WBO Junior Lightweight champion Jamel Herring dropped Jonathan Oquendo early, but allowed the fight’s second half to become ugly before DQ ending after round eight
LAS VEGAS (September 5, 2020) — This WBO Junior Lightweight title defense took over two months to make happen, as well as a third fight date. The reason being, a couple of positive Covid-19 tests for the defending champion Jamel Herring.
Both Herring and Jonathan Oquendo finally made it through a week’s worth of protocol inside Top Rank’s Bubble at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fighting at unfavorable tale-of-the-tape optics, the 37-year old Puerto Rican was a considerable under dog. However, Herring needed to avoid any hiccups on the way to securing a noteworthy fight against Carl Frampton.
Oquendo (31-7, 19 KOs) knew where he needed to get to in order to trouble Herring. He bulled his way forward and closed the distance much earlier than expected. As Oquendo erased space as Herring was attempting to find his rhythm, action through the first two-plus rounds was choppy.
Halfway through the third Herring (23-2, 10 KOs) brilliantly placed left uppercut stopped Oquendo in his tracks. Oquendo got up from the canvas with about 75 seconds to go, and basically resumed his tactics.
Herring, now aware of how his success would come, continued to make Oquendo pay in the fourth round.
Herring varied his punches in round five. Sometimes he disrupted Oquendo’s first move with a punch. Other times he caught the Puerto Rican just before getting inside. A missed left hook exposed the champion to a head butt that opened up a serious cut over his right eye. Oquendo’s tendency to lead with head didn’t go without a warning from referee Tony Weeks, and after the round he deducted a point from the challenger for the intentional clash.
The 34-year old southpaw’s cut management was exceptional through the subsequent round. Oquendo’s effort persisted despite finding himself in sizable deficit at the fight’s midpoint.
Herring didn’t step around and pop Oquendo as much in round seven. He opted to stand his ground, try to keep his head and injured eye off to the side, and then wrestle as needed.
In round eight, the champion’s inability to establish his jab allowed Oquendo to get inside repeatedly. The challenger’s efforts – whether by butt, punch or incidental contact – opened the injury up badly. Herring complained of not being able to see out of his eye at the end of the round. After the fight was stopped by the ringside Dr. high drama ensued.
Weeks and the Nevada State Athletic Commission official discussed whether the fight should end in a disqualification or go to a technical decision. The key detail was the fact Weeks ruled the head butt that caused the cut an intentional foul. After further prolonged discussion “repeated intentional head butts” declared Herring the winner by DQ according to the unified rules.
After the fight Herring expressed his disappointment with the outcome, as well as the fact he played a part in the fight becoming so ugly over the back-end of the fight. The fight with Frampton remains a possibility, and now Herring heads into that matchup with a new set of questions. Being able to answer those questions against Frampton, whenever it does happen, is better than the alternative.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank