Jamel Herring knows what most people are thinking.
The junior lightweight titleholder’s reign is about to end at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, most believe. The oddsmakers have made him about a 6½-1 underdog on Saturday against gifted challenger Shakur Stevenson, who appears to be a superstar waiting to happen.
That’s fine with the former U.S. Marine, a late bloomer who has had to overcome other challenges – including losses in 2016 and 2017 — to become a world champion at 33.
Stevenson? You’ll forgive him if he’s not intimidated.
“The odds just play to my story,” he said. “I’ve always been an underdog, not just in boxing but in life, so I don’t get into the oddsmaker thing. It doesn’t bother me at all.”
Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) has been in big fights. He easily outpointed Masayuki Ito to win the vacant WBO title in May 2019 and has successfully defended three times, including sixth-round knockout of former Fighter of the Year Carl Frampton this past April in Dubai.
The fight with Stevenson is nothing out of the ordinary for him.
“We’re just two top competitors in the division trying to prove who is the best,” he said. “It just feels like another elite level fight in a loaded and talented division, so we just take it one fight at a time.
“We put all personal feelings to the side and just go to work and do what we have to do.”