Carl Frampton’s quest to become Northern Ireland’s first-ever three-division titlist is no laughing matter, though his recent comments were amusing to his next opponent.
The former two-division titlist from Belfast is brimming with confidence ahead of his forthcoming showdown with reigning 130-pound titlist Jamel Herring. A working date of February 6 is in place at a location to be determined in the United Kingdom, though the date is fluid at the moment as the fight has already moved at least three times in the past several months.
Whenever the two collide, Frampton (28-2, 16KOs) remains convinced that the belt will remain on his side of the pond.
“The chance to become a three-weight world champion and go down in history as the first Irishman to be a three-world champion… that’s something that I don’t want to give up,” Frampton told The Irish News. “People talk about him being a U.S. Marine and being mentally strong but there’s not a chance that I’ll let this guy beat me. Not a chance in hell. No matter what he brings I feel like I’ve got an answer for it.”
The defending champion is fully prepared to challenge those claims.
“When I read those comments, I sit back and smile,” Herring told BoxingScene.com. “I respect him as a man, a fighter, and his achievements but when I read that article, it clearly sounded like a man who’s trying to boost himself up by any means. I’m glad he’s confident, because once I win I don’t want to hear any excuses. If I wasn’t so sure of myself, I would’ve hesitated to even travel overseas for this fight!
“Let’s not forget I agreed to travel to his backyard earlier this year, but the pandemic hit. Then, I was affected personally by the pandemic, when I caught the [coronavirus], and dealt with setbacks of my own. Even with my personal ups and downs, I still pursued the fight, and even agreed to travel once again for the fight!”
The two were due to collide on June 13 in Frampton’s Belfast hometown, only for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to ruin those plans. Both boxers were instead afforded separate ESPN-televised appearances three weeks apart. Frampton settled for a late replacement in Darren Traynor, whom he stopped inside of seven rounds on August 15 at the famed York Hall in Bethnal Green, England.
Herring’s night at the office wasn’t quite as pleasurable, suffering a scratched cornea and cuts over his right eye caused by excessive headbutts from challenger Jonathan Oquendo. The bout was stopped after eight rounds, when Oquendo was disqualified for what was deemed by referee Tony Weeks as excessive fouling.
The anti-climactic ending only added to a frustrating storyline which included two postponements due to Herring (22-2, 10KOs) testing positive for COVID-19. Nevertheless, the 35-year old southpaw from the Coram section of Long Island, New York persevered in the second defense of the title he claimed in a convincing 12-round decision win over Japan’s Masayuki Ito last May in Kissimmee, Florida.
Through all he’s been through in life, there is very little that Herring has yet to experience. Two tours in Iraq as a decorated U.S. Marine, captain of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team which competed in London, the death of his first daughter at just two months of age, a pair of early career losses—suffice to say, Herring has earned the right to enter any fight confident of overcoming any situation.
“I don’t care who he’s sparring, or what they compliment him on in sparring as well,” notes Herring. “Because truth be told, I’ve already dealt some damage to a few of my sparring partners alone, but you don’t get cool points based off of that. It’s all about putting everything together when it counts! People truly don’t understand how hungry I am for this fight, and what I plan on doing come fight night. I don’t see him outboxing me, and if he wants to make it into a toe-to-toe battle that’s fine as well.
“My trainers are already placing multiple game plans together, because we may see various versions of him in February, but that’s alright; this is why we train. Overall I couldn’t care less about what he or anyone has to say, just be prepared fight night, because I don’t do all the back and forth talking. People who’ve been watching me train these past few weeks know, I’m all about business.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for @BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox