Tag Archives: Previews

A Big Step for Jamal James this Friday Night in Minneapolis

By: Andrew Johnson

For the second time in 45 years, professional boxing returns to the Armory in downtown Minneapolis. Last April, hometown contender Jamal “Shango” James (23-1, 10 KOs) outlasted Abel Ramos (20-3-2, 15 KOs) in a compelling fight that inched him closer to a title shot and introduced the Armory as the Midwest’s most intriguing boxing venue.

Photo Credit: Premier Boxing Champions

This Friday night, James will headline a marathon PBC card by facing Mahonry Montes (35-7-1, 24 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight bout (FS1 and FOX Deportes starting at 8:00 ET). Already ranked as the #3 welterweight by the WBA, a compelling win against Montes will put James in contention for a fight with WBA Super Champion Keith Thurman (27-0, 22 KOs) or WBA World Champion Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) in 2019.

Jamal James is taller, faster and has a considerably longer reach than Montes. This isn’t news to the veteran fighting out of Sinaloa, Mexico.

“I know that Jamal James is very tall and uses his range well, but one thing that I always do well in my fights is to bring pressure.” Montes told the media. “I am very aggressive and that is what I am going to do tomorrow.”

In James’ last fight, Abel Ramos came to Minneapolis with the same strategy. A shorter and slower fighter than James, Ramos struggled in the early rounds, but as the fight progressed he figured out how to land his own shots and avoid James’ best weapon, the straight right hand. Ramos lost a very close split decision, but he may have laid the blueprint for how other pressure fighters might counter James’ speed and height.

“This is a step to get to that world title.” James told reporters after he weighed-in at two pounds below the 147 lbs limit. A win would be a significant step in his career and one he will attempt in front of his hometown fans and a national audience. But the staircase that boxers must climb in the welterweight division is steep. A misstep by “Shango” on Friday would send him tumbling down the rankings in boxing’s deepest division and out of the welterweight title conversation.

Fellow Minnesotan, Caleb Truax’s (29-4-2, 18 KOs) fight won’t be televised, but he will be on Friday’s card as he looks to make one last title run at super middleweight. He faces the relatively unknown Brazilian boxer, Fabiano Pena (15-10-1, 11 KOs) in a match that is meant to show Truax still has gas in the tank and is ready for what would be his third fight with James DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KOs).

More Headlines

Five Keys to Victory for Errol Spence

Five keys to victory for Errol Spence
By: Kirk Jackson

Kell “The Special One” Brook 36-1 (25 KO’s) aims to defend his IBF welterweight championship for the fourth time facing Errol “The Truth” Spence 21-0 (18 KO’s) May 27th, at the Bramall Lane Football Grounds arena, in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.


In a battle of welterweight supremacy, this bout may shape out to be a career defining fight for Brook or a coming out party for Spence.

Each fighter is highly skilled and holds certain advantages. What are some factors determining the outcome?


Brook is considered a big welterweight; moