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A Cut Eye Not Nearly Enough to Deter Marine Veteran Jamel Herring

Bernard Fernandez

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The cut was in a troublesome spot, in Jamel Herring’s right eyelid, an area that had been bloodied before, in his most recent fight seven months earlier, against Jonathan Oquendo. Jamel Herring did win that fight, via eighth-round disqualification, as referee Tony Weeks had previously determined that the cut had been opened in the fifth round by an illegal head-butt. But Herring, who was well ahead on all three official scorecards and thus came away with a unanimous-decision victory, did not look as sharp as he might have preferred. Now here he was again, nicked up but clearly winning another fight, against two-division former world champion Carl “The Jackal” Frampton, who had to realize that his best chance at victory – maybe his only chance – was to target the area that was dripping crimson into Herring’s field of vision. The difference is that, this time, the cut had been opened by a punch in the fourth round, not a butt. Had Herring not been able to continue before the conclusion of the 12 scheduled rounds, he might have come away with a dispiriting TKO loss, regardless of what the scorecards might indicate.

There are more than a few fighters who have become overly cautious, to their detriment, when cut, especially if the blood flow limited what they could see of a suddenly emboldened opponent.  Other fighters similarly affected went the other route, abandoning a sound tactical strategy to go all-in for the knockout, the better to eliminate any possibility of losing via stoppage due to a worsening cut. But Jamel Herring, a Marine Corps veteran of two tours of duty in war-torn Iraq, has seen blood before. Lots and lots of blood in places far more dangerous than the ring. He continued to do what he had been doing so capably since the opening bell, fully utilizing his advantages of five inches in height and seven inches in reach, flooring Frampton twice, in the fifth and the sixth rounds, the second knockdown leaving the clearly buzzed challenger reeling, so much so that his trainer, Jamie Moore, threw in the towel, prompting Italian referee Giustino Di Giovanni to wave things off at the 1:40 mark of the sixth of the ESPN+-televised bout from the Caesars Palace Dubai.

“It was just an emotional roller-coaster just to get here,” the 35-year-old Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) said after he had retained his WBC super featherweight title in impressive fashion. “My last outing wasn’t my best. People doubted me. They called me every name in the book. But even with the cut I wasn’t going to give up. I wasn’t going to quit.”

The disappointing outcome for Frampton, 34, who was attempting to become the first Irishman (he is from Belfast, Northern Ireland) to win world championships in three weight classes, also represented something of an emotional roller-coaster, except that his thrill ride had come to an end. The Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2016 Fighter of the Year, he announced his immediate retirement to spend more time with “my beautiful wife and kids,” in addition to complimenting the man who had just conquered him.

“I said before I would retire if I lost this fight, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do,” Frampton announced with the class and dignity he has always demonstrated throughout his commendable career. “I just got beat by the better man. I really struggled to get inside him. He was sharp, shooting from a distance. A perfect game plan. I just got beat. Zero excuses. I had an amazing camp. I came into this fight to win it.”

So did Herring, who had to patiently mark time through two postponements, both owing to his testing positive for COVID-19. But they say all good things come to those who wait, some having nothing to do with his current occupation.

“Some of the criticism of Jamel Herring going into the fight was warranted,” offered two-division former world champ Andre Ward, one of the commentators for the ESPN+ telecast. “You’re only as good as your last performance, and his last performance against Jonathan Oquendo was not great. He didn’t respond the right way. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t respond the right way tonight. He did, and he deserves everything that’s coming his way.”

What could be coming next for Herring is a unification showdown with Mexico’s Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs), the WBC and lineal super featherweight ruler. It might be a move up to lightweight, which seems reasonable for someone of his elongated physical dimensions (5’10”, 72-inch reach) for a 130-pounder.  But whatever awaits him, it has to be less harrowing than the path he already has followed to get to this point in a life marked by exhilarating highs and plunging lows.

Did Frampton say something about how Herring was “shooting from a distance”? How ironic that remark is, considering his two deployments to Iraq. Herring has seen fellow Marines killed or seriously wounded. He knows what it’s like to have RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) whiz over his head, to cringe when an IED (improvised explosive device) blew up the Humvee just ahead of the one in which he was the gunner, an exposed position that left him especially vulnerable to snipers with high-powered rifles that could cut him down from hundreds of yards away.

To have lived through that and twice to have come home whole, at least physically, reflects no small amount of good fortune. But that is not to say that Herring was not damaged in ways that are not readily discernible. He is the father of six children, one of whom, daughter Ariyanah, was only two months old when she died unexpectedly and without warning of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Her loss left a hole in her father’s heart that has yet to fully heal.

There are other unseen wounds to veterans of armed conflicts that never appear on X-rays or medical charts.

“Sniper fire. That was my biggest fear,” Herring said in a 2016 interview with ESPN’s Mark Kriegel. “Whenever we got stopped, I felt like I was a sitting duck, ’cause I’m on top of the Humvee.

“It’s rough over there. You’re deployed for seven, eight months out in the desert and it’s a different world where people are trying to kill you. You have to be watchful at all times.”

Back home and presumably safe, Herring – who had been the team captain of the USA Boxing Team at the 2012 London Olympics – had to cope with the death of his baby daughter and PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). He began to drink heavily, and even now feels the need to sit in restaurants with his back to a wall with a view of all entrances. Some might call that a form of paranoia, but it is what it is. But, fortunately, Herring’s strong and controlled performance against Frampton offers proof, and hope, that the worst is increasingly behind him.

The story of Jamel Herring could easily be adapted into a feature-length or made-for-TV movie, but then isn’t that the case with so many fighters who dealt with issues that supersede anything they may have encountered inside the ropes? Boxing has always provided Hollywood with rich veins of material to be mined, from Jim Corbett to James J. Braddock to Rocky Graziano to Micky Ward to Muhammad Ali. Maybe the tale of Jamel Herring can be put into the future bin of inspirational scripts along with those of Matthew Saad Muhammad, Bernard Hopkins and Arturo Gatti, a select group of life underdogs who rose above their circumstances to achieve a form of glory reserved for those with enough gumption to defy the odds.

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Gerald Sinclair Watches Over the Mayweather Boxing Club, a Las Vegas Landmark

Arne K. Lang

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It isn’t a stretch to say that the Mayweather Boxing Club is a Las Vegas landmark. Regardless of one’s feelings toward Floyd — and he certainly has his detractors – the man transcended his sport like no other boxer of recent vintage. According to Forbes, which publishes an annual list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, Floyd Mayweather Jr is one of only three athletes to surpass one billion dollars in career earnings, putting him on the same lofty pedestal as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods – this despite the fact that Floyd competed in what has been characterized as a dying sport while attracting comparatively little money in commercial endorsements.

The word landmark conveys the thought of an edifice that is architecturally impressive. The Mayweather Boxing Club certainly isn’t that. It sits in a one-story complex of small businesses that take up a full block in an older section of Chinatown which in Las Vegas isn’t a residential neighborhood but an ever-sprawling stretch of Spring Mountain Road that runs west of the Strip for roughly a mile, a string of Asian-owned businesses, predominantly restaurants and massage parlors. The Mayweather gym sits in the back of the complex facing away from the street.

It’s easy to miss it if one is heading there for the first time (it’s helpful to have a car equipped with a GPS locator) but yet tourists often find their way there and that is another defining feature of a landmark.

When entering the gym, it’s likely the first person that one will see is Gerald Sinclair. He co-manages the gym along with his brother John and Cornelius Boza-Edwards, the former world super featherweight champion who engaged in some of the most exciting fights of the 1980s.

sinclair

Gerald Sinclair

The Mayweather Boxing Club opened in 2007. Sinclair, 56, was there from the beginning when the facility was roughly half its current size. He grew up in Hudson, New York, a city named for the river that borders the town on the east. Before moving to Las Vegas, he worked as a fork lift driver in a warehouse.

Sinclair was induced to come to Las Vegas by his sister. She is Floyd Mayweather’s mother. Floyd is Gerald’s nephew. It’s all about family at the Mayweather Gym. Floyd’s father of the same name and his uncle Jeff are fixtures there, as was their brother, the late Roger Mayweather, the best of the three fighting Mayweather brothers.

This reporter has never been in a boxing gym that didn’t have colorful posters of old fights tacked to the wall. The Mayweather gym is no exception but all of the oversized posters, all 15 of them, are of Mayweather’s fights. (Needless to say, he won them all.) His face appears on other insignia, including a large banner above a row of folding chairs. There are two regulation-size boxing rings, 11 punching bags of various descriptions clustered in a nook and some of the standard exercise equipment, all indicative of the fact that this is a place to work up a sweat, but the Mayweather Boxing Club is also a little museum of sorts, a paean to the splurgy proprietor who once sported the nickname “Pretty Boy.”

Some boxing gyms – Abel Sanchez’s compound in Big Bear comes quickly to mind – are off-limits to outsiders. The Mayweather Boxing Club is welcoming (which isn’t to say that a busload of fans would be welcome; it wouldn’t).

“When we opened the place,” says Gerald Sinclair, “Floyd came to us and said if fans want to come in and look around, go ahead and let them.”

While we were there the other day, an older man with a Spanish accent appeared in the doorway and sheepishly inquired if he and the people in his party could come inside and give it a quick look-see. “Be my guest,” said Sinclair, whereupon the visitor left and returned with his wife and another couple that he had left waiting in the car.

Sinclair says if the man hadn’t happened to mention that there were other people in his party, that he would have likely brought it up. “We have had guys who came by and left their wife and kids outside in the car and I told them to please invite them in. I know this place is a slice of history. We don’t exclude anyone.”

A tourist giving the gym a gander invariably takes a few selfies and then comes the million-dollar question: “Is he here?” A selfie with Floyd would be a prized souvenir.

No, he’s never there, or almost never there. On the rare occasions when he does pop in during normal business hours, he arrives unannounced, usually with a bodyguard. Floyd Mayweather Jr, who is known to hop in one of his private jets and fly halfway around the world on a whim, lives in a different universe than the denizens of the gym that bears his family name.

Although also rare, a visitor has a better shot of bumping into a celebrity. Eddie Murphy, Christine Aguilera, Maria Carey and P Daddy have walked in the door, as have many prominent athletes including Mike Tyson.

When Tyson appears, it’s old home week for Gerald Sinclair and his brother. During his amateur days and in his early days as a pro, Iron Mike resided in Catskill, living with his trainer Cus D’Amato in the large Victorian home that D’Amato shared with the sister of a sister-in-law. Catskill and Hudson are separated by only 12 miles. Sinclair remembers young Tyson turning up at some of his softball games. Mike made a big hit with the folks running the snack bar, covering the tab of kids hovering around him at the refreshment stand.

A number of boxers from overseas have worked out at the gym while visiting Las Vegas. For some novice boxers, a trip to the Mayweather Boxing Club is a rite of passage. (A stranger in town for a convention or trade show can also use the facility if it isn’t too crowded. There is a day rate for these situations, and the visitor must sign a waiver absolving the club of any liability should he get hurt.)

The Mayweather Boxing Club is now back at full steam after being closed to the general public for several months because of Covid-19. For a time, it was effectively the private gym of Gervonta “Tank” Davis and his team. Everyone who was there while Tank was preparing for his Oct. 31, 2020 date with Leo Santa Cruz, was required to get tested twice a week. There were no hiccups.

“As a boss, Floyd has been very generous to me,” says Sinclair. Thanks to Floyd, he got to see a part of the world that he never would have gotten to see. Floyd invited him along when he flew to Tokyo for his exhibition with Tenshin Nasukawa. Prior to this, Sinclair’s lone trip outside the United States was a trip to Tijuana.

Sinclair has picked up a new skill since leaving New York. He’s frequently the go-to guy when a boxer at the gym needs his hands wrapped. It’s not as simple as it looks, there’s an art to it, and Gerald learned at the feet of the master, Rafael Garcia Sr, who encouraged his interest. Garcia passed away in November of 2017 at age 88, leaving a hole in the hearts of the extended Mayweather family that burned wider when his fellow traveler Roger Mayweather joined him in the afterlife.

