By: Hans Themistode
Shakur Stevenson was left grinning from ear to ear once the ink dried. The former Olympic Silver medalist and one-time 126-pound titlist, officially signed his part of a bout agreement to take on WBO belt holder Jamel Herring. Shortly after, Herring placed his pen to paper to make their showdown a guarantee.
Now, the two will face off on October 23rd, in Atlanta Georgia.
Since capturing the WBO super featherweight championship against Masayuki Ito in May of 2019, Herring has gone on to defend his world title a total of three times. In his most recent trip to the ring, Herring took on former multiple division champion Carl Frampton. Despite holding a world title, Herring walked into their showdown as a slight underdog.
Despite the betting public expecting him to lose, Herring rose to the occasion and delivered a career-defining performance, dropping Frampton twice before ultimately stopping him in the sixth. While his victory over Frampton is widely considered the biggest of his career, Herring will once again attempt to defend his title as a prohibited underdog.
From the moment Stevenson dropped his protective headgear and turned pro in 2017, the New Jersey native has dominated the competition. In only his 13th professional fight, Stevenson captured the vacant WBO featherweight title. The former Olympic Silver medalist failed to defend his newly won trinket, however, as he opted to move up in weight.
Once Stevenson made the trek four pounds north, he immediately became the mandatory challenger to Herring. Originally, the two never appeared in a rush to square off in the ring. Having spent numerous training camps together and admittedly good friends, there was never an urgency to move their friendship to the side to swap fist.
Still, with the opportunity to become a two-division world champion before the age of 25, Stevenson continually called out Herring and demanded that he gave him his mandated title shot.
Herring though, candidly expressed more of an interest in facing WBC belt holder Oscar Valdez. Ultimately, the former Marine still has Valdez in his sights but will be forced to take on Stevenson beforehand.
While Herring knows good and well that Stevenson is an immense talent, the 35-year-old isn’t counting himself out, even if most of the boxing world is.
“I know it will be his toughest fight,” said Herring to ESPN. “I’ve been in there with better guys than he’s fought by far.”