Sports

Marine veteran gets a grand entrance on ‘his’ weekend, then backs it up in ring to defend belt

Defending his WBO super featherweight world title on Veterans Day weekend was special for Marine veteran Jamel Herring.

He was escorted to the ring Saturday night at Chukchansi Park with two Humvees and 300 Marines to the delight of the 7,412 fans in attendance..

Talk about a grand entrance for the 34-year-old Herring, who served nine years in the Marines, with two tours in Iraq.

He made it sweeter when he retained his world boxing title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Lamont Roach Jr.

“That was a huge honor,” Herring said of the entrance. “I didn’t plan it. It was actually like a gift from Top Rank and my man Rick (promoter Rick Mirigian). It was a huge honor to come out in the Humvee and wave to the crowd and get the reaction from everybody and go to work.”

Mirigian said it took months of planning to pull off.

“I wanted to do something memorable for him,” Mirigian said. “It was important for me to make history from our city with this and we did. I wanted to show him, ESPN and Top Rank my vision with it and they let me, and for that I’m grateful.”

Herring knew something special was planned (there was even a rumor that a helicopter would deliver him), but he didn’t get the official word until he got to Chukchansi Park.

“We got the Humvee and the fireworks,” Herring said. “More importantly other than the entrance the victory is all that matters in the end because it was a good fight.”

Roach stunned Herring with a shot to the head right before the bell in the 11th round.

“It was a good shot,” he said. “I thought I had my hand up, but Lamont cuffed it behind it, and I can’t take nothing from it. It was a clean shot. I just had to tough it out and fight it out. I couldn’t go down. I’m a Marine.”

Judge Max DeLuca scored the fight 115-113 and Gary Ritter and Reynante Danseco each scored it 117-111.

Herring won his WBO title on Memorial Day weekend and successfully defended his title on Veterans Day.

“It definitely means a lot to all of our troops out there defending our country and still in harm’s way,” he said. “This is for ya’ll. I couldn’t lose it on our weekend. It means a lot to still be a world champion.”

Gabriel Flores Jr. remains unbeaten

Gabriel Flores Jr., the 19-year-old Stockton native who has become a Fresno fan favorite in four bouts here, controlled his fight from the opening bell on his way to an eight-round unanimous decision over Aelio Mesquita.

All three judges scored it 80-72 as Flores improved to 16-0.

Familiar face to Jose Ramirez

Amir Imam hadn’t stepped into the boxing ring since he lost to Jose Ramirez for the vacant WBC super lightweight world title in March 2018 in New York City.

Top Rank recently signed the 29-year-old and he made his debut with the company on Saturday, knocking out Marcos Mojjca in the fourth round.

“I just have to be consistent at this point in my career,” said Imam who improved to 22-2 and 19 knockouts. “I’m coming back in January, and I need to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to me. I felt stronger as the fight progressed. I had to get the rust off after almost 20 months out of the ring.”

Ramirez was at Chukchansi Park but not boxing Saturday night. He met with fans early then took a seat ringside for the two fights that were shown on ESPN+.

Ramirez, who last fought in July in Texas, is expected to defend his WBC belt early next year.

Heavyweights

In the co-main event, IBF No. 1 heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria won by unanimous decision over Rydell Booker.

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.
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