Herring retains title via DQ over Oquendo

By Robert Ecksel on September 5, 2020

The champ intended to box, while the challenger came to brawl. (Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

In an mess of a main event streamed live Saturday night on ESPN+ from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring (22-2, 10 KOs), the southpaw from Cincinnati, Ohio, retained his title against Jonathan Oquendo (31-7, 19 KOs), from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, via DQ at the end of round eight due to an intentional headbutt three rounds earlier.

 

Herring got off to a slow start. He intended to box, while Oquendo came to brawl. Leading with his head, the Puerto Rican veteran made it rough, mauling and clinching and landing rabbit punches that got the champion off his game. Herring failed to use the ring. He wasn’t using his legs. He failed to use the jab and lost the opening round.

 

Herring began finding his rhythm in round two. Oquendo stuck with his game plan, which was ugly but effective.

 

Herring dropped Oquendo with a perfectly timed left uppercut in the third. He was up before the referee, Tony Weeks, could start the count and picked up where he left off.

 

The champ boxed beautifully in the fourth. Oquendo was no longer effectively getting inside, but remained undeterred.

 

Oquendo was deducted a point in round five after what was ruled an intentional headbutt drew blood from a bad cut over Herring’s right eye.

 

Seeing an opening, Oquendo, at least on Andre Ward’s scorecard, won rounds six, seven, and eight. Between rounds eight and nine Herring told his trainer Brian McIntyre and Tony Weeks that he couldn’t continue because he couldn't see, even though his right eye hadn’t closed and the bleeding appeared no worse than it was in round five.

 

Confusion reigned in the corner and ringside, something to which we’ve unfortunately grown accustomed. The Nevada State Athletic Commission, in a series of negotiations between themselves, the ref, and ringside physician that seemed endless, disqualified Oquendo for an offense that occurred three rounds earlier and awarded Herring the win.

 

It was an unconventional ruling to say the least. Whether his vision was impaired or not, it looked like Herring threw in the towel between rounds eight and nine. Timothy Bradley said, “This is not good. This is not good,” and he was right. Both he and Andre Ward also suggested that Herring quit on his stool.

 

“It just got ugly,” said Herring after the fight. “We knew coming in he was going to be aggressive with the head first, but it just kept repeating and Tony finally caught on to it.

 

“I wasn’t too satisfied with my performance, to be honest with you. I didn’t want it to end like that. I’m disappointed with the outcome. But my team felt it was too much. So we just had to stop it or whatever.”

 

For a sport still trying to find its sea legs in the midst of a pandemic, the fight and its conclusion was something of a debacle. With boxing’s fan base continuing to shrink with no live audience and few competitive bouts, those concerned with boxing’s long-term health might want to evaluate what’s happening before the sport shrivels into irrelevance.