But James wants more – much more – than a win in this fight, including a rematch against the only man who has ever defeated him as a pro: WBA (Super) welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas.
“Jamal James has worked his way to the top of the welterweight division,” said Tom Brown, president of TGB Promotions. “Jamal will take one step closer to elite status if he manages to defeat the undefeated Radzhab Butaev.”
James has knocked out two opponents in his seven straight 147-pound wins, a race that includes a unanimous WBA (regular) title-winning decision over Thomas Dulorme in his last fight in August.
James’ only loss came in August 2016 via a 10-round unanimous decision against Ugas of Cuba. James, aka “Shango,” took the fight on three days’ notice after Ugas original opponent Bryant Perrella retired with a thumb injury.
“I was a little too confident in myself, taking it on such a short notice, but my timing and everything was wrong,” said James, 33. “I was trying to hit him with heavy punches instead of just boxing him. It was a tough lesson but a good one. The fight against Ugas is one I would like to find again, and winning this next fight could give me that opportunity.
The 6-foot-2 James (27-1, 12 KOs) could win the rematch by passing Russia’s Butaev (13-0, 10 KOs) on Saturday at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas in a Premier Boxing Champions event on Showtime (10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT).
The main event undercard includes Jaron Ennis (27-0, 25 KOs) in pursuit of his 18th consecutive KO against Dulorme (25-5-1, 16 KOs) of Puerto Rico.
Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs) was declared “super champion” by the WBA, who mandated a defense of his crown against Lithuanian Eimantas Stanionis (13-0, 9 KOs), with the winner facing the winner of James -Butaev in March 2022.
The WBA made its resolution last month to reduce its number of champions to just one out of its current total of three per weight class – super, regular and interim title holders.
“The WBA should really only have one title for all of its weight classes instead of having multiple champions per weight class where it’s like, ‘Who’s the real champion?'” Said James. “Since Ugas is the super champion and I am the regular champion, I think as a regular champion I should be the first to have this opportunity to fight him.”
Ugas won a unanimous decision in August against eight division champion Manny Pacquiao to defend the crown he won by split decision against Abel Ramos in September 2020.
“When we fought it was on short notice, and it was always a competitive fight that went the distance. I’d love to see what would happen if we both had full camps, ”said James.
“I would love to fight with one of the big names, but I’m cool with the tournament because I want rematch with Ugas, especially because he had this great victory over Pacquiao.”
Besides Ramos, losing a majority decision in 10 rounds in April 2018 against James, Ugas shares Dulorme with James as an opponent. In a unanimous decision loss to Ugas in August 2017, Dulorme went from a pair of knockdowns in the second round and scored one of his own in the seventh.
“I don’t take it like, ‘Well, I beat Ramos and Dulorme easier than Ugas, who struggled with them, because styles make fights, and I have style and skills. different from Ugas against these particular opponents, ‘”says Jacques.
“A rematch with Ugas would be great, especially after beating Manny Pacquiao. But I have a title and I know Radzhab Butaev wants my title. I take Butaev very seriously. God willing, I’ll be victorious, so we can do a game against Ugas or one of the other big names.
Nicknamed “The Python”, Butaev won his last fight in December 2020 by knockout in the third round against Terry Chatwood, who entered at 9-0-1 (5 KOs).
“We worked hard for a year before this fight. Everything is going very well at camp, and we are delighted to finally enter the ring against James, ”said Butaev.
“I saw how James fights, and it’s definitely going to be a clash of styles. I can just promise that I will bring the war and make it an exciting fight. I will start writing my story on October 30th.
James and Butaev share a common opponent in Janer Gonzalez, who came in at 19-0-1 (15 KOs) before suffering consecutive losses.
Butaev won an eight-round unanimous decision over Gonzalez in November 2017, while James stopped him in the sixth round of his next fight in February 2019.
“I know Butaev will be ready because I have a title, and at this level all these guys are coming in with their A game,” said James. “But he doesn’t have as much experience as I do. It’s a dangerous sport, and there are many ways I can fight and win and be resourceful. “
Since his loss to Ugas, James’ run has featured a 10-round unanimous decision over former world title challenger Ionut “JoJo” Dan ion (July) and a third-round knockout of former interim weight world champion. welterweight Diego Chaves (December) both in 2017. The victory over Ramos preceded a second round knockout of Mahonri Montes in August 2018.
After beating Gonzalez, James won a unanimous decision over former lefty champion Antonio DeMarco in July 2019.
“I used my height to win from a distance, and I used my inner game,” said James. “I did it successfully where I didn’t allow the camera and the lights to disturb my head. That won’t change when I’m in the ring on Saturday against Butaev.
Meanwhile, Ennis seeks to maintain the rich Philadelphia boxing tradition that spawned champions Joe Frazier, Bernard Hopkins, Steve Cunningham, Danny Garcia, Julian Williams Stephen Fulton and others.
“Jaron Ennis definitely belongs to this conversation. He’s a monster of next-level explosive talent, ”said Cunningham, a 45-year-old retired two-time cruiserweight champion. “There are things Jaron does in the ring where you ask, ‘How does he do that?’ Jaron is destined to be a unified, undisputed welterweight champion if you ask me.
Named “Perspective of the Year 2020” by Ring Magazine, Ennis embraces the lineage of past and current boxers in the City of Brotherly Love. In his last fight in April, Ennis scored a sixth round knockout against former champion Sergey Lipinets, who came in at 16-1-1 (12 KOs) before being knocked out for the first time in his career.
Dulorme’s last two fights have been unanimous decision losses to James in August 2020 and the undefeated Stanionis in April.
“Dulorme is a good fighter, and I’m not taking anything away from him. He’s fought a lot of great guys, world champions. But Dulorme has to go because I’m on a different level right now, ”said Ennis, 24, who is coached by his father, Bozy.
“I have so many Philly fans coming to this fight. I will feel like I’m fighting at home. I would love to keep fighting in Vegas, get my friends out of Philly and make them a second home. I’m coming to take over the welterweight division, and he’s on my way. I come for all the belts.
Edited by Stan Chrapowicki and Matthew B. Hall