It may not have been aesthetically pleasing, but WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring got the desired result as he retained his crown via an eighth-round disqualification against Puerto Rican veteran Jonathan Oquendo at ‘The Bubble’ in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, on Saturday night.

Herring suffered repeated headbutts with one premeditated collision opening up a cut over his right eye in the fifth round. When the American champion insisted he couldn’t see after the eighth, referee Tony Weeks disqualified Oquendo as the injury had been the result of an intentional headbutt.

Oquendo’s headwork cut Herring (right) in a rough and ready encounter.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

At the time of the stoppage, Herring led handily on the cards – 80-70 (twice) and 79-71 – having scored a knockdown with a left uppercut in the third and Oquendo (31-7, 19 KOs) being deducted a point for his illegal headwork in the fifth.

Herring-Oquendo had twice been postponed in July after the champion tested positive for Covid-19 so it was undoubtedly a relief to get this one out of the way.

Herring scored a knockdown in the third round, but it was far from plain sailing.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

The unsightly victory paved the way for a delayed confrontation with two-weight world champion Carl Frampton later this year though that will also depend on the extent of Herring’s injury.

“It just got ugly. I wasn’t too satisfied with my performance, to be honest with you,” admitted Herring (22-2. 10 KOs) in the ring afterwards. “In the beginning, everything was going real smooth, me boxing. I put him down with an uppercut. We knew he was going to come head-first. We had to time it. In the end, I wasn’t happy with how I was looking. I’m disappointed with the outcome. I’ve never been in that situation.

“I still want the Carl Frampton fight next by all means. November, December, whatever. I still want that fight next.”

Yet Herring got that all important ‘W’. Frampton is next.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

After suffering two cuts over his left eye from headbutts, Omaha super-middle Steven Nelson (17-0, 14 KOs) felt the necessity to quickly end matters, halting Toledo’s DeAndre Ware (13-3-2, 8 KOs) in the sixth round.

“When that second cut came, I was like, I know how fighters are when they see an injury,” said Nelson. “So I said, ‘You know what, I have to get to work’. My plan was to go out there and feel him out, don’t rush it too much. That’s why the first couple of rounds, I wasn’t doing too much, and then I picked it up. The headbutt was the perfect time for me to pick it up.

“I feel like I’m ready for a title eliminator and then let’s go for the title. That was my whole plan, to set myself up where they can’t deny me a world title.”

San Antonio light-flyweight Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez (12-0, 8 KOs) impressively bombed out the usually tough Janiel Rivera after three knockdowns in the opening round. Rivera (18-7-3, 11 KOs) hadn’t been knocked out in six years and only once previously.

Rodriguez’s brother Joshua Franco is the WBA Regular super-flyweight champion, but here he showed he is a title threat in his own right.

“I felt amazing. I told [trainer] Robert [Garcia] in the locker room, ‘This is the best I’ve ever felt’. I think I showed that today,” said Rodriguez.  “To have a brother as a champion is really motivating to me. In camp, I was thinking that my brother became a champ, and I can do the same. There were times in camp I didn’t feel like working out or running, but I thought about my brother, and he motivated me. Just the thought of him being a world champ brought out the best of me in camp.”

In other significant undercard action, leading heavyweight prospect Jared ‘The Real Big Baby’ Anderson (6-0, 6 KOs) maintained his spotless record by KOing Rodney Hernandez (13-10-2, 4 KOs) in the fourth.

“We’re ready for everybody. We’re building up. [Promoter] Bob {Arum} is moving me perfectly,” said Toledo’s Anderson. “It was about getting those rounds in and showing I can really box. I’m not just a puncher. I know how to box, and I know how to stay on my backfoot.

“I’m listening to the commentators more, getting a lot of learning experiences. It’s helping a lot {with me} taking my time and slowing down.”

Main image and all photos: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.