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Herring-Stevenson showdown in the pipeline

WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring and ‘Interim’ belt holder Shakur Stevenson are in advanced talks for a clash in the final quarter of this year, with Atlanta a possible location.

Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) had prioritised a unification bout with WBC champion Oscar Valdez, another Top Rank-promoted fighter, but never discounted a showdown with former WBO featherweight king Stevenson.

The southpaw champion is in the form of his life, having impressively halted Carl Frampton in six rounds in April. Stevenson, meanwhile, was workmanlike in outpointing Jeremiah Nakathila for the WBO’s Interim 130lbs belt last month.

“You can hear it in my voice, I’m not really stressing about this fight,” New Yorker Herring, 35, told ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, who broke the story. “I know people said I would avoid the fight because I wanted to fight Oscar Valdez. I just felt in my heart a fight with Oscar Valdez is bigger for my career.

“It would have been a unification and for the lineal title, so why would I not push for that fight? If I have to go through Shakur to get this fight, so be it. He’s a superb boxer, but I’ve been through worse.

“I told him that when I saw him in Colorado, that when the fight happens, I know it will be his toughest fight. I said it to his face, ‘I’m going to be your biggest fight, your biggest test’. I’ve been in there with better guys than he’s fought by far.”

New Jersey southpaw Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) was criticised for his dominant but uninspiring points win over Nakathila in June, but reminds us that Floyd Mayweather was also lambasted early on in his career for a lack of fireworks.

“We got awkward opponents with real good punching power; it’s not always easy to shine,” Stevenson, 24, told ESPN’s Coppinger. “I ain’t the only one that went through this. I go back and look at old Floyd Mayweather fights [when commentators] Emanuel Steward and Larry Merchant, they’re saying Floyd Mayweather, ‘He’s not that good. He’s a very, very boring fighter’.

“I go fight Jamel Herring next and go beat him and then go beat Oscar Valdez. They’ll be saying I’m the best young fighter and put me on the pound-for-pound list.”