The proposed bout between WBO junior lightweight world titleholder Jamel Herring and former two-division world champion Carl Frampton will now take place in January.
"The timeline apparently now is that they're looking at January," Herring told ESPN on Thursday afternoon. "I actually wanted to come back in December."
The originally proposed date for Herring-Frampton was in November, but those plans were scuttled when Herring suffered injuries to his right eye during his encounter with Jonathan Oquendo on Sept. 5. Oquendo was disqualified after eight rounds, because of an intentional head-butt that caused a cut near Herring's right eye in the fifth.
At the time of the stoppage, Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) was up on all three scorecards (80-70, 80-70 and 79-71).
Herring came out victorious and with his title intact, but the injuries have disrupted his fall plans. As Herring left the ring on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Conference Center, he had a quick conversation ringside with Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank, before heading to the hospital to have his injuries tended to.
"I told Bob, 'regardless of what happened tonight, I still want to continue with my obligation to face Carl in November," Herring said. "Bob pulled me in and said that he knew I went through a lot, going through two, three training camps in one summer, and on top of that, he felt I needed more rest from COVID. So that was actually Bob looking out for my well-being and I had to take that into consideration."
Herring's title defense against Oquendo was delayed twice because of Herring testing positive for COVID-19, before they eventually met on the third try. Despite hoping to get right back into the ring against Frampton, the combination of a scratched cornea and a damaged orbital socket delayed the bout again.
"I apparently had an old fracture in my face that didn't properly heal right. That fracture probably came from the Denis Shafikov fight," said Herring, referring to his 2016 bout in which he suffered his first professional loss. "So I've been through worse, it's not a matter of quitting.
"The doctor thought I had an old fracture that didn't heal properly, so when [Oquendo] kept head-butting, it was basically shifting into my right eye socket, and that was also causing an issue. That's what they put on the medical records, as well, on the notes. So it was basically the lens on my eye being scratched up and an old injury that was irritated again... It wasn't the blood like I thought it was, because my eye was so bloody. I thought it was the blood filling into my eye."
Arum says it won't be an issue pushing the Frampton fight into 2021.
"The guy has to heal, first, there's no reason to rush it," said Arum, who's company has a full slate of fall fights. "We're going to be busy, we have a lot of shows, including the [Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury fight on Dec. 19]. So we'll punt it to January. What's the hurry?"
Herring and Arum both mentioned the possibility that pushing this bout back could also allow the fight to take place in Ireland, where Frampton is a major draw, and increase the possibility of a live crowd.