By Jake Donovan
With each performance, Jamal James does his best to prove the old adage of not judging a book by its cover.
The 6’2” welterweight dug deep to pull out his latest win, a 10-round decision over former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco (33-8-1, 24KOs) in Saturday’s PBC on FS1 headliner at The Armory in his hometown of Minneapolis, Minn.
“Because of my tall, slim frame a lot of cats think I can’t bang,” James told the Fox Sports broadcast team of his thrilling performance during on-air post fight bonus coverage. “But I come prepared. Whether it’s 10, 12… hell even 15, I’m coming to fight.”
With his sixth straight win, James is now also coming for bigger game.
A rising contender in the always stacked welterweight division, plenty of lucrative opportunities remain abound. Like everyone else who can make 147 pounds these days, though, his attention remains affixed on the biggest fight of 2019 to date.
Unbeaten welterweight titlist Keith Thurman puts his record and crown on the line versus legendary former eight-division titlist Manny Pacquiao this Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The fight is a virtual pick-‘em, with Thurman (29-0, 22KOs) opening up as a slight betting favorite but the 30-year old Florida native now sitting as a narrow underdog versus the 40-year old Filipino southpaw.
You can count James among those following that trend, however torn he remains on predicting the outcome.
“They’re both great fighters… I like Pacquiao in that one,” James (26-1, 12KOs) officially offered, though with a touch of hesitance. “Keith Thurman is a great fighter as well so you never know. But I like Pacquiao.”
What he believes to be far easier to predict is whether he will get a shot at the evening’s winner—or even the loser.
“I want Thurman or Pacquiao,” James emphatically stated of his next desired ring target. “Those are big names so they’re probably going to do a little bit of ducking. They’re going to want bigger money fights but I’d really love to fight the winner.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox