Jamel Herring never looked to be the breakout star of the U.S.’s 2012 Olympic team. That was always going to be Errol Spence Jr., with Marcus Browne, Rau’Shee Warren and Joseph Diaz Jr. good bets to become world champions. But Herring was still the feed-good story of the team: a Marine with two combat tours.
He turned professional in December 2012 and ran his record to 15-0 with 8 KOs. Last Saturday night in Reading, Pennsylvania, he got his first genuine step-up fight, against two-time world title challenger Denis Shafikov. The water proved to be too deep and the current too quick.
I do not pay a tremendous amount of attention to betting lines, but I’ve read that Shafikov was the underdog for this bout. It’s the sort of information that tempts me to starting betting boxing. Because Herring being the favorite for this bout was clearly a case of the average schmuck who bets boxing not really knowing what the hell he is looking at.
Shafikov is a native of the rugged Ural Mountains and a classic old Soviet-style professional. He’s tough enough to apply pressure and smart enough to know when to do it. His trainer is Abel Sanchez, the man who transformed Gennady Golovkin into a Central-Asian version of Julio Cesar Chavez.
Coming into this bout, Shafikov had been in the ring with outstanding competition. He lost competitive decisions to Miguel Vazquez and Rances Barthelemy. He’s held a slew of regional belts, from the Baltic to across all of Europe. He hasn’t been defeating world beaters, but he’s been handling opponents who have deep amateur careers like his own.
Jamel Herring had faced nobody before Shafikov that would qualify as more than a stepping stone or trial horse. The vast majority of his resume were club fighters–almost exclusively opponents who had never faced a fighter with anything like the technical education that Herring brough to the ring.
Herring made the kind of tough stand you would expect from him, but he was out of his depth all night against Shafikov. The Russian dropped him in Round 2, battered him all night, and finished him in the 10th and final round.