Jamel Herring fulfills world title dream with boxing clinic over Masayuki Ito

Less than two years ago, Jamel Herring’s career looked done after suffering his second loss as a pro to Ladarius Miller.

After signing a promotional deal with Top Rank, he rebuilt his career and teamed up with pound-for-pound elite Terence Crawford. On Saturday night, Herring fulfilled his goal of becoming a world titleholder.

Herring outboxed Masayuki Ito to win by unanimous decision before a sold-out crowd of 2,912 at the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee, Florida.

With the win, Herring (20-2, 10 knockouts) captured the WBO junior lightweight title.

It was a long road for Herring, which included fighting on preliminary undercards over the last year or so. Herring entered the Ito fight having won his previous three fights.

Ito, who was attempting to make the second title defense of the WBO title he won on July 28,  was the aggressor from the opening bell during the first three rounds, but fought in spurts in hopes of connecting with overhand right hands to the head.

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

By the fourth round, the southpaw Herring was effective in making Ito miss and countering with right hooks to the head. Herring was the more-effective fighter by the midway point of the fight, outboxing Ito from distance.

Both fighters showed their fatigue by the ninth round. Sensing he was down in the fight, Ito closed the distance between the two fighters, letting his hands go and connecting with right hands to the head.

Herring got a second wind in round 10, effectively outboxing Ito and keeping his distance. It looked as though Herring scored a knockdown midway through round 11, but referee Frank Gentile ruled Ito had been cuffed behind the head and dragged down.

It did not matter in the end as Herring won by scorecards of 118-110, 118-110, and 116-112.

Herring dedicated the fight in the memory of his daughter, Ariyanah.

“I want to dedicate this fight to my daughter, Ariyanah, who passed away from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome),” said an emotional Herring after the fight. “Tonight would have been her 10th birthday, and I dedicate this title to her.”

“Ito was a tough competitor, but I always believed I could win a world title. This is a dream come true, and to do this on Memorial Day weekend makes it even sweeter. I am willing to fight all the champions. It doesn’t matter.”

“When we signed Jamel, a lot of people had their doubts, but he showed the heart of a world champion,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “He’s a true Marine and an American hero. We are so proud of what this young man has accomplished.”

Ito, who resides in Tokyo, drops to 25-2-1 (13 KOs).

In the co-feature bout, lightweight contender and former two-division world titleholder Jose Pedraza stopped Antonio Lozada in the ninth round.

With the win, Pedraza (26-2, 13 KOs) claimed a vacant regional title belt.

The clash was a crossroads bout with the winner likely getting an opportunity to fight any of the world titleholders at 135 pounds.

The taller Lozada was the aggressor throughout much of the fight. Lozada did get in an occasional hook or cross, but the quicker and more-technical Pedraza easily countered with combinations to the head and body.

As the bout progressed, Lozada began to tire. Sensing the fatigue on Lozada, Pedraza began to connect with more regularity to the body. The tactic worked as Lozada began to look worse for wear, with bruising on his face.

With about a minute left in the ninth round, Pedraza dropped Lozada with a counter left hook to the head. Lozada did beat the count, but Pedraza battered him against the ropes, prompting Lozada’s corner to throw in the towel. Referee Telis Assimenios stopped the bout at 2:34.

“Lozada was a tough opponent who came to fight with all of his heart,” said Pedraza, who resides in Cidra, Puerto Rico. “He was a great test for me, and I passed it with flying colors.”

“I became a champion in this (lightweight) division, and I want to become a champion in this division again and in the (heavier) divisions as well. I would like to be a world champion again at 135 (pounds), maybe make a title defense, and then move up to 140. I can’t wait to see what is next.”

Pedraza is ranked No. 6 by the WBO and No. 7 by the WBC.

Lozada, who resides in Tijuana, Mexico, drops to 40-3-1, 34 KOs. He is best known for stopping Felix Verdejo on Mar. 17 of last year.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing  

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Koki Eto’s first round KO of Jeyvier Cintron overturned to headbutt no-decision

Koki Eto thought he notched an impressive knockout victory over Jeyvier Cintron Saturday night and became a legitimate contender in the junior bantamweight division.

The emphatic first-round knockout win over previously-unbeaten Jeyvier Cintron became a no-decision at the Osceola Heritage Center in Kissimmee, Florida.

