In the sport of boxing, things rarely goes as planned–nor do you get the chance to get a fairy tale ending.
In the case of Jamel Herring (20-2, 10 KOs) he got exactly that.
At the Osceola Heritage Park, in Kissimmee, Florida Herring faced off against WBO Super Featherweight champion Masayuki Ito (25-2-1, 13 KOs).
The odds were not stacked in Herring’s favor to say the least. Masayuki had gone three years and nine total fights without tasting defeat. According to oddsmakers, Herring was more than a three to one underdog. None of this mattered to Herring.
Under normal circumstances, Ito could have and should have cruised to a victory. Throughout his nine fight win streak, six of those wins came via stoppage. He was dominant. On this evening however, Herring would not be denied.
This particular night held plenty of meaning for the former Marine veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq. May 25th, represents Memorial Day weekend. A time of celebration for army and Marine veterans. It also represented something much bigger.
Herring’s daughter Ariyanah, passed away on this date 10 years ago due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He dedicated the biggest fight of his career to his daughter and did not disappoint.
As the contest kicked off, both men were committed to landing the jab. They each found success. Herring also managed to land several eye catching left hands while Ito did some good work of his own with his right hand.
They fought evenly throughout the first few rounds, however, it was Herring who began to take over. The marine veteran pushed the pace and used his size advantage to land shots on his opponent while making him miss as well.
The latter rounds was a war of attrition as both men were fatigued from the back and forth battle. They managed to uncork punches in bunches throughout the remainder of the contest.
It was a close affair, but Herring did more than enough to earn the victory. The judges rewarded Herring for his workman like effort as they scored the bout 118-110 and two scores of 115-113.
“I want to dedicate this fight to my daughter, Ariyanah, who passed away from SIDs,” said Herring. “Tonight would have been her 10th birthday, and I dedicate this title to her,” said Herring. “Ito was a tough competitor, but I always believed I could win a world title. This is a dream come true, and to do this on Memorial Day weekend makes it even sweeter.”
With the victory Herring has won his first world title. In the sport of boxing, that is the pinnacle. Every fighter dreams of becoming a world champion. For Herring, although becoming a champion is something he dreamed of, that feat that takes a backseat.
The newly minted WBO Super Featherweight champion has turned one of his most painful memories into undoubtedly one of his most favorite ones. If anyone deserves this storybook ending, it is Jamel Herring.