Story by: Rahmon Ford
One potentially excellent fight flying under the radar is the matchup between WBO World super featherweight champion Jamel Herring (20-2, 10 KOs) and challenger Lamont Roach Jr (19-0-1, 7 KOs). Herring, 33, won the title in May over then champion Masayuki Ito by unanimous decision. Herring shocked the favored Ito by scores of 116-112, 118-110 twice. Roach, enters the title contest as a winner of his last three since fighting to a controversial draw with Orlando Cruz last year.
The title fight will take place on November 9 LIVE on ESPN+ from Fresno, California.
Three Keys for Each Fighter:
For the champion Herring, he is 5’10” with a 70” reach. Roach Jr is 5’7” with a 68” reach. Herring needs to use his height and length to keep Roach Jr at bay when he tries to get inside. He can do so by throwing the jab, early and often. His jab was dominant against Ito as he landed 52 of 248 (21%) to Ito’s 8 of 146 (6%). I also liked his jab to the head and body in a loss against LaDarius Miller. He needs to follow that trend and use his advantages.
Herring also needs to get off to a fast start. Roach Jr sometimes plays the counterpuncher in fights. Fights are scored round by round. If Herring banks some early rounds because of Roach Jr’s lack of aggression, it could be the difference in a close fight. He may also want to go to Roach’s body to slow him down for an attack in the later rounds.
Finally, Herring must be defensively responsible. He sometimes let’s opponents into the fight by leaving his hands down defensively after getting off. Roach Jr isn’t a huge puncher but he is quick and speed sometimes can equal power if you don’t see a punch. Herring drops his right hand after jabs sometimes and drops his left after getting off combinations. It cost him dearly in the Shafikov and Miller fights. He needs to be technically proficient defensively in this fight, or the title will change hands.
For the challenger, Roach Jr, he needs to fight like the challenger in a world title fight. The way to do it is to abandon the slow start and be aggressive from the onset. Roach Jr has the tendency to sit back and counterpunch, even against overmatched guys. I feel the early rounds in this fight are critical and Roach Jr needs to get off early. He’s the quicker guy and needs to throw the double jab and right hand to get inside. It’ll be available against Herring and it’s a good way for Roach Jr to establish himself early.
Roach Jr also has to use his experience. He’s an orthodox fighter and often you see a righty go in not having experience against southpaws. However, Lamont Roach incredibly has fought five southpaws in his last eight fights. Alberto Mercado, Deivi Julio Bassa, Orlando Cruz, Jesus A Valdez Barrayan, Alejandro Valdez had a combined record of 106 wins, 21 losses, and 5 draws at the time Roach Jr fought each of them. So he knows how to fight lefties. Something tells me Team Roach Jr knew the fight with Herring would come one day.
Lastly, two things (one offensively and one defensively) may serve Roach Jr well in this matchup. Offensively, if Roach Jr is losing the jab battle, he can use his quickness to throw the lead right hand against Herring. I believe he can find success with this punch. It won’t result in a knockout or such. However, it will catch the judges’ eyes against a southpaw every time it lands. Defensively, Roach Jr should use his legs to avoid Herring’s pursuit and counter him at times. Roach Jr has excellent leg movement and it can offset the height and reach advantages Herring has in this fight.
Although one key in this matchup is a good start by both combatants, I have the feeling this fight may start as a chess match. If so, and if it goes a close distance, the loser will kick himself.
Stay tuned. We are less than a month away…
Herring-Roach and a co-feature will stream live beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service. The undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Golden Boy, tickets are priced at $200, $96, $46 and $29 (not including applicable fees). Tickets can be purchased by visiting mpv.tickets.com, charge by phone at 559.320.TIXS (8497) or at the Chukchansi Park box office (open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m PT to 5 p.m. PT). In honor of Veterans Day and the Marine Corps Birthday, any active or retired service members will receive up to four free tickets to the event by presenting their military ID at the Chukchansi Park box office (while supplies last).