Herring shakes off first loss with 3-round TKO

R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio.
I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

TOLEDO, OHIO – On Friday, February 10 the fact that world titles were on the line catapulted the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) card – televised live on Bounce TV – into marquee status for the boxing world. For some of the event’s fighters the card represented a celebration of sorts. The fight essentially served as a highly-anticipated homecoming for undefeated IBF World lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr.

Three-time Olympian and IBO/WBA Super World bantamweight titleholder Rau’Shee Warren only needed to make a short 200-mile road trip north, on I-75 from Cincinnati, to defend his titles in front of a nice-sized contingent of friends and supporters.

A few of the Ohio-based fighters on the undercard received their invites to showcase their skills in front of their family and friends. The event representing the biggest stage for many of their respective careers.

The event even represented the first part of a monumental feat for About Billions Promotions. Part two goes down next week as the outfit moves to Showtime Boxing on Feb. 18, as its biggest draw Adrien “The Problem” Broner faces Adrian Granados at the Cintas Center at Xavier University.

A violent sport like boxing rarely lends itself to too many feel-good moments, but before the fight bells began ringing, it was an awesome experience to take in the Huntington Center’s sold out crowd of 8,000 applauding each of its hometown fighters. However, one fighter entered the night needing to bounce back from his first professional defeat. Having never reached championship status, the road to that goal was now farther away for that fighter following the loss, and even the wrong kind of victory in the night’s bout could create several new forks in the road for 31-year old lightweight Jamel Herring.

Unfortunately for Herring’s opponent, Art Hovhannisyan (17-4-3, 9 KOs), the one-loss southpaw is a former U.S. Marine with readiness permanently drilled into his being. The Cincinnati-based lightweight nicknamed “Semper Fi” entered the ring, and put on a performance that personified the USMC’s role and mission to act as “…a force, versatile, fast-moving, and hard-hitting…” The result, a three-round technical knockout win after Hovhanissyan failed to answer the bell for round-four.

California’s Hovhanniysan represented  the type of fighter many expected to test Herring (16-1, 9 KOs) in a number of ways. Was Herring – the captain of the 2012 U.S. Olympic boxing team –  the typical case of the late-starting professional boxer? Did Herring’s tenth round stoppage loss to Denis Shafikov in July 2016 signal the beginning of the end for his world title aspirations? Hovhannisyan’s resume and experience suggested he was capable of applying enough pressure and grit to create some degree of doubt in Herring over the fight’s scheduled eight rounds. Lionheart’s durability was also proven, having never been stopped as a pro.

Herring landed a stinging right hand early in the first round indicating that his focus was singular. He planned to avenge his loss, and in convincing fashion. Herring fought a solid first round controlling the action with his jab, and also began finishing up his combinations with body shots. Not many landed cleanly early on, but solid defense below freed up Herring’s jab up top. His commitment to the body work continued into the second round where he gradually started  to land several left hands below Hovhannisyan’s guard. Herring then started shooting uppercuts to further vary his attack. With the fight firmly in his control Herring connected with a left hook to the body that left Hovhannisyan struggling to survive the round’s final minute.

The action quickly moved into the ropes where Herring unloaded a flurry of powerful shots as Hovhannisyan attempted to duck, cover up, and recover. Several shots connected, it looked like Hovhannisyan was ready to go, but the ref stepped in to separate the fighters at the bell.

Herring blasted Hovhannisyan with a straight left to open round-three, but the California native surprisingly responded with his best offense to that point in the fight. As Herring attempted to capitalize on the punishment he handed out over the previous round’s final minute, looking to finish his opponent with each shot, Hovhannisyan started finding openings for hooks to the body around Herring’s guard. As if on cue, Herring resumed with his body work.

Hovhannisyan found himself in trouble once again as the round came to an end. This time it was a Herring right hook that knocked him into the ropes just shortly before the bell sounded. Moments later referee Gary Wolfe signaled to the crowd that the fight was over as he crossed center ring, and made his way over to the Herring corner to inform them Hovhannisyan would not continue into the fourth round. Mission accomplished for Herring.

After Herring made his way back out to the Huntington Center floor to receive congratulations from several figures from within the Cincinnati boxing community that filled the first few rows behind Adrien Broner’s ringside seat, I had the chance to speak with him regarding his reaction to the big win. He believed that the win marks his redemption after the disappointing Shafikov loss. He added that he expected Hovhannisyan to make the fight a real battle, but he sensed early on that the fight was there for the taking, so he exploited the opportunity to convince fans he really is what his 16-1 record suggest he is. A steadily improving, good fighter that just earned his 9th knockout victory against a credible opponent who had never failed to finish a fight. Lastly, due to the short night of work Herring said that he plans to urge PBC’s Al Haymon to make a fight within 3-4 months, and that he aims to fight at least three times in 2017.

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R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio. I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

R.L. Woodson

Cinephile, audiophile, and avid sports fan. I am the creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind sports and entertainment podcast found on TalkLoudRadio. I podcast and write to cope with my continuing struggle to play guitar.

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