Jamal James has seen his boxing career slowed down by a pandemic that began on the other slide of the world, but it’s a movement from his own hometown that has him eager to restart his boxing career.
Long before Minneapolis served as ground zero for what has now become a worldwide fight for racial equality and social justice, James has always fought on behalf of his community. It’s in the mission statement that comes from the Circle of Discipline boxing gym, where he was first introduced to the sport at age five and where—nearly 27 years later—he remains at the forefront of its day-to-day operation.
By the time his next fight rolls around, James (26-1, 12KOs) has a chance to bring home the gym’s first major pro title. The opportunity to face Puerto Rico’s Thomas Dulorme for the interim version of the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight belt was supposed to have taken place in April in his Minneapolis hometown. The bout was postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and will likely serve as among the first fights to be presented by Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) once its schedule resumes hopefully this summer.
“If it were up to me, I’d be running out taking all the belts,” James noted while recently taking over the PBC Facebook page. “Right now, they’re setting up the fight with me and Dulmore still for the interim title. So, that’s where my focus is at right now.”
James will have been out of the ring for more than a year by the time the fight is rescheduled. He has been out of the ring since a thrilling 10-round win over Antonio DeMarco last July in front of a packed house at The Armory in Minneapolis.
Outside the ring, James continues to serve as a pillar of his community, one which has captured worldwide attention given the recent death of George Floyd, a 46-year old African-American male who was murdered on May 25 in Minneapolis. The four officers involved in the horrific act were fired and subsequently charged for the heinous and fatal crime, with news of the initial act sparking worldwide protests and demonstrations which continue to grow in numbers.
James is doing his part locally to make sure his peers have food and supplies, all while keeping in shape and awaiting word on when he can expect to step in the ring. The good fight continues on in the form of demonstrations and demand for justice. As for the welterweight contender, there’s still an actual fight as it relates to his primary career.
Ever the provider, he hasn’t lost sight of either mission.
“I don’t ever overlook any opponent,” vows James, who has won six straight since his lone career loss, a 10-round decision to Yordenis Ugas in a short-notice assignment in August 2016. “When you start overlooking somebody, that’s when they mess around and catch you sleeping, and you just gonna let them walk past you.
“Treat every fight like it’s a championship fight. That’s my philosophy.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox