30
Sep
2020

Jamel Herring, Jonathan Oquendo discuss their long-awaited title bout

RINGSIDE 04/09/2020

Two fight dates came and went, and WBO junior lightweight world champion Jamel Herring and Jonathan Oquendo had nothing to show for it. Herring’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis forced postponements of July 2 and July 14 fight dates, but he and Oquendo will finally face off Saturday from the MGM Grand Las Vegas (ESPN+, 7:30 p.m. ET).

Herring (21-2, 10 KOs) will make the second defense of the world title he won from Masayuki Ito last May, while Oquendo (31-6, 19 KOs), a 37-year-old veteran from Puerto Rico, is making his second attempt at a world title.

In the co-feature, unbeaten super middleweight Steven Nelson, a stablemate of Herring’s, will fight DeAndre Ware in a 10-rounder. In heavyweight action, unbeaten sensation Jared Anderson will fight Rodney Hernandez.

This is what Herring and Oquendo had to say at Thursday’s press conference.

Jamel Herring

“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.

“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 {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.”

Jonathan Oquendo

“I was disappointed {when the July 14 fight was postponed} right before the weigh-ins. 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.”