Marine vet Jamel Herring enters the boxing ring for biggest test of pro career

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    Jamel Herring

    It’s a big night for Marine vet, Jamel Herring. The 30-year-old light welterweight boxer will headline his first fight card tonight on Fox Sports1. Fighting under Premier Boxing Champions banner for the first time, Herring (14-0, 8 KOs) will go up against Colombian Luis Flores (21-2, 17 KOs) at the Sands Events Center in Bethlehem, Pa.

    Nicknamed “Semper Fi,” there’s no mistaking Herring’s military background when being interviewed. The always polite southpaw boxer responds almost always with “Yes sir” and “No sir.”

    “Yes sir, I believe this fight is going to get me to the point where I need to be at,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “I see this year, starting with this fight, as a big year because I don’t want to move backward. I want to keep progressing and moving forward.”

    The native New Yorker and former U.S. Olympian fought for the American team in the 2012 London Games — the only Marine to do so. “That was a big honor,” he said, explaining to boxing junkie that he extended his contract with the Marines for a year so he could represent them in London. He lost in the first round, but says he was “enriched by the experience and proud to be a Marine through it all.”

    Herring spent nine years in the Corps and served two deployments in Iraq. He says he went “back and forth debating on continuing with my military career, or take a chance and see how I feel about going pro.” He eventually decided to give up his military career to pursue his dream of being a professional boxer.

    The survival skills he learned in the military though were  invaluable.

    During his first deployment in Fallujah, Herring was an electrician, but during the second in 2007, he was on a more dangerous security detail. “It was totally different,” he said. “It was long hours, I saw more IEDs going off, there was just a lot of craziness going on out there my second time back.”

    He says it was such a culture shock being overseas, and he learned to appreciate the little things in life. When he needs to get motivated for fights, he says, he just thinks back to his days in Iraq when “survival was a daily exercise.”

    Herring says when he got back to the States he was “just happy to see grass.” It’s that attitude that helped Herring get to where he is today in the world of boxing. Herring defeated Yakubu Amidu by UD in October, but tonight, against Flores, he says– it could be the first big test of his professional career.

    Herring will no doubt go out there and perform his best. As they say– “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

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