CArl Frampton, at the age of 34, will attempt to become the first boxer from the island of Ireland to win a world title at three different weights when he steps into the ring against Jamel Herring, the WBO super featherweight champion, in Dubai on Saturday night. . Herring is a year older and both men are heading down the well for one of the last times after long, hard races.
Frampton has insisted that if his challenge fails, he will retire. His remaining ambitions in boxing are to become a world champion and then fight at home in Belfast in front of his fans who have always crossed the sectarian division. If Herring wins it, Frampton admits the game will end because he would have to “go around the house” to earn another shot at a different world title and, at his age, he is no longer willing to put his health at risk. .
Herring’s loss could also push him into retirement. Herring, a former US Marine who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after a terrible tour of duty in Iraq, has endured a life of trial. The lowest point came in July 2009, when she lost her daughter, Ariyanah, to sudden infant death syndrome. Herring took years to recover and last summer he told me: “I still have memories of his tragic death. They also come from my time in the war in Iraq and when I lost my best friend, Stephen. All those negative things hit me one after another and knocked me down. My dreams turned into nightmares. I was depressed. At one point it was unbearable. “
Herring changed his life and, 10 years later, in May 2019 he became a world champion when he won his WBO title after beating Masayuki Ito. It was a sweet triumph because, aside from his personal tribulations, Herring had lost twice in 2017. Fighting at lightweight he was defeated by unknown Ladarius Miller and Denis Shafikov. Herring was heading down a path of darkness until those defeats forced him to rethink. He dropped a division to super featherweight where he immediately looked more comfortable. Herring’s last six fights ended in victory, with the most recent trio being the competition for the world title.
Frampton is more experienced at the highest level despite the fact that their respective records (28-2 for the Belfast man and 22-2 for the Cincinnati champion) appear comparable. But Frampton has fought in seven world bouts and traded blows with a higher class of opponent.
I was lucky enough to be with Frampton in his dressing room on the best night of his career in July 2016 when, at the Barclay Center in New York, he moved up in weight to win the WBA featherweight world title against the renowned Léo Santa Cross. . It was an unforgettable fight as Frampton found incredible reserves of desire, guts and sheer ability to win a fascinating battle. Witnessing his steely preparations, in the last lonely hours before stepping into the ring, as well as the exhausted celebrations afterward, and until the next day in New York were privileged moments. He also provided a graphic insight into how boxing wears out its great fighters.
Frampton lost the rematch six months later, on points in Las Vegas, and his career has been spotty in six subsequent bouts over the past four years. Another record, when he beat Nonito Donaire in an exciting contest three years ago this month, was finally overshadowed by the loss to Josh Warrington in December 2018. Frampton lasted all 12 rounds, but it seemed like he was getting hurt every time Warrington landed. a decent one. Shooting. It was a painful loss for Frampton, who seemed like a shadow of himself. He has had two routine wins over modest opponents since then, against Tyler McCreary and Darren Traynor, but Frampton promises he will draw inspiration against Herring.
There is a lot of respect and even affection between the two men, and they are likely to become friends and reunite in later life. But Herring has politely pointed out that he has been training alongside Terence Crawford, and even sparring with the WBO welterweight world champion, who is one of the top three pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Herring also has a great height and reach advantage. At 5 feet 10 inches, he is five inches taller than Frampton. His longer arms give him a 72-inch reach compared to Frampton’s 65-inch stretch. It might be telling that while Herring once campaigned as a lightweight, Frampton won his first world title in 2014 in superbantam, three divisions lighter. So the American is much bigger.
Herring is tough and determined, but he fell ill with Covid-19 last year. The lackluster and fatigued performances of fighters like Warrington and Alexander Povetkin, who were knocked out in January and March respectively after battling Covid last year, were worrying signs that boxers may be severely affected by the virus. Herring looked unimpressive in his last fight, when his opponent Jonathan Oquendo was disqualified in the eighth round.
Only Herring knows if he has fully recovered from the impact of the virus but, even if he has, Frampton is likely to get up for one last big night in the ring. It might be a tough 12-round battle, but he has the knowledge of the big fights, an effective jab, the combinations, and the hurtful body shots that can wear Herring down on points. Unless time has finally eroded all of these attributes, Frampton hopes to make history and seal his legacy.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism