Saturday Night Fever: Herring vs. Oquendo
By Robert Ecksel on September 5, 2020
“I just feel like everything happens for a reason. It’s not like I was the only one suffering.”
In a fight streamed live tonight on ESPN+ from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring (21-2, 10 KOs), the southpaw from Cincinnati, Ohio, will defend his title against Jonathan Oquendo (31-6, 19 KOs), the veteran from Bayamon, Puerto Rico, in a scheduled 12-rounder.
After two cancellations in July due to Herring having twice tested positive for Covid-19, tonight’s fight will be his second defense of the title he won by decisioning Masayuki Ito in May 2019. It will be Oquendo’s second attempt at a world title.
“I just feel like everything happens for a reason,” said Herring at Thursday’s press conference. “It’s not like I was the only one suffering. It’s a global pandemic, so I can’t really complain too much. Despite all the setbacks, I’m still able to handle business.
“Any fighter will tell you, once they get in there, it’s tunnel vision anyway. My job is to focus on what’s in front of me. I can’t really worry about what’s going on on the outside. It’s just a great opportunity for fighters to be back in the ring, period. Despite having no crowd, we’re still fortunate to be doing what we love and do for a living. That’s all that matters to me.
“All I can focus on is this fight.”
Oquendo is the underdog, but he’s a live underdog who can fight.
“I was disappointed [when the fight was postponed] right before the weigh-ins,” Oquendo said. “I knew things were going to be okay. I understand the position of my opponent. I was worried about the fight never happening, but I had faith in Top Rank, and I know they do a good job. I’m ready to go for it Saturday night.
“I want to congratulate Herring. I know he’s a great fighter. He deserves everything he has right now, and I will try my best on Saturday night. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity.
“I’m 37 years old, but mentally, I’m prepared. I believe this is the perfect time for me to fight for a world title. I want to show the world what I’m capable of doing.”
In the co-main event, Steven Nelson (16-0, 13 KOs), the hard hitting super middleweight from Omaha, Nebraska, gets it on with DeAndre Ware (13-2-2, 8 KOs), from Toledo, Ohio, in a bout scheduled for 10 rounds. The opening bout features heavyweights Jared Anderson (5-0, 5 KOs), also from Toledo, going up against Rodney Hernandez (13-9-2, 4 KOs), from Modesto, California.
The fights get underway on ESPN+ at 7:30 PM/ET.