Jamel ‘Semper Fi’ Herring 20-2 (10) upset WBO super featherweight champion Masayuki ‘The Judge’ Ito 25-2-1 (13) via unanimous decision in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,912 at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Florida on Saturday night.
The 33-year-old southpaw claimed the belt by scores of 116-112 and 118-110 twice.
“I want to dedicate this fight to my daughter, Ariyanah, who passed away from SIDs. Tonight would have been her 10th birthday, and I dedicate this title to her,” said Herring, a former US Marine.
“Ito was a tough competitor, but I always believed I could win a world title. This is a dream come true, and to do this on Memorial Day weekend makes it even sweeter.”
Japan’s Ito, 28, who was making the second defense of his world title, had some success in the early rounds but could never quite figure out the southpaw puzzle of Herring, who finished the stronger of the two.
“When we signed Jamel, a lot of people had their doubts, but he showed the heart of a world champion,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He’s a true Marine and an American hero. We are so proud of what this young man has accomplished.”
Also on the card former two-division world champion Jose ‘Sniper’ Pedraza 26-2 (13) knocked out Mexican veteran Antonio Lozada Jr 40-3-1 (24) in the ninth round to claim the vacant WBO Latino lightweight title.
“I would like to be world champion again at 135, maybe make a title defence and then move up to 140,” said Pedraza, who was coming off a 12-round decision loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko last December.
“Lozada was a tough opponent who came to fight with all of his heart. He was a great test for me, and I passed it with flying colours. I can’t wait to see what is next.”