I’m a realest. I just got my belt. The man that I’ve been calling out for the longest is the best in the division to me and that’s Miguel Berchelt. Tevin Farmer is doing his thing too. They’ve been doing it longer than me but as a fighter I do believe that I can beat those guys.”
A date with Berchelt or Farmer next doesn’t seem likely, but Herring won’t have to look far or wide for his next worthy contender.
“I’m looking forward to facing Carl Frampton sometime this year. We both want the fight so hopefully we can make it happen.”
With Herrings 2020 seemingly all booked, the only request he would like to make is to continue to fight great competition.
“I don’t want to just milk my belt. I want people to look at me as a real world champion and in order for that to happen I have to fight the best. I think that’s what will happen this year.”