The United States has housed several iconic boxing gyms over the years. A short list would include Stillman’s Gym in mid-Manhattan, the Main Street Gym in downtown Los Angeles, the 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach, and the Kronk Gym in Detroit. The Mayweather Boxing Club is destined to eventually join that hallowed roster.

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Avila Perspective, Chap.131: ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade, Carlos Gongora and More

David A. Avila

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Avila Perspective, Chap.131: ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade, Carlos Gongora and More

Do not confuse skill with athleticism.

Fans and many journalists often erroneously label a fighter with lightning speed, power, and a good jab as a skilled fighter when they are really, simply physically gifted athletes.

A truly skilled fighter can fight nose to nose with another and you can’t touch him, but he can clobber you. That is skill. They don’t need to run around the boxing ring at full flight mode. They can fight you straight-up.

One fighter Demetrius Andrade seems to finally be proving his skill-level after years of relying on mere athletic prowess.

Andrade (29-0, 18 KOs) defends the WBO middleweight title against Great Britain’s Liam Williams (23-2-1, 18 KOs) on Saturday April 17, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing card.

The undefeated southpaw from Providence, Rhode Island makes his fourth defense of the title he won in 2018. He formerly held the WBO super welterweight title too.

“You’re going to see the same you always see from me – a solid game plan, dominance, landing big shots, an all-around great performance and giving people what they have been missing, the sweet science,” said Andrade whose nickname is “Boo Boo.”

Because of his past reliance on athleticism, many possible foes simply avoided confrontations with Andrade in the prize ring. Who wants to step into a boxing ring and watch another fighter touch you with a jab and zip around the boxing ring? Fans don’t want to see it either. They want to see a fight, not a dance.

In his last defense Andrade was seen exhibiting inside fighting skills when he dispatched Luke Keeler by technical knockout in the ninth round in Miami. It was a display of straight-up fighting not often seen when the Rhode Island boxer performs.

Is this the new Andrade at age 33?

Williams, who hails from Wales, is nicknamed “the Machine” but lost twice to Liam Smith in two very close bouts. Those are his only defeats.

“I’m super confident and I don’t think there’s any way that he beats me. I think I can knock him out,” said Williams.

Andrade laughs at Williams’ comments.

“They call him ‘The Machine’, but when I am done with him, he’ll be ‘The Rust Bucket,” claims Andrade.

Williams feels its time to expose Andrade.

“I don’t think he has the same intensity as me,’ said Williams. “I wear my heart on my sleeve. I can punch harder than him. I have a better engine than him. I’m going to bring it all on the night and I don’t think he has the answers.”

Andrade expects the same results.

“Liam is not going to stop my train,” said Andrade. “I expect him to bring the fight because this is his opportunity, but at the end of the day he’ll be able to say, ‘I lost to Demetrius Andrade’.”

Gongora

IBO super middleweight titlist Carlos Gongora (19-0, 14 KOs) makes his first defense of his fringe world title against American Christopher Pearson (17-2, 12 KOs) in a battle between southpaws in the semi-main event at Seminole Hard Rock.

Ecuador’s Gongora was a last-minute replacement and upset Kazakhstan’s heavily favored Ali Akhmedov by knockout in the last round of their title fight last December. He also became his country’s first world title-holder.

Pearson enters the boxing ring after a similar feat. He was a late replacement when he met the favored Yamaguchi Falcao two years ago at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. He out-fought the Brazilian with a gutsy performance that convinced Golden Boy Promotions to sign him.

Gongora and Pearson both have much to prove.

Sunday

Thompson Boxing Promotions returns with one of its star prospects Ruben Torres (14-0, 10 KOs) who faces Diego Contreras (11-3, 5 KOs) in a super lightweight main event at Omega Products International in Corona, California. The fight card will be streamed on www.ThompsonBoxing.com and on its Facebook and YouTube.com pages.

Fights to Watch

Fri. 6 p.m. ESPN+ Miguel Vazquez (42-10) vs Isai Hernandez (10-1-1).

Sat. 11 a.m. ESPN+ Danny Dignum (13-0) vs Andrey Sirotkin (19-1).

Sat. 12 p.m. DAZN Demetrius Andrade (29-0) vs Liam Williams (23-2-1).

