By: Hans Themistode
Jamel Herring had an unspoken confidence about him heading into his WBO super featherweight title defense against mandatory challenger Shakur Stevenson. That self-belief, however, was immediately zapped away the moment the opening bell rang.
Despite sharing a cordial relationship outside the ring, there was nothing friendly about their encounter. In front of a mostly sold-out crowd at State Farm Arena, in Atlanta Georgia, Stevenson came out aggressive in the opening period. Known mostly for his ability to box and move, Stevenson imposed his will early on.
The former 2016 Olympic silver medalist ripped off several hard shots to the mid-section of Herring and continued with a healthy barrage upstairs. Herring, on the other hand, appeared content with walking through fire as he covered up and allowed the punches to glance off his gloves.
Stevenson continued his assault into the second round. Although Herring appeared to be just fine standing in the comfort zone of Stevenson, the former featherweight world titlist made him pay. Stevenson moved away from the unsuccessful straight rights and lefts and opted to curl his punches around the guard of his man. Stevenson’s newfound attack worked perfectly as Herring was repeatedly battered and walked down.
With an ever-growing glow of confidence, Stevenson began putting his shots together even more. The young and brash multiple division titlist picked up the pace in the middle rounds as he continued to butcher and pick apart Herring on the outside.
In the midst of a dominant performance, Stevenson was taken aback in the seventh. A visibly frustrated Herring pounded his gloves together and began to let his hands go. For the first time all fight long, Stevenson began taking several steps back as Herring continued to push the pace.
Despite Herring’s ability to adjust on the fly, Stevenson quickly followed suit. He met Herring in the center of the ring and exchanged huge shots. At the start of the eighth, Herring’s eye looked like it had seen better days.
With a chance to close the show, Stevenson stepped on the gas in the following two rounds. The result was one he was hoping for, as referee Mark Nelson waved off their contest in the tenth round.
Although the pair hurled several verbal jabs at one another throughout the entire build-up, they embraced soon after and squashed their differences.
As for what could be next for Stevenson, Herring reiterated several times over that Stevenson has the ability to take over the 130-pound division.
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