Herring to present tall order against Shafikov in 135-pound showdown

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Jamel Herring has watched video of Denis Shafikov’s two losses, both of which came against taller, rangier opponents whose dimensions are similar to his own.

Jamel Herring and Denis Shafikov

Jamel Herring (left) and Denis Shafikov each tipped the scales at 134.5 pounds Friday in advance of Saturday's 135-pound clash in Reading, Pennsylvania. (Nabeel Ahmad/Premier Boxing Champions)

The 5-foot-10 Herring sees that as just one edge he has entering Saturday night’s 135-pound bout against the 5-foot-5 Shafikov at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

“I consider myself an old-school fighter when it comes to tape study,” said Herring, who weighed in Friday at 134.5 pounds, as did his opponent. “I’ve watched fights and taken different things from them.

“Shafikov is one-dimensional, coming forward and being aggressive. I know I can work inside, but my style is to mostly use my boxing ability.”

Jamel Herring (15-0, 8 KOs), a 30-year-old Marine veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, is preparing to face his most accomplished opponent after winning a 10-round unanimous decision over Luis Eduardo Florez in February.

Denis Shafikov (36-2-1, 19 KOs) is coming off a loss by unanimous decision to unbeaten world champion Rances Barthelemy in a 135-pound title bout in December.

The 31-year-old Russian’s only other defeat occurred in another 135-pound title fight, when champion Miguel Vazquez retained his crown with a unanimous decision in February 2014.

Given the quality of the opposition in his two losses, Shafikov is confident his experience will give him the edge over Herring in the clash of southpaws.

“I am looking forward to facing Jamel Herring. He is undefeated and a former Olympian,” Shafikov said. “But I have the experience of fighting for a title, and I know with a win, it will get me another opportunity.”

Shafikov is entering his fifth fight under trainer Abel Sanchez, who also works with 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin and 200-pound contender Murat Gassiev. Sanchez said Herring doesn’t present the threat to Shafikov that the 5-foot-11 Barthelemy and 5-10 Vazquez did.

“The difference between the three [opponents] is that Vazquez and Barthelemy were two of the top guys at 135,” Sanchez said. “Vazquez was very experienced and elusive, beats a lot of the main guys and gives everybody a hard time. Barthelemy’s a beast—a big guy who is very strong.

“Denis did well against Barthelemy until he got cut over his right eye. In Herring, we’re getting a similar type of a guy but a fighter trying to make his mark. Herring does present similar problems that the other guys did, except for the experience. This is a tough fight that they’ve chosen, and I believe Shafikov will be too much for him.”

In Herring’s victory in February, the Cincinnati resident scored two knockdowns of the taller Florez in Round 5 and nearly swept all three judges’ scorecards in his second straight 10-round bout.

Herring, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, said Barthelemy and Vazquez provided him with the blueprint for how to defeat Shafikov.

“Early on in the first couple of rounds, Rances Barthelemy fought the wrong fight, staying on the inside too long,” Herring said. “But in the last four or five rounds of that fight, he started boxing again and he was in a zone.

“Vazquez is not a better technician than me, but he boxed and stayed at a distance, which kind of frustrated Shafikov. I’ll take pieces of both of those fights and emulate some of the things they did. I’m very excited for this fight, and I know I’m going to be victorious.”

For a complete overview of Herring vs Shafikov, visit our fight page.

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