Is this do or die for Jamel Herring?
That’s the reality for a once-respected fighter who has lost back-to-back fights, is 38 and hasn’t been in the ring for a year and a half.
His choice of opponent, one without big-fight experience, is more of a test to determine what he has left in the tank rather than an opportunity to re-establish his credentials.
“I chose this fight because if you can’t get past Nick Molina, how can you get past world champions, the Joe Cordinas, Emanuel Navarretes, Hector Garcias?” Herring said on the Big Fight Weekend podcast.
“… I chose Nick Molina, younger, undefeated, I’m pretty sure he’s hungry, because I wanted to test myself and push myself.”
Herring (23-4, 11 KOs) was blown out by Shakur Stevenson in October 2021, losing all but one round on two cards and getting stopped in 10 rounds to lose his belt and momentum.
That was followed by unanimous decision loss to Jamaine Ortiz in May of last year, which raised questions about Herring’s future as an elite fighter.
Herring maintained his fighting spirit in those setbacks but he identified one nagging problem: He was too easy to hit, which his opponents exploited. He has been working on defense with former 118-pound titleholder Wayne McCullough.
“I’m not getting any younger,” Herring said. “I know where I’m at. I feel great. And I have the great Wayne McCullough in my corner. I have to be honest with myself. I’m a U.S. Marine. I have integrity.
“The main thing I’m looking for in my game is defense. I can fight, I can be that dog in the ring because I have the military grit behind me, but I lack the defensive aspect at times.
“Being here with Wayne gave me so much confidence. … I can still be in the fire without being burned. That can go a long way.”
Even a defense-challenge Herring could probably get past the relatively inexperienced Molina (13-0, 5 KOs).
It’s in his following fight — presumably against a top-tier foe — that we’ll truly know whether Herring still has the ability to fight at a championship level.