By Jake Donovan
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.--Jamal James continues his hard-fought road from prospect to contender, while Vic Darchinyan is officially done as a player on any level.
The aftermath of Deontay Wilder's 8th round stoppage over Chris Arreola saw a pair of bouts air live in spill-over coverage on FS1. James opened the show with a split decision win over Wale Omotoso, overcoming an opening round knockdown to prevail in his toughest test to date Saturday evening at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
Scores were 96-93 and 97-92 for James, and 96-93 for Omotoso.
At no point was it easy for the unbeaten welterweight from Minneapolis. He was the better boxer over the course of the contest, but was forced to ride out a right hand that put him on the canvas in round one.
"It was close to behind my head, but it was a big shot and it definitely caught my attention," James (20-0. 9KOs) admitted to BoxingScene.com after the bout. "I overcame it, and it made me just lock in, listen to my corner and stick to the game plan we worked on."
James fought a more disciplined fight, but Omotoso made it a struggle every step of the way. The split decision verdict was fair, although the scores were wider in both directions than most expected.
Nevertheless, it's a second straight FS1-televised win for James, who wants to continue to take on tough competition.
"These tough fights is what's going to get me ready for the next level," James said afterward.
Omotoso falls to 26-3 (21KOs) with the loss, though a verdict he refused to accept.
"Everyone knows that I won this fight." Omotoso told (yelled at) BoxingScene.com, a stance supported by a spattering of boos from those in attendance once the decision was announced. "As far as I'm concerned, I took his undefeated record. I want to be treated like a winner, I want another title shot."
One fighter who definitely won't enjoy that position is Darchinyan, who suffered a frightening 2nd round knockout loss to Mexico's Sergio Frias.
The former flyweight and super flyweight champ had long ago seen better day. No greater reality check has been delivered than landing on the business end of a power surge from the respectable but still fringe-level contender Frias, who laid out Darchinyan with a single shot to end the fight in an instant.
The official time was 2:45 of round two.
Frias improves - in every sense of the word - to 18-6-2 (9KOS) with the win; Darchinyan falls to 42-9-1 (31KOs).