Just over three weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus, WBO junior lightweight world titlist Jamel Herring is feeling ready enough to put his belt on the line on Tuesday, July 14, against Jonathan Oquendo (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) -- even in the face of his team suggesting he should reconsider his title defense.
Herring tested positive on June 21, ahead of a fight against Oquendo that was originally scheduled for July 2. Herring is now symptom-free, and he tested negative in a follow-up COVID-19 test, but according to a report from ESPN's Mark Kriegel, within the past 10 days Herring's camp asked the fighter if he would be willing to turn his 12-round title defense into a 10-round non-title fight.
Herring's response was a resolute "absolutely not."
According to Kriegel, the former Marine feels bound by honor and duty, even when it might come at his own expense. Herring said he is 90% of what he usually is and that he's getting better every day. He also said he is very confident he will beat Oquendo.
Herring's strength and conditioning coach Jamie Belt said there has been no fall off in training since Herring returned, and that the only significant symptom Herring showed from the virus was a fever.
Most of the concern from Herring's team derives from the uncertainty surrounding recovery from COVID-19, per Kriegel, but the team believes they've done what they can to prepare him for Tuesday's fight.
"We have no idea how athletes recover from COVID," said Paulina Endara of Perfecting Athletes, who works as Herring's nutritionist. "This is still so new. But we've done everything we can to make sure Jamel is healthy and ready to fight."