Herring hopes training with world-class colleagues pays off against Shafikov

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Robert Easter Jr. and former champion Adrien Broner did it before scoring knockouts on the same April 1 card. It also worked for Rau’shee Warren in advance of his 118-pound title-winning victory earlier this month.

Jamel Herring and Luis Eduardo Florez

Jamel Herring threads a left hand through the guard of Luis Eduardo Florez during his lopsided unanimous decision victory in February. Herring returns to the ring Saturday against Denis Shafikov. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

Now it’s Jamel Herring’s turn to follow in the footsteps of his stablemates, all of whom trained in Washington, D.C., at the Headbangers Gym of Barry Hunter, trainer of former 140-pound champion Lamont Peterson and his brother, 135-pound contender Anthony Peterson.

“Jamel’s working with different guys [with] so many different styles,” says Mike Stafford, a Cincinnati-based trainer who is the cornerman for Easter, Broner, Warren and Herring. “The gym’s championship-caliber intensity makes you feel like [once] you’ve been in there with those guys, you can do anything against anybody else in an actual fight. It’s become a winning tradition.”

Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring (15-0, 8 KOs) hopes to parlay all the hard work at Headbangers into victory Saturday when he takes on two-time world title challenger and fellow southpaw Denis Shafikov (36-2-1, 19 KOs) in a 135-pound main event at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

Herring says his sparring sessions with Lamont Peterson have proven particularly beneficial as he gets ready for the physical, come-forward Shafikov.

“I started my training in Cincinnati, but I’ve been training in D.C. for about a month,” says Herring, a 30-year-old New York native who moved to Cincinnati in November 2012 after competing in that summer’s London Olympics. “I’ve been sparring with Lamont a lot. I did 12 rounds straight with Lamont on [June 17], and I did eight more rounds with him [on June 20].

“Lamont’s been sparring left-handed, and he’s a bigger guy, so we’ve been working on fighting under pressure. So Lamont’s been aggressive like Shafikov is, and we’ve worked on keeping the fight in the center of the ring.”

Herring is coming off the two lengthiest fights of his career, a pair of 10-round unanimous decisions over Yakubu Amidu on October 3 in Cincinnati and Luis Eduardo Florez on February 9 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, about an hour drive from the site of Saturday’s contest.

Herring nearly pitched shutouts against both Amidu and Florez, the latter of whom entered the fight at 21-2 but was dropped twice in the fifth round.

Just as Peterson played the role of Shafikov in his current training camp, Herring had Easter and Broner mimic the styles of Amidu and Florez, respectively, ahead of those bouts.

“Robert Easter is just as tall as Florez, but a bigger hitter and a better overall fighter,” Herring says. “Before my fight against Yakubu Amidu, I worked with Adrien a lot because he had a fight in October, also against a southpaw.”

The 5-foot-10 Herring will have a five-inch height advantage against Shafikov, so the 30-year-old Marine veteran expects his Russian foe to try to bull his way inside and push him to the ropes. It’s up to Herring, who has just a half-inch reach edge over Shafikov, to control the ring by using his superior boxing skills.

“This is a solid guy, but there’s no way he’s going to outbox me,” Herring says of the 31-year-old Shafikov. “If I have to work on the inside, I can—I can make it a war. But my job is to fight my fight, stay calm and keep the action in the center of the ring. I have to be sharp, and if I am, I don’t see him doing much.”

If Herring can get past Shafikov, he’ll keep his perfect record intact, move another step closer to a 135-pound title fight and continue the recent success of Headbangers fighters. Not only did Lamont Peterson win his last fight—a unanimous decision over Felix Diaz in October—but his younger brother, Easter and Broner all posted wins on the same April 1 card in D.C.

Then on June 18, Warren earned a majority decision over Juan Carlos Payano, avenging his only career defeat while becoming a 118-pound world champion.

“I feel like the fight [with Shafikov] is going to come down to conditioning, so I’ll be ready to fight 10 rounds again if I have to,” Herring says. “When you get sparring from guys like Lamont and Anthony Peterson, Adrien Broner and Rau’shee Warren, you have the mentality like, ‘I’ve been in the gym with these guys for so long, I can do anything when the real fight comes.’”

For complete coverage of Herring vs Shafikov, check out our fight page.

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