Jamel Herring ended Carl Frampton’s boxing career on Saturday night when, in a victory as clinical as it was brutal, he stopped the 34-year-old challenger from Belfast in the sixth round to retain his WBO super featherweight world title. Frampton hoped to make history in the unlikely setting of a Dubai desert resort by becoming the first fighter from the island of Ireland to win a world title at three different weights. His dreams were ruined by the former US Marine who dominated the contest with a brilliant display.
Herring suffered a cut above his right eye in the fourth round but, despite blood gushing from the wound, he never seemed to be in serious trouble, unlike Frampton, who was outmatched and injured long before the end. A minute after the sixth round, Herring forced him to stop again with very precise punches. Frampton tried to pressure the American, but, with his back to the ropes, Herring landed the punch that, in effect, ended the contest with a withering left uppercut. The impact was so shocking that Frampton seemed to collapse in slow motion, like a building that had been detonated from within. It was a harrowing sight when he hit the mat hard.
Frampton was on his knees at the count of five. He looked directly into the referee’s face when he heard “seven … eight …” and then, glassy-eyed, Frampton stood up. He seemed terribly unstable when the referee asked him if he was fit to continue. He nodded, but with an expression of shocked resignation on his bruised and flushed face.
Herring steamed forward, knowing the end was near. Frampton threw some desperate punches, but it was a devastating cause. Herring soon landed another crunchy left uppercut. Combinations flew from Herring and, when another big left hand shook Frampton, his coach Jamie Moore had seen enough. The towel fluttered mercifully inside the ring.
Frampton’s fight and career after 31 fights and nearly 12 years as a professional, are over.
Frampton held on to the ropes as he waited for his team to comfort him. On the opposite side of the ring, Herring screamed with joy before falling to his knees to say a tearful prayer.
The 35-year-old champion was always in control of his third title defense. He is a much bigger man than Frampton, with a much longer reach and a five-inch height advantage over the little fighter from Belfast, who is just 5-foot-5. The difference was decisive from the beginning. Herring won the first three rounds clearly while boxing from a distance, jabbing at Frampton’s face with depressing regularity for the vast army of fans of the Northern Irishman who took one last look at him.
There were only brief moments of uncertainty for Herring when he cut his eye. He looked surprised as blood ran down his face. Frampton was encouraged enough to win the fourth and only round of the fight. But Brian McIntyre and Red Spikes, in the American corner, strengthened Herring and the pattern of competition resumed. Herring was well ahead in points when the violent finish was sealed.
Herring has endured a lot of pain in his life. He made two tours of Iraq and his combat experiences marked him. Herring, who survived weeks under fire from mortar rounds and the deadly threat of snipers, was tormented by watching a bomb disposal technician fly. She suffered from PTSD, but the darkest moment of her life began in July 2009 when she lost her daughter, Ariyanah, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Herring took years to recover, but he has become one of the most humble and inspiring world champions.
Frampton admitted: “I was hit by the best man.” He was also on the verge of tears when he said, “I am deeply upset. I said that I would retire if I lost this fight and that is what I will do. My wife and children have made so many sacrifices. I have missed them so much. I just want to dedicate my life to my family. Boxing has been good for me. It has also been bad for me. “
Frampton can be proud of his career. He is a working class Protestant from Tiger’s Bay, while his wife, Christine, is a Catholic from West Belfast. They have never cared about their different backgrounds, but Frampton has always drawn his passionate fans from both sides of the old sectarian divide. His impact on Northern Ireland outside of the ring has been admirable and enduring. Frampton will eventually bounce back from this final defeat and will find solace in the much sweeter memories of all he has accomplished as a two-time world champion.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism