Jamel Herring's Olympic dream was cut short by a first-round loss in the London Games, but the Coram boxer landed on his feet Wednesday when he became one of six U.S. Olympians to sign a professional deal with well-connected manager Al Haymon.
The former Marine sergeant received his discharge early by using his accumulated leave time so he can start his pro career at 26. Besides Herring, the Olympians signed by Haymon are Staten Island heavyweight Marcus Browne, super heavyweight Dominic Breazeale, middleweight Terrell Gausha, welterweight Errol Spence Jr. and flyweight Rau'shee Warren.
None of the Olympians has a promotional deal, but Haymon is aligned with Golden Boy Promotions. Herring said some of his teammates likely will show up on a Golden Boy undercard on Nov. 3, but his pro debut tentatively is planned for a Nov. 24 card featuring Andre Berto, another Haymon client, that has yet to be announced. Golden Boy also has a deal to promote monthly fight cards at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which is part of a plan to develop New York talent.
"It's an honor to sign with Al Haymon," Herring said. "A lot of us were unhappy with the Olympics. The chance to get a fresh start with Al Haymon is great. I feel I have a lot of redeeming to do. I just feel, from my performance at the Olympics, a lot of people counted me out. I can do a lot better."
Herring's disappointment was shared by his teammates, none of whom reached the medal round. He said USA Boxing's method of selecting and training the team were contributing factors. The coaching staff wasn't finalized until less than two months before the Games, and even though he won the Olympic Trials last November, he had to go through another qualifying process to finally secure a spot in May. "We only had two weeks of training in Colorado Springs before London," Herring said. "A lot of countries train all year round. We went to the last minute to get it together."
Although he was a light welterweight in the amateurs, Herring is moving down to the 135-pound lightweight division, where he should be stronger as a pro. His trainer will be Cincinnati-based Mike Stafford, who works with Olympian Warren and WBO super featherweight champ Adrien Broner. "I'm just rolling with the punches," Herring said of the dizzying jump to the pro ranks. "I'm excited to get going."