Jamel Herring was the weekend’s big winner as he took ownership of Masayuki Ito’s WBO super-featherweight strap in an engaging Florida headliner. Herring provided the requisite personal story so often craved by ESPN’s in-house narrative starters like Mark Kriegel. While the death of his daughter was a genuinely poignant source of motivation, the fact that Herring was a former member of the US military slotted neatly into Memorial Day Weekend in the States. A second reason for the Cincinnati man to prevail – and he duly delivered.
Belt holder Ito was precisely that: a belt holder. Crude, unrefined, but supremely fit in the traditional Japanese mould, Ito had never boxed as an amateur. Relying on his grit, the 28-year-old had claimed world honours in a vacant scrap with Christopher Diaz. Whether either of those two was truly world class in the very essence of the term remains open to debate. Diaz was sent in by Top Rank to pick up the vacant title, but his fellow challenger had other ideas. Ito followed that up with a defence against Russian Evgeny Chuprakov before surrendering his belt to Herring. Ito, in turn, was being lined up -victory dependent- on a unification with WBC champion Miguel Berchelt. Herring will likely assume that role. Mexican Berchelt is head and shoulders above any of those names mentioned.
The question of how good Hughie Fury remains unanswered. Looking slim of frame, shiny of skin and fleet of foot, Hughie was twitching in and out of range similar to his estranged relation, Tyson. As impressive as Hughie looked, keep in mind that opponent Chris Norrad was the 10th best heavyweight in Canada. Despite his unbeaten slate, the visitor was never likely to cause someone of Fury’s ability (a man who had gone the distance with Joseph Parker and Kubrat Pulev) too many issues. So it proved. Once Norrad felt the power, he folded. Hughie did all that was asked of him. Just like in his British title fight with Sam Sexton, Fury sensed an inferior foe and eliminated him at the first available opportunity.
On a wafer-thin undercard promoter, Mick Hennessy, did the best job he could with the resources at hand. Channel 5 is unlikely to be throwing a whole boatload of cash in Mick’s direction. Throw in the fact that boxers’ purses have shifted up a level of late (take the inflated WBSS cheques being written), and the London promoter is left wheeling and dealing like Steptoe and Son at the scrap yard. Hennessy has been in the game a long time, having promoted and handled many an exceptional fighter over the years. The problem Mick has is holding on to them. Hughie Fury is the only remaining jewel in his sparsely decorated crown.