Jamal James came through with a major win that Minneapolis so badly needed in 2020.
The lean and mean welterweight from the Twin Cities powered his way to a 12-round unanimous decision win over Puerto Rico’s Thomas Dulorme in a furiously paced Fox-televised main event Saturday evening at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. Judge Alejandro Rochin scored the contest 115-113, with Zachary Young having it 116-112 and Dr. Lou Moret 117-111 all for James.
The first Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox headliner since the coronavirus pandemic was repurposed from its originally scheduled April 11 date. The fight was to have taken place in James’ Minneapolis hometown but much of the world was forced to shut down due to the ongoing global health crisis.
His beloved city endured so much worse since then, with protests, uprisings and riots sparked following the murder of George Floyd on May 25. An integral part of assisting in the rebuilding of Minneapolis came as James also prepared for the biggest opportunity of his career.
“It felt so good to get this win,” James told BoxingScene.com after the fight. “It’s been a long journey to get here. You know, with everything going on with COVID-19, all the stuff with George Floyd in my own hometown, even some personal stuff for me. I just had to stay focused in camp, go in there and handle my business.”
That energy was channeled in the ring, with James—who earned $200,000 according to official contracts filed with the California State Athletic Commission—controlling the tempo in the opening round. Both boxers are generally known to trade, but James opted to box in the early going. The 6’2” welterweight utilized his jab and lateral movement to slow down Dulorme’s offense.
It worked in round one, though Dulorme— who earned a reported $100,000—was able to close the gap in round two. A right hand to the body scored for a 30-year old former title challenger from Carolina, Puerto Rico, who was able to follow up with a left hook downstairs while James was pinned along the ropes. James returned fire with a jab and right hand, though was met with a looping right hand by Dulorme in return. A right hand by Dulorme caught James as he was trapped along the ropes late in the round, snapping back his head in the process as blood began to trickle from his nose.
“I knew what I was facing,” James said of the more experienced Dulorme. “He’s been in there and has some tricks. He caught me with a nice shot that had my nose leaking a bit but we were able to stay composed.”
Any thoughts of a boxing match quickly transitioned into the advertised two-way slugfest in round three. Dulorme continued to dial up the pressure, landing right hands along with a left hook downstairs. James took over midway through the frame, slamming home a four-punch combination and going to work with his straight right hand which landed with conviction in the final minute.
James–fighting for the first time since a thrilling 10-round win over Antonio DeMarco last July—doubled up on the jab in round four, shooting right hands behind it when he planted his feet. Dulorme continued to come forward, finding range for his left hook and also continuing to work downstairs. James alternated between trading and moving, circling around the ring as Dulorme stalked his foe.
A back-and-forth round five gave way to a high octane round six. Dulorme came flying out the gate, doubling up on his left hook and briefly rocking James. Time was called midway through the round, as Dulorme was warned by referee Thomas Taylor for hitting on the break.
The sequence provided a key momentum shift, as James unloaded with left hooks and straight right hands on the inside. Dulorme responded with two right hands, including a rabbit punch which drew a final warning from the referee.
James opened the second half working behind the jab, firing the stick with purpose as Dulorme was beginning to let the fight slip away. The veteran contender steadily charged forward, though only aiding the cause for James to unload his offense as he scored with four right hands upstairs and a left to the body in the final minute of the round.
The fight’s trend drew concern from Joel Diaz, Dulorme’s head trainer who gave his fighter an earful in English and Spanish. Dulorme responded by picking up his offense in round eight, though falling behind in several exchanges in a dominant round nine for James. Right hands continued to drop over Dulorme’s guard, with James also never abandoning his jab nor remaining in harm’s way long enough for Dulorme to respond.
After once again getting light up by his cornermen, Dulorme switched up in round ten. The Puerto Rico-based welterweight used his jab to set up his shots instead of plodding forward, working in right hands and a left hook upstairs. James exhibited a world-class chin, riding out the offensive surge and responding with right hands of his own.
The championship rounds—stemming from the generosity of the World Boxing Association (WBA) who made an interim title at stake—saw little letup from either boxer who were averaging more than 65 punches per round to that point. James employed a stick-and-move tactic to disrupt Dulorme’s flow and gaining full leverage on his long right hand.
A headbutt near the end of round eleven produced a welt under the left eye of Dulorme, though proving inconsequential. James never took advantage, instead boxing down the stretch as Dulorme struggled to set himself long enough to score the type of punch that would prevent the fight from going to the scorecards.
It never happened, as Dulorme (25-4-1, 16KOs) came up short for the second time with a title of sorts at stake. He held his own before suffering a 6th round stoppage at the hands of Terence Crawford in their April 2015 vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior welterweight title fight, while also suffering a 10-round loss to Yordenis Ugas in August 2017.
A 12-round draw versus Jessie Vargas in October 2018 helped raise Dulorme’s profile, aided by a 10-round win over then-unbeaten Terrel Williams last September. There stands a chance he can make his way back in line, though leaves the crowdless Microsoft Theater feeling like he let an opportunity slip away.
James has now won seven straight as he improves to 27-1 (12KOs). The win came through cleaner punching and greater accuracy, landing 204 of 772 punches (26%) over 12 fast-paced rounds according to Compubox. Dulorme was just as active, though only connecting on 115 of 771 punches (15%).
The lone loss of his career came in an August 2016 decision defeat to a then-comebacking Yordenis Ugas, a fight which James took on short notice and just four weeks after endured a grueling 10-round win over Wale Omotoso.
Now he heads home with a belt around his waist—just as he promised his adoring fans back home who have spent far too long in search of anything better than what 2020’s had to offer.
“It’s huge. It’s a big blessing. I don’t really have no words for it,” acknowledged a humbled James. “I’m just so proud that my people are behind me like that and admire me like that. I didn’t want to let them down. It feels so good to be able to bring this belt back home to ‘em.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox