By: Andrew Johnson
The two best boxers in Minnesota delivered distinct messages by scoring early-round knockouts at the Armory last Friday night in Minneapolis. Jamal James (24-1, 11 KOs) told the welterweight division “Here I come!” with his second-round knockout of Mahonry Montes’ (35-8-1, 24 KOs). While Caleb Truax announced “I am still here!” to the Super Middleweight division with a dominating performance against Fabiano Pena (15-11-1, 10 KOs).
Jamal James believes that he belongs among the elite fighters at 147 lbs. Known as a slick boxer who uses his length to frustrate opponents, James surprised many with the power he displayed in the fight.
“He said that he would be coming forward on us so I knew what to expect.” James told the Boxing Insider immediately after the fight. “I had watched his film and my corner told me to keep that jab on him, use the angles and feel him out.”
In the first round, the fighters threw inconsequential punches to size each other up and find their rhythm. Montes launched his attack in the second round and was building momentum until James landed a series of right hands. The first shot landed squarely on Montes’ chin, rattling the veteran fighter from Sinaloa. James capitalized on the moment by continuing to throw his right hand over Montes defense. When Montes finally lifted his gloves to protect his head, James finished him with a vicious left to the body that ended the fight.
“I was able to hurt him early with a right hand and then that body shot just sunk him.” said an exuberant James.
The welterweight division is full of marquee names and big money fights. After successfully headlining two nationally televised cards in his hometown, Jamal James believes that he has earned a shot at a title, most likely a WBA belt, which ranked him as the #3 contender entering the fight.
“Hopefully this brings me closer to a world title opportunity, if not a world title opportunity in my next fight.” James responded when asked what this victory means for his immediate future.
3,754 fans came to the event, so the PBC may want to let “Shango” fight in front of the Armory’s friendly crowd one more time before presenting him with a contract for a title bout. But if it were up to Jamal James, he would likely want to challenge Keith Thurman for his WBA
Even though FS1 turned off their cameras after the James/Montes bout, no one left the arena. Caleb Truax had not fought in his hometown since his shocking upset of James DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KOs) last December. He turned his homecoming match into a sing along by selecting “Purple Rain” to accompany his ring walk and entered the building like a choir conductor.
In April, Truax was sluggish in losing his title to DeGale in their rematch, launching rumors of retirement for the 34 year-old. Though he fought as a Light Heavyweight after weighing-in above the Super Middleweight limit and faced an overmatched Fabiano Pena, Truax looked sharp in the fight. After absorbing a few solid punches from Pena, he took control and pummeled his opponent with a barrage of power shots, ending the fight in the third round with a sensational upper-cut.
The victory put Truax in the mix again at Super Middleweight with the potential to face powerhouses like Jose Uzcategui and David Benavidez, a third fight with DeGale or possibly Julio Cesar Chavez Jr this fall.