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Jamel Herring ready to take on Jonathan Oquendo after two COVID-19 postponements

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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WBO super featherweight champion Jamel ‘Semper Fi’ Herring 21-2 (10) will finally get the chance to make the second defence of his world title against Jonathan Oquendo 31-6 (19) at ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night.

The 34-year-old Herring was originally scheduled to defend against Puerto Rico’s Oquendo, 37, on both July 2 and July 14 before both dates were scrapped due to his positive test results for the coronavirus.

“I just feel like everything happens for a reason. It’s not like I was the only one suffering. It’s a global pandemic, so I can’t really complain too much. I’m just glad that I have a great team,” Herring said.

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“Going through a global pandemic, I was still fortunate to have training camp. We have a gym. My strength coach, Jamie Belt, is here, [assistant trainer] Esau Dieguez as well. Being around [WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford], Steven Nelson, who is also fighting this weekend, Rob Brant, Maurice Hooker, and so many guys coming in that gym…

“I’m just grateful despite all the setbacks, I’m still able to handle business. I sparred every other day. We have a track. To me, it’s just another day at the job, and I’m just happy to be here.

“All I need to hear is Bomac’s [Brian McIntyre’s] voice in the corner, Red Spikes, and Esau, and I’m fine with that. [Bomac] will probably be the highlight of the show, to be honest with you.

“Any fighter will tell you, once they get in there, it’s tunnel vision anyway. My job is to focus on what’s in front of me. I can’t really worry about what’s going on on the outside. It’s just a great opportunity for fighters to be back in the ring, period.

“Despite having no crowd, we’re still fortunate to be doing what we love and do for a living. That’s all that matters to me.

“All I can focus on is this fight, getting to even right now on this stage. Everything was a process. I’m not really worried about what’s going on. With this series, we’ve seen many, many upsets because fighters tend to maybe not train their best or look ahead to things.”

Southpaw Herring won the WBO strap against Japan’s Masayuki Ito in May last year before defending against Lamont Roach in November.

Oquendo has lost just one of his last six fights when Roach outpointed him over 10 rounds 16 months ago.

“I was disappointed [when the July 14 fight was postponed] right before the weigh-ins,” Oquendo said.

“I knew things were going to be OK. I understand the position of my opponent. I was worried about the fight never happening, but I had faith in Top Rank, and I know they do a good job. I’m ready to go for it Saturday night.

“I want to congratulate Herring. I know he’s a great fighter. He deserves everything he has right now, and I will try my best on Saturday night. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity.

“I’m 37 years old, but mentally, I’m prepared. I believe this is the perfect time for me to fight for a world title. I want to show the world what I’m capable of doing.

“Health and safety is the most important thing. I’m good. Herring is good. I can’t wait to fight.”

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