U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring completed his Hollywood story, upsetting WBO junior lightweight world champion Masayuki “The Judge” Ito via unanimous decision Saturday evening in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,912 at Osceola Heritage Park.
Herring (20-2, 10 KOs), who prevailed by scores of 116-112 and 118-110 2x, accomplished the dream on Memorial Day weekend in front of a host of active and reserve U.S. Marines.
“I want to dedicate this fight to my daughter, Ariyanah, who passed away from SIDs. Tonight would have been her 10th birthday, and I dedicate this title to her,” said Herring. “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.”
Ito (25-2-1, 13 KOs), who was making the second defense of his world title, never could quite figure out the southpaw puzzle of Herring.
Ito had some success in the early rounds, but in the end, it was Herring who closed the show stronger.
Said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum: “When we signed Jamel, a lot of people had their doubts, but he showed the heart of a world champion. He’s a true Marine and an American hero. We are so proud of what this young man has accomplished.”
Pedraza back in win column
Former two-division world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza is on the hunt again.
Pedraza (26-2, 13 KOs) knocked out Mexican veteran Antonio Lozada Jr. in the ninth round to win the vacant WBO Latino lightweight title. Lozada (40-3-1, 24 KOs) had not tasted defeat in nearly six years, while Pedraza rebounded from a game effort in a decision loss to Vasiliy Lomachenko last December.
Pedraza knocked down Lozada with a counter left hand, which spelled the beginning of the end for Lozada, who made his name in March 2018 with a stunning 10th-round knockout of the previously unbeaten Puerto Rican star Felix Verdejo.
“I would like to be world champion again at 135, maybe make a title defense and then move up to 140,” Pedraza said. “Lozada was a tough opponent who came to fight with all of his heart. He was a great test for me, and I passed it with flying colors. I can’t wait to see what is next.”
In other action:
— In a battle for the vacant WBO international junior bantamweight title, Koki Eto (24-4-1, 19 KOs) and Jeyvier Cintron (10-0, 5 KOs) fought to a no-contest after it was determined that a headbutt knocked out Cintron. The Florida State Athletic Commission reversed the initial decision of a first-round knockout for Eto, leaving the title vacant.
— Featherweight Adam Lopez is a contender now. The Glendale, California, native overcame a slow start to knock out Jean Carlos Rivera (15-2, 10 KOs) in the seventh round. Lopez battered Rivera against the ropes with a furious combination to end the sixth. Rivera slumped back to his corner and somehow came out for the seventh. Smelling blood in the water, Lopez (13-1, 6 KOs) pounced, forcing the referee to stop the carnage.
“I started a bit slow, but I listened to my corner and made adjustments,” Lopez said. “I knew he had trouble making weight, so I kept pressing him. I saw my opportunity and took full advantage of it.”
— Middleweight sensation Edgar Berlanga (11-0, 11 KOs) did it again, scoring his 11th straight first-round knockout to begin his career. Gyorgy Varju (7-5, 4 KOs) lasted only 43 seconds, as a right-left combination floored the Hungarian for the count.
“Felix Trinidad called me just before I walked to the ring. That’s all the motivation I needed,” Berlanga said. “I hope I made him proud.”
— It was brief, and it was stunning. Jose Cardenas (17-4, 14 KOs) scored a devastating one-punch knockout over 2016 U.S. Olympian Antonio Vargas (10-1, 4 KOs) at 1:53 of the opening round of a scheduled eight-round bantamweight bout. A right hand put to the point of Vargas’ chin knocked him face-first to the canvas.
— Marco Diaz (2-0, 2 KOs) needed only 50 seconds to knock out Edgard Figueroa (3-2, 1 KO) in a scheduled four-round featherweight bout.
— Puerto Rican super featherweight prospect Henry “Moncho” LeBron (9-0, 7 KOs) needed only 2:43 to knock out veteran Luis Ruiz Lizarraga Jr. (6-13-1, 2 KOs). Lizarraga’s corner signaled to the referee to stop the fight.
— Puerto Rican featherweight prospect Orlando Gonzalez (11-0, 8 KOs) made it look easy, knocking out Roxberg Patrick Riley (13-2, 7 KOs) in the third round. Gonzalez ended matters with a right hook. Riley got to his feet but stumbled into the ropes, forcing the referee to stop the fight.
— Steve “So Cold” Nelson improved to 14-0, knocking out Victor Darocha (8-5-1, 6 KOs) in the seventh round of a scheduled eight-round light heavyweight bout.
— Former super flyweight world champion Carlos Cuadras (38-3-1, 27 KOs) rolled to an eight-round unanimous decision over Daniel Lozano (15-7, 11 KOs) in a bantamweight contest. Scores were 80-72 2x and 79-73.