Before the 10th round began Tuesday night, trainer Mike Stafford’s advice to Jamel Herring was concise: “Make him miss, and make him pay.”
As if that hadn’t been what Herring was doing to Luis Eduardo Flores all night long.
Jamel Herring (15-0, 8 KOs) had Flores (21-3, 17 KOs) measured from the jump, easily sliding back out of range from his opponent’s powerful rights throughout their 135-pound clash at the Sands Bethlehem Events Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Colombian, making his U.S. debut, never really had any answers for Herring’s superior footwork, better distance or sharp counterpunching.
When it was over, the judges saw it as crystal clear as those in attendance and watching on TV, giving Herring a 10-round unanimous decision by scores of 100-88 twice and 99-89.
“It was like the third or fourth round when I really started timing everything, seeing everything he was throwing,” Herring said. “I wasn’t even getting grazed. I was countering off his mistakes.
"The counter left was my best weapon. I was setting him up with so many lefts, I started leading with the left, and I was coming with the hook and dipping under his hooks and coming over his looping right hand.”
Time and again, Flores kept going to the same well, and time and again Herring denied him, building momentum and confidence as the fight went on.
It all culminated in the fifth round, Herring’s most impressive stanza of the night, as he notched two knockdowns against the taller—and ostensibly more powerful—opponent. The first came on a left hook to the body that seemed to involve some tangling of feet. Flores didn’t appear seriously hurt, but Herring again caught him moments later, this time with a right hook to the ear that buckled Flores, who touched his gloves to the mat before bouncing up.
“The check hook caught him off balance [on the second knockdown]. His footing was out of place, and I took full advantage of it and got the knockdown,” Herring said. “I made him miss off his mistakes. He was throwing wide shots. I stepped to the side and threw the check hook.”
After a strong sixth, Herring had built up a lead that was, barring a stunning knockout, insurmountable. At that point, Flores’ punches visibly slowed, but Herring never took his foot off the gas. He kept hammering home, alternating hooks to the body, sharp counter lefts and a jab that landed at will between Flores’ anemic guard.
Herring even started deploying a nasty little uppercut in the eighth, like a kid taking a brand-new Kylo Ren out of the box and realizing the sublime joy of whipping around a lightsaber. He was having fun with it. And why not? Everything else was working, too.
On a night when Herring was headlining his first card and making his television debut, he did everything you could ask a prospect to do: He stayed unbeaten in convincing fashion, and he looked great doing it.
“I felt like when I was given the opportunity to make the headline, people expected me to put on a great show, and I didn’t want to disappoint,” Herring said. “Not to mention, I didn’t want this headline to be my last headline.”
Now comes the tough part: securing fights against the upper ranks of the 135-pound division. Herring had barely showered when he was already looking ahead.
“I’m hoping to come back in April,” he said. “[Olympic teammate and fellow Stafford trainee] Rau’shee Warren is expecting to come back around then. Maybe we can get on the card together and do it again for the people. I want to test myself against the best out there.”
For complete coverage of Herring vs Flores, make sure to swing over to our fight page.
Martin cruises past Gomez; Williams hangs on against late charge
Alex Martin (12-0, 5 KOs) remained unbeaten in a one-sided affair at 147 pounds against Rossemberth Gomez (17-5-1, 13 KOs). Martin left a bloody Gomez battered after eight unanimous, near-shutout rounds, with just two 79-73 cards keeping Gomez on the board. … Raynell Williams ran his record to 11-0 (5 KOs) with a victory over Gabriel Tolmajyan (14-5-2, 3 KOs) despite a last-round attack from the Armenian that saw Williams get caught with a straight left that had him dazed. Tolmajyan couldn’t finish the job, though, and Williams recovered to lock down the unanimous decision in a 135-pound tilt.