BY JON UDDIN ✒
It’s the first title defense for WBO Super-Featherweight Champion 🇺🇸Jamel Herring (20-2-0, 10KO👊) Saturday night. The “Fighting Marine” will take on 🇺🇸Lamont Roach Jr. (19-0-1, 7KO👊) a five year pro out of Washington D.C. who is getting his first crack at a World Title.
Herring upset Japan’s Masayuki Ito by a clear unanimous decision back in May to win the belt, fulfilling a lifelong dream of being world champion and honoring his late daughter Ariyanah in the process. After suffering losses to Denis Shafikov and Ladarius Miller in the Lightweight division, Herring made the move down to super featherweight and has found new life, shaking the idea that the highest level for his career was that of a solid “B side” challenger.
After the win, a fight with Roach was not the first option for the 34 year old southpaw as he wanted to jump right into the toughest of challenges, that being a title unification with WBC Champion 🇲🇽Miguel Berchelt, something Herring thought would be fairly easy to do with both fighters being under the Top Rank promotional banner. To his surprise, Berchelt, who was in attendance at the Ito fight, and had previously stated that he wanted the winner, now doesn’t appear to be interested in the fight at all. Now Herring will continue plugging away as he steps in the ring to fulfill his mandatory challenge in a fight with Roach.
Roach, 24, is ranked #2 by the WBO, and has been a prospect slowly climbing the rankings to contender status the past few years. He is coming off of a controversial decision win over Jonathan Oquendo this past May that was met with boos when the scores were read as it appeared to most watching that Oquendo’s aggression controlled the fight throughout.
As technically sound as Roach has shown himself to be, nothing in his skillset, be it hand speed, power or defense jumps out as particularly strong, and in previous fights there hasn’t been the killer instinct to hit another gear and finish an opponent off. The Oquendo fight also raised the question if he has the strength to either impose his will on an opponent, or keep an aggressive fighter off of him. On the plus side for Roach, three of his last four bouts have been against southpaws, so that won’t be a brand new challenge for him as he steps in against Herring.
Expect Herring to use his length, a 3 inch height advantage and 2 inch edge in reach, to keep Roach at bay and rack up the rounds, keeping the fight at the distance he wants it to be. I don’t see an action packed fight, but I do expect it to be a long frustrating twelve rounds for Roach as Herring works his way to a unanimous decision win and retain his title.
Jamel Herring vs Lamont Roach takes place Saturday at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, California and will air on ESPN+ at 10pm.