Jamal James becomes the latest welterweight to reap the benefits of the division’s restructured title picture.
The Minneapolis-bred boxer was elevated from “interim” to “World” titlist by the World Boxing Association, the sanctioning body confirmed on Thursday. The move comes on the heels of having recently upgraded Miami’s Yordenis Ugas from “World” to “Super” champion in line with the sanctioning body naming former “Super” title claimant Manny Pacquiao as its “Champion in Recess.”
James’ latest honor comes with conditions, however. The 32-year old welterweight has been ordered to make his first title defense versus Russia’s Radzhab Butaev (13-0, 10KOs; 1NC), with the two entering a 30-day negotiation period—effective Thursday—to work out terms in order to avoid a purse bid hearing.
James (27-1, 12KOs) claimed the interim version of the title with a 12-round unanimous decision win over Thomas Dulorme last August behind closed doors at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. The Fox-televised bout came less than a month prior to Ugas’s vacant WBA “World” welterweight title win over Abel Ramos, which also aired on Fox and put together with the understanding that the winner would next face Butaev. Ugas emerged victorious and was prepared to enter talks with Butaev, who was owed a title shot due to the controversial circumstances surrounding his Nov. 2019 clash with Alexander Besputin.
Butaev saw a 12-round loss overturned and changed to a No-Contest after Besputin tested positive for the banned substance Lingandrol, resulting in his being stripped of the title. In lieu of an ordered title fight with Ugas, Butaev was granted a stay-busy fight, scoring a 3rd round knockout of Arkansas’ Terry Chatwood last December at Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
With Ugas since elevated to “Super” champion, James inherits the overdue mandatory title defense with his recent title status promotion.
James has won seven straight since suffering his lone career defeat, a 10-round loss to Ugas in an Aug. 2016 bout he accepted on short notice. James replaced an injured Bryant Perrella, taking the fight just four weeks after scoring a grueling 10-round win over Wale Omotoso.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox