Former Long Island Olympian Jamel Herring won the first 15 bouts of a pro career that got a late start five years ago at age 27 after two tours of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps.
But after losing two of his past three fights, Herring hit the “reset” button, changing promoters and trainers while moving from Premier Boxing Champions to Top Rank.
It’s not that Herring (16-2, 9 KOs) is starting over so much as the Coram native is starting anew in his Top Rank debut against Mexico’s Juan Pablo Sanchez (29-15, 14 KOs) on the undercard of an event matching Vasiliy Lomachenko against WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. He couldn’t have picked a better place to begin a comeback.
“I definitely feel like I’m starting over, but I don’t feel like I’m starting completely over,” Herring said earlier this week. “I feel like it’s a new chapter. Me being from Long Island, I fought at the Barclays Center, but I never fought at the Garden. This is the Mecca of Boxing so this is great. I’m just happy to be home.
“I always represented Long Island and the Marine Corps, of course, but it was hard in the past to get here and fight in front of my family and friends. Now, with Top Rank, I’m able to do that again, so I’m excited. A card like this, to make my Top Rank debut, is a blessing.”
Turning pro after the 2012 London Olympics, Herring spent the first part of his pro career aligned with the camp of Adrien Broner and training in Cincinnati, where he still lives. But he was stopped two years ago in the 10th and final round by Denis Shafikov, a boxer in his 40th fight, and after an interim win, Herring lost a unanimous decision to Ladarius Miller last August in Las Vegas.
“I had to look at the whole aspect of boxing, not just with my training in terms of my team, but the business as a whole, especially after the last fight,” Herring told Newsday. “I didn’t like how I was treated. I didn’t like how it went down. I personally thought I won the fight.
“But I felt I could have done better if I had more backing with the team I had at the time. I had to make a change for myself overall with the whole aspect of boxing if I wanted to continue to succeed and push forward.”
Herring said the most difficult thing he’s ever done in boxing was making the decision to leave PBC for Top Rank. He now is trained by Brian McIntire, who also trains Terence Crawford, the reigning WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO super lightweight champion. Herring now trains with Crawford’s team at his home base in Omaha, Nebraska.
“I actually sparred with Bud [Crawford] the last camp against [former IBF champ Julius] Indongo. That’s how we built that relationship was off of that camp. I just liked the atmosphere. That’s what made me change over.
“And so far, they’ve proven it. We all have a great chemistry. There’s no egos in the camp. Everyone gets along. Bud has been great. He’s been hard on me in camp, but it’s all for a good reason. He wants me to succeed. I don’t take it personally. If anything, I appreciate that because he takes time to acknowledge me and wants to help me move on.”
Working with the Top Rank team surrounding Crawford has been a revelation to Herring. McIntire is the lead trainer, but he focuses on developing Herring’s power while a second trainer focuses on counter-punching and a third trainer helps him work on punching angles. In that respect, it’s like an NBA team assigning assistant coaches to develop specific aspects of a player’s game.
Then there’s the coordination between the strength and conditioning coach and the nutritionist. “We started changing up my diet,” Herring said. “I was strong in the past, but since I made changes in my diet, I feel even stronger now. Usually, the day before the weigh-in, I’m drained, tired and worn out. But right now, I have plenty of energy.”
So, Herring is setting out on the next stage of his career with a gung-ho attitude that reflects his Marine Corps training and his Long Island pedigree. “I want to be Long Island’s and the Marine Corps’ next champion,” Herring said. “Until the day I die, it will be all about Long Island and the United States Marine Corps.”