Jamel Herring gets ready for a new start with Top Rank and Brian McIntyre
After parting ways with adviser/manager Al Haymon, Jamel Herring goes into 2018 with a completely new team behind him and a new lease on his boxing career.
“As a fighter, you just want to stay active and busy. We love what we do, especially because it’s our livelihood. The key is to keep us in the mix of things,” Herring told UCNLive.com, via phone call, a few days after the news was revealed.
Herring, 16-2 (9), signed a promotional contract with Top Rank and hired Brian “BoMac” McIntyre as his manager/trainer in the same move, last week, (Herring also hired Jerry “JC” Casarez as his marketing manager). Inactivity and the uncertainty of whether or not there was a plan for him with Haymon and Premier Boxing Champions was his reason for extricating himself from that universe and, in his explanation of why he chose Top Rank, fixing those issues were in focus.
“I feel like Top Rank, with the ESPN platform and the dates that they were throwing out there, that it was the best route to go,” he said. Herring has had opportunity and exposure in his time with the PBC. He headlined a show televised on FS1, in February 2016, and that win over Luis Florez parlayed into a bigger fight with Denis Shafikov five months later, which happened to be on ESPN, when the PBC still had its deal with the network. Herring was stopped by Shafikov in that step-up fight his options had since been cut in half. Herring fought eight times total from 2014 through 2015, as a prospect, but since the headlining show on FS1 two years ago, he has stepped in the ring a total of four times.
“In the beginning, when I first signed with Al, we were dealing a lot with Golden Boy Promotions. My pro debut was on a Golden Boy card. Things were going well and I was staying active, especially being a prospect, at the time. As time moved along further, the dates just started to get too wide in between.”
Gripes about inactivity within the PBC are things that don’t necessarily start and end with him but Herring is one of the first to do something about it and it could possibly prompt more to follow. Over the summer, Herring was brought in as a sparring partner for Terence “Bud” Crawford in preparation for his August 26 junior welterweight championship unification fight with Julius Indongo. McIntyre, who is perhaps the most acknowledged of Crawford’s team of trainers, began to develop a rapport with Herring, during that time, and that’s when the seed of making a change was first planted.
“It’s great being around them because they make you feel comfortable,” Herring said about training with Crawford and McIntyre. “Everything over there is family-oriented. It’s a cool atmosphere. BoMac, he expresses to me all the time that I don’t work for him; he works for me. That his job is to make sure that I’m straight, comfortable and on board with everything. Just being around that, and knowing that, is a great feeling for a fighter. He really pushed this deal with Top Rank.”
Hiring a new trainer requires the break away from another and, for Herring, it wasn’t easy breaking the news to longtime trainer Mike Stafford.
“It was hard,” Herring said. “It was one of those family things. I’ve been around (Stafford) since the amateurs. I started out as a professional with him. It was one of those things where I felt like my back was against the wall. In my last fight, I had to be honest with myself that I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities. There was a lot of things going on with training, at the time. For the most part, what kept me around in that fight, to be honest, was the fact that I was sparring with Bud for the Indongo fight. That’s when BoMac saw the talent in me to bring me on board today. When it was time for me to train and prepare for my own fight, I just wasn’t getting the right attention I deserve. I always tell people, the more you move up, the fights don’t get easier – they get harder, at times. You have to pick it up; you don’t want to stay stagnant or fall back. So it was just one of those things where I had to do what’s best for me before anything. So, I just went from there and here we are.”
When asked if he feels relieved about finalizing the situation, Herring said, “Oh yeah. With Top Rank, they’re gonna focus on my audience and where I’m from. They pointed out that I’ll be fighting at home in New York more. I will also get the opportunity to showcase in front of a military crowd. I’ll have a road map, in terms of if I take this fight, where does it lead from there, and so on and so on.”
For most of his career, Herring has competed in the lightweight class but a move down to 130 pounds is likely and within his explanation of the idea was another reason for his decision.
“130-pounds is definitely where we’re aiming at,” said Herring, who could be a tough match-up in the division, being a tall southpaw. “We’ll see. I have never had any issue making 135; that’s for sure. Actually during the weigh-ins, I’d come in light – you could look that up on BoxRec…I sat down with Brian about looking at a nutritionist, so I can be healthy and strong, if we do decide to go down to 130, because I want to do it right. Carl Moretti (Vice President of Boxing Operations for Top Rank) said they’re OK with my options at 130 and 135. So it’s a sigh of relief that I do have options and they’re cool with any decision that I make.”
As for his debut with Top Rank, Herring, a native of Long Island, New York, could end up having a homecoming, with a little bit of luck.
“As of right now, we were trying to get a date for March. We were trying to hurry and get the deal done before Top Rank filled out their cards. After I signed the deal, BoMac told me that March was basically full. Now we’re focused on April – when Bud gets back in the ring. Depending on the situation with the venue, it will be the 21st of April or the 14th but, as of last night, I guess they’re leaning more toward the April 14 (date) at Madison Square Garden. That would be perfect. I haven’t fought at home in New York since September 2013, so why not have a good homecoming in your Top Rank debut?”
When it comes to his outlook under the Top Rank banner, there are plenty of names Herring can conceivably fight but, when asked about the top guys, Herring made it clear that his new viewpoint doesn’t rely on just taking a seldom opportunity without thinking ahead.
“Me being a Marine and looking at my track record, I’ve never been the person to turn down a fight. To be honest, the reason why I didn’t turn down fights is because, if you look at the situation with the PBC, if you get an option, sometimes that’s the only option you would get and, if you let it slip away, you never know when you would come back. On top of that, I’m a Marine and we’re known for taking things head on. I’m in this sport for a reason and I’m not here to run or duck from anybody, so, when the opportunity presented itself, why not take it? It’s different with Top Rank. They have a plan. I’ll always have a respect for boxing, as a sport and business. I look at it like this: Sure, it would be great to get in there with a great champion like (current WBO junior lightweight titleholder Vasyl) Lomachenko but, at the same time, I need to earn it. I have to work my way up to it until I’m where I deserve it.”