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Camp Lejeune Marine zeroes in on Olympic bid
Rick Scoppe-Jacksonville Daily News

Herring, seeded eight, is the only boxer in his class still in the winners’ bracket. Tonight, he’ll face the winner of the Duran Caferro-Pedro Sosa bout. A win by Herring and he moves on; a loss and the two boxers would square off again Saturday.

Herring beat Sosa 14-13 on Wednesday but has not fought Caferro, whom he said was a “good friend,” in the tournament.

The prize up for grabs: A ticket to the International Boxing Association (AIBA) Men’s World Championships Sept. 22-Oct. 10 in Baku, Azerbaijan, where the top eight finishers advance to the Olympics.

“I feel great,” Herring said during a telephone interview Thursday night. “I feel good mentally. I’ve got the confidence. I feel good about myself since I came up and beat the No. 2 guy in the country and beat two national champions that everybody thought was supposed to be winning the tournament.

“I basically stunned a lot of people here.”

Even himself.

“Yes, I surprised myself a lot, especially this week alone,” he said. “From CISM to now, it’s a big difference, big changes.”

Herring was referring to the CISM Military World Boxing Championships in October aboard Camp Lejeune. Herring made it to the finals but lost 7-1. Since then, he changed his style, which both he and USMC boxing coach Jesse Ravelo credited with his doing so well at the Olympic trials.

“He’s fought great,” Ravelo said. “We changed his style at the nationals and for this tournament, and here it’s working — being a boxer, puncher, standing his ground. He doesn’t back up as much as he used to before.

“Now he’s standing his ground and letting his hands go. That’s one reason why he’s winning the close bouts because of the amount of punches he’s throwing.”

Indeed. After his one-point win over Sosa, Herring beat Michael Reed 19-18 and finished in a tie on points against Thomas Duquette but won because he threw more punches (66 to 58) based on the judges’ scorecards.

“I was losing by two points going into the last round,” Herring said. “It’s kind of hard to get those points. So I had to actually go in there and sit down my punches and dig put everything out on the line and that’s how I pulled out the win with the tie breaker.”

Another time and another bout, that might not have happened.

“Last time you saw (at CISM), I bounced around a lot, too much movement,” Herring said. “I was really moving and not being active, trying to throw punches. Now I move a little now, but I sit on my punches and it helps me see everything that’s going on. Instead of me moving and missing opportunities, I can see opportunities to score punches. That’s helped a lot.”

Herring said he’s “proved a lot” since CISM.

“I’m a whole different person,” he said. “After CISM and nationals, I had to sit down with myself and basically start turning it up just a little bit more, listen to my coaches a little bit more, take their advice.”

Initially, the change felt “awkward,” he said. But no more; now he’s grown accustomed to it both mentally and physically.

“The nationals in June, I took my loss there kind of hard,” he said. “I was doubting myself, but I stick with it and kept listening to my coaches. They believed in me more at that time than I did myself. Now I’ve beat two national champions back-to-back and I’m in the finals.”

But he said he isn’t getting ahead of himself, saying he’s focused only on his next bout.

“If I win tomorrow, it’ll be a whole different story,” he said. “But right now me and my team, we know we’re not done yet.”