Jamel Herring retained his WBO junior lightweight title by disqualification against Jonathan Oquendo on Saturday.
The fight inside the Top Rank bubble at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas was stopped after the eighth round because of an intentional head-butt. Oquendo led with his head in the fifth round and caused a cut near the right eye of Herring. The foul was ruled intentional by referee Tony Weeks.
Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) said he was able to continue at that point but told the ringside physician that he couldn’t see after the eighth. The doctor advised Weeks, who stopped the fight. Weeks then discussed the outcome at ringside with Bob Bennett, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Because Weeks ruled that Oquendo had intentionally fouled Herring as their heads collided, the fight was ruled a disqualification victory for Herring.
After the fight, Herring was taken to the hospital to see if he had suffered a broken orbital bone. Herring later tweeted that a previous facial injury was found to have caused his vision issues.
It was an awkward and ugly fight from the onset. Oquendo (31-7, 19 KOs) charged in with his head and mauled Herring on the inside during the first few rounds. It was evident that Herring, who prefers to box from the outside, was uncomfortable and unable to land his jab.
In the third round, a well-placed counter left uppercut sent Oquendo to the canvas. It seemed as though Herring had tamed the hard-charging challenger, but Oquendo kept coming forward and made the fight difficult for Herring. Although Herring had superior skills, Oquendo’s tactics were not to his liking.
“We knew coming in that he was going to be aggressive with the head first,” a frustrated Herring said after the fight. “It just kept repeating on the inside, and Tony finally caught on to it. I didn’t want it to end like that.
“My team felt it was too much, so we had to stop it. Whatever.”
It certainly wasn’t the most impressive — or satisfying — victory for Herring. On the line was not just his title but also an upcoming matchup against former two-time titleholder Carl Frampton later this year.
Herring was hoping to have a statement victory, but instead, with the nature of this win, he left with the title and questions about his resolve.
“It just got ugly. I wasn’t too satisfied with my performance, to be honest with you,” Herring said. “In the beginning, everything was going real smooth, me boxing. I put him down with an uppercut. We knew he was going to come head-first. We had to time it. In the end, I wasn’t happy with how I was looking. I’m disappointed with the outcome. I’ve never been in that situation.
“I still want the Carl Frampton fight next, by all means — November, December, whatever. I still want that fight next.”
Herring later implied that he could retire after the Frampton fight.
“I will still fulfill my obligations against Frampton, but that fight may be my last,” Herring tweeted. “Lost too much time from my family as it is.”