Junior lightweight world titlist Jamel Herring, a Marine veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq, won his belt in May on Memorial Day weekend.
In his first defense, Herring retained the belt on another weekend very meaningful to him: Veterans Day and the Marine Corps’ birthday as he outpointed mandatory challenger Lamont Roach Jr. before 7,412 in the main event of the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN+ card on Saturday night at Fresno, California’s Chukchansi Park, the home of the Fresno Grizzlies, the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
Herring, a southpaw, who outpointed Masayuki Ito to win his 130-pound world title on May 25, survived major trouble in the 11th round and hung on to win 117-111, 117-111 and 115-113.
Herring (21-2, 10 KOs), 34, of Coram, New York, who earned $300,000 to Roach’s $100,000, was busy with his jab and body attack but Roach, a counter puncher at heart, continually looked for an opening that never came. He barely threw any punches while Herring dictated the fight from the outside.
Roach (19-1-1, 7 KOs), 24, of Washington, D.C., rattled Herring with a counter right hand in the seventh round but shots like that were few and far between. After the round, assistant trainer Joel Diaz was all over him, screaming at him that the way he was fighting was not what they had trained for.
Roach had another good round in the eighth. He caught Herring with a right hand and left hook behind it that landed solidly. Another hook later in the round knocked Herring off balance.
Herring landed a right hand across the face in the ninth round that knocked Roach down but referee Marcos Rosales inexplicably called it a slip even though replays showed a punch landed. California does not employ the use of replay to change a call during the fight.
Early in the 11th round, Roach rocked Herring with a left hook on the chin but did not follow up to see if he was hurt. But later in the final seconds of the round, he nailed Herring with a right hand that badly rocked him but the round ended before Roach could land another shot.