For the first time in nearly 40 years, two world boxing titles will be decided on one Minnesota card as Minneapolis boxers Jamal “Shango” James and David Morrell Jr. vie for championship honors in separate fights.
Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) and Fox Sports have confirmed that local fan favorite James (26-1, 12 KOs), will battle highly ranked veteran Thomas Dulorme (25-3-1, 16 KOs), for the World Boxing Association’s interim welterweight title on Saturday, April 11 at the Minneapolis Armory.
The second WBA championship match pits Morrell Jr. (2-0, 2 KOs) against veteran Lennox Allen (22-0-1, 14 KOs). Morrell Jr. is the WBA’s No. 3 ranked super middleweight contender and Allen is the No. 1 contender.
A native of Cuba now fighting out of Minneapolis, Morrell recently joined the pro ranks after winning 130 of 132 amateur bouts.
The April 11 event is the first of four nationally televised boxing shows coming to the Armory in 2020. Details of future cards will be announced at a later date.
In a sign that the Armory is stepping up in class, all four 2020 cards are scheduled to be televised on Fox – an especially big platform typically reserved for the network’s top boxing events.
James has long desired to fight for a world championship in front of his home fans. He’s thrilled that the fight will take place at the Armory, a historic venue steeped on boxing tradition.
Unbeaten in four fights at the Armory, James has been lobbying for a championship opportunity since last July, when he defeated former world titleholder Antonio DeMarco in a fan-friendly thriller at the downtown Minneapolis landmark.
“I’m super hungry. I’ve been looking for my belt. It’s time for that belt. Shango needs to shine,” James said.
Dulorme, a former world title challenger and native of Puerto Rico, presents a tough test. In his two most recent bouts, Dulorme defeated previously unbeaten Terrel Williams and earned a draw with former world champion Jessie Vargas.
Dulorme’s previous title shot came in April 2015. Vying for the vacant WBO super lightweight crown, he was stopped in the sixth round by Terrance Crawford, one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
James and Dulorme have one common opponent: Yordenis Ugas, a former Olympian from Cuba. Fighting on short notice, James dropped a decision to Ugas in August 2016 -- the Minneapolis fighter's only professional loss. Ugas beat Dulorme a year later in a bout that also went to the scorecards.
James, who fought four times at the Armory in 2018 and 2019, is ranked No. 6 by the WBA and No. 12 by the WBC. ESPN has James at No. 8.
A rangy 6-2 fighter with superior boxing skills and a powerful body attack, James says he presents a “serious problem” for any opponent.
“I’ve got the height; I’ve got the range. I’ve got speed and I’ve got the strength as well. I think that’s a huge obstacle for anybody in the welterweight division.”
Morrell turned pro last August with a blowout win over Yendris Rodriguez Valdez at the Armory. He recently signed a long-term contract with Warriors Boxing of South Florida and Russia-based Ural Promotions.
Morrell’s manager, Minneapolis native and legendary promoter Luis DeCubas, can’t hold back his enthusiasm for this young boxing phenom.
“This dynamic young gun is going to be a superstar in our sport,” DeCubas said. “Morrell’s amateur record is stunning. To tell you the truth, in the ring he reminds me of a young Sugar Ray Robinson, who fittingly fought at the Armory in his prime. Minnesota boxing fans are in for a treat to see the start of a ring career we expect to soar.”
The star-studded boxing event at the Armory has been a long time coming. Boxing historians have to go back nearly four decades to find a comparable Minnesota extravaganza that featured two world championship matches.
On July 7, 1980, at the Metropolitan Sports Center in Bloomington, Minnesota boxer Scott LeDoux lost to Larry Holmes in a bid for the Easton Assassin’s WBC world heavyweight championship belt. Also on that card, Saoul Mamby successfully defended his WBC Super Lightweight strap against Esteban De Jesus.
Rich in boxing tradition, the Armory has hosted fights featuring all-time greats that include Sugar Ray Robinson, Henry Armstrong and Fritzie Zivic, and local legends such as Glen Flanagan and Jack Gibbons. In 2019, the Armory hosted more PBC boxing cards than the Staples Center in Los Angeles, and the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York.