IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston unearths the betting value in tonight’s WBO 130lbs title clash between champion Jamel Herring and Belfast boxing icon Carl Frampton in Dubai.

Betting lines are almost even for the super-featherweight title fight between champion Jamel Herring and Carl Frampton, who seeks to become the first Irish three-weight world champion, in Dubai on Saturday.

The betting public is split down the middle. Herring has the height and reach advantages and he’s a southpaw. But he’s had Covid and he looked lacklustre in his last fight. Frampton has had hand issues (I believe he has a metal plate in one hand and a screw in the other) and has used the dreaded R word — as in “retirement” — in the build-up to the fight. Frampton is getting up there in age at 34 but Herring is 35.

At time of typing, Betfred showed Frampton at 21/20 and Herring at 5/6, so the odds are as close as you can get. 

I’m leaning Frampton. He’s fought at world-class level for more than seven years, winning titles at 122 and 126 pounds. His two losses came against high-volume fighters in Leo Santa Cruz and Josh Warrington, while Herring is more of a technician. And, while Herring towers over him, it’s not unusual for Frampton to be the shorter man in the ring.

The key for Frampton, as I see it, is to get in with quick punches and get out again, making fast attacks so as not to let Herring get settled into a comfortable groove. It’s possible that Frampton will be able to slow down Herring by going to the body. Frampton was hurting prospect Tyler McCreary with body punches in their bout in late 2019 although the US fighter survived two knockdowns and gamely stuck it out to the final bell.

Herring flat out didn’t look good in his last fight, against Puerto Rican veteran Jonathan Oquendo, who at 5ft 4ins is actually an inch or so shorter than Frampton. Herring was winning the fight and even scored a flash knockdown but Oquendo’s rushing, crowding tactics were making Herring uncomfortable. Herring, cut over the eye from a clash of heads, basically bailed out after eight rounds when assured by the referee that in essence he couldn’t lose the fight.

Okay, we can’t blame Herring for using the rules to his advantage. Why fight four more rounds with a cut over the eye when you can get out of Dodge with a technical decision — or, in this case, a DQ?

Still, the way Herring pulled the plug did strike something of a discordant note. It wasn’t what one expected from a world champion, especially one who is a former member of the US Marine Corps.

But maybe that was just an off night. Generally speaking, Herring has shown all-around improvement since hooking up with trainer Brian McIntyre and training at altitude at Colorado Springs. He trains alongside one of the game’s top fighters, Terence Crawford, and that must be a source of inspiration.

Herring isn’t what the trade calls a “runner”. He is an adept counter puncher but he doesn’t do a lot of moving. The stockier, thicker-set Frampton might be able to get to him with right hands through the middle and left hooks underneath. But Herring has the counter-punching skills to punish the Belfast fighter. It looks a finely balanced fight.

Frampton backers can gain encouragement from the fact that Lamont Roach, not known as an exceptionally hard hitter, wobbled Herring with a right hand in the 11th round. Herring boxed his way through the crisis but it looked as if he might have been saved by the bell.

Roach basically didn’t throw enough punches during the course of the 12 rounds. He allowed Herring to dictate the pace of the contest. Frampton surely knows that he has to be assertive, but in a sensible way. He needs to take the initiative while always staying alert, doing his best to keep mental pressure on the taller champion. 

We don’t think of Herring as a puncher but he can be dangerous. He has a sneaky right hook. He dropped Oquendo with a left uppercut. But Frampton seems to be hitting solidly at 130 pounds. And Frampton has the sturdier look.

Frampton, obviously, is coming to the end of his career but I thought he looked strong and quite sharp in his two fights in the super-featherweight division and they say a great fighter often has one last great fight left in them.

If you are undecided which man will win but would like to have action on the bout, the proposition markets could be the way to go. 

The bout looks likely to go the full 12 rounds but the ticket price is steep at 1/3 (-300). It’s almost worth throwing something on the fight not going 12 rounds at 9/4 (+225). There could be a head clash, which always seems more likely when a southpaw meets an orthodox-stance boxer, or one of the fighters could simply “go” at some point. After all, both men are around their mid-30s. 

Logic says the fight is nailed-on to go the distance but one never knows. Indeed, Frampton by KO, TKO or DQ at 6/1 (+600) might be worth a look.

The total rounds (over/under) proposition has been set at 10.5 rounds, with the “over” favoured at around around 2/7 (-350). So the oddsmakers see this as a long fight and they’re probably correct. For me, though, there are just too many variables to feel confident enough to pay a high ticket price on an “over” or “Distance — Yes” proposition.

I’m sticking with a straight-up play on Frampton to win.  It’s a 50-50 fight and it’s a tough ask for Frampton, but my instinct is that he can pull it off.

Main image: MTK Global.