Eto, who resides in Tokyo, Japan, was a significant step-up in opposition for Cintron, who was a solid prospect and represented Puerto Rico at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

Both fighters had their moments during the first half of the opening round. A right hand to the chin dropped Cintron to the canvas, but replays showed an inadvertent clash of heads before Eto landed the right hand to the head.

Cintron attempted to get up from the knockdown, but he staggered across the ring, prompting referee Andrew Glenn to stop the fight at 2:03.

About 20 minutes after the fight ended, the Florida Athletic Commission saw replays of the fight, prompting them to reverse the original outcome to a no-decision.

Eto (24-4-1, 1 ND, 20 knockouts) is ranked amongst the top-10 by all major sanctioning bodies, with a No. 4 ranking by the WBO. Entering the Cintron fight, the 31-year-old Eto had won his previous eight bouts since losing by unanimous decision to then-WBC junior bantamweight titleholder Carlos Cuadras in November of 2015.

Cintron, who was one of Top Rank’s top unbeaten prospects, goes to 10-0 (5 KOs) with one no decision. He was ranked No. 5 by the WBO.

In an all-out action fight between featherweight prospects, Adam Lopez overcame a knockdown to stop Jean Carlos Rivera in the seventh round.

It was a compelling clash between two fighters with a loss on their records. Rivera was the house favorite as he is lives in nearby Orlando.

With about a minute left in the second round, a well-timed left hook to the head dropped Lopez to the canvas. Lopez was not visibly hurt, and attempted to fire back with combinations after getting up from the canvas.

Rivera was the more-effective fighter, but Lopez (13-1, 6 KOs), who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, began to close the distance and connect with hard right hands to the head in round five.

At the end of the sixth round, Lopez hurt Rivera to the head, sending him staggering across the ring as the bell sounded to end the round. Referee Massimo Montannini administered an eight count as Rivera was in his corner being tended to by his trainer and second.

Sensing Rivera was still hurt, Lopez pounced on the Puerto Rican fighter, battering him against the ropes until Montannini saw enough and stopped the bout at 16 seconds.

“I started a bit slow, but I listened to my corner and made adjustments,” said Lopez, who is trained by James “Buddy” McGirt. “I knew he had trouble making weight, so I kept pressing him. I saw my opportunity and took advantage of it.”

Rivera drops to 15-2 (10 KOs).

In bantamweight action, former WBC world junior bantamweight titleholder Carlos Cuadras defeated former contender Daniel Lozano by unanimous decision over eight rounds.

Cuadras, who had not fought since defeating Ricardo Nunez by technical decision on Aug. 18, used his height and reach to outbox Lozano (15-7, 11 KOs) from distance throughout much of the fight.

Scores were 80-72, 80-72, and 79-73 for Cuadras, who improves to 38-3-1 (27 KOs).

In an upset Jose Cardenas (17-4, 14 KOs) scored a one-punch knockout win over bantamweight prospect and 2016 United States Olympian Antonio Vargas.

A right cross to the head dropped Vargas (10-1, 4 KOs) face-first to the canvas, where he laid almost motionless as referee Telis Assimenios counted Vargas out at 1:53.

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Hard-Hitting middleweight Edgar Berlanga of New York City notched another knockout victory, this time knocking out Hungary’s Gyorgy Varju (7-5, 4 KOs) in the opening round. Referee Andrew Glenn immediately waved the fight off at 36 seconds after Berlanga dropped Varju to the canvas.

Featherweight prospect Orlando Gonzalez (11-0, 8 KOs) stopped Dallas’ Roxberg Riley (13-2, 7 KOs) in the third round. Gonzalez, a southpaw from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, dominated the action until referee Massimo Montanini stopped the bout.

Junior lightweight Henry Lebron (9-0, 7 KOs) of Puerto Rico won by knockout in the opening round when Mexico’s Luis Lizarraga’s (6-13-1, 2 KOs) corner threw in the towel at 2:43 to save their fighter from taking further punishment. Lebron had dropped Lizarraga earlier in the round.

Hard-hitting light heavyweight Steven Nelson, who trains alongside Terence Crawford, battered Miami’s Victor Darocha (8-5-1, 6 KOs) before stopping him in the eighth and final round. Nelson improves to 14-0, 11 KOs.

Featherweight Marco Diaz (2-0, 2 KOs) knocked out Edgar Figueroa (3-2, 1 KO) at 50 seconds of the opening round.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at santio89@yahoo.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing  

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