Sat. 5 p.m. FOX Tony Harrison (28-3) vs Bryant Perrella (17-3).

Sat. 6 p.m. TrillerFightClub.com (ppv) Regis Prograis (25-1) vs Ivan Redkach (23-5-1).

Sun. 2 p.m. ThompsonBoxing.com (free) Ruben Torres (14-0) vs Diego Contreras (11-3).

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Tank Davis and the Charlo Twins Featured on the Loaded Showtime/PBC Schedule

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Tank Davis and the Charlo Twins Featured on the Loaded Showtime/PBC Schedule

PRESS RELEASE — SHOWTIME Sports and Premier Boxing Champions today unveiled a loaded five-month boxing schedule of nine high-stakes world championship events beginning Saturday, May 15, live on SHOWTIME. The schedule delivers two events per month through August. Thirteen matchups have been announced thus far with no less than seven world title fights, and 12 fighters defending undefeated records. The lineup features many of boxing’s best young fighters taking on career-defining challenges in their primes. All fights on the schedule will take place before a live audience, keeping with applicable local COVID-19 safety protocols.

The sizzling summer run features the dynamic Charlo twins as undefeated electrifying champion Jermall Charlo defends his WBC middleweight world title against Juan Macias Montiel in a special Juneteenth homecoming in Houston on Saturday, June 19, live on SHOWTIME.

The following Saturday, June 26, unbeaten Mayweather Promotions star Gervonta “Tank” Davis moves up two weight classes for a chance to become a three-division world champion when he takes on fellow undefeated champion Mario Barrios for his super lightweight world title in what will be Davis’ second pay-per-view showdown.

The next month, WBC, WBA and IBF 154-pound charismatic world champion Jermell Charlo looks to make boxing history when he takes on WBO junior middleweight world champion Brian Castaño in a mega-fight to crown the first four-belt 154-pound world champion.

The SHOWTIME boxing schedule features eight editions of SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and one premier SHOWTIME PPV event, all presented by Premier Boxing Champions:

  • MAY 15 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
    • Luis Nery vs. Brandon Figueroa, WBC Super Bantamweight World Title Fight
    • Danny Roman vs. Ricardo Espinoza Franco, Super Bantamweight Fight
    • Xavier Martinez vs. Abraham Montoya, WBA Super Featherweight Fight
    • MAY 29 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
      • Nordine Oubaali vs. Nonito Donaire, WBC Bantamweight World Title Fight
      • Subriel Matias vs. Batyrzhan Jukembayev, IBF Super Lightweight Title Eliminator
  • JUNE 19 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING 
    • Jermall Charlo vs. Juan Macias Montiel, WBC Middleweight World Title Fight
  • JUNE 26 – SHOWTIME PPV
    • Gervonta Davis vs. Mario Barrios, WBA Super Lightweight World Title Fight
    • Erickson Lubin vs. Jeison Rosario, WBC Junior Middleweight Title Eliminator
    • JULY 3 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
    • Chris Colbert vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa, WBA Super Featherweight Interim Title Fight
  • JULY 17 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING 
    • Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castaño, Undisputed IBF, WBA, WBC & WBO Junior Middleweight World Title Unification Fight
  • AUGUST 14 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING

                  Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. John Riel Casimero, WBO Bantamweight World Title Fight

         AUGUST 28 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING

    • David Benavidez vs. Jose Uzcategui, WBC Super Middleweight Title Eliminator
  • SEPTEMBER 11 – SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING
  • Stephen Fulton, Jr. vs. winner of Nery-Figueroa, Super Bantamweight World Title Unification Fight

“High-impact, meaningful fights amongst many of the biggest names and brightest stars in combat sports. That is what SHOWTIME promises and that is what we are delivering,” said Stephen Espinoza, President, SHOWTIME Sports. “With an opportunity to crown an undisputed world champion at 154 pounds, a highly anticipated super bantamweight title unification, a stacked pay-per-view showdown and more than a dozen fights between 118-168 pounds, SHOWTIME is presenting boxing’s best young fighters, all daring to be great by putting their world titles and undefeated records on the line.

Editor’s Note: This press release has been edited for brevity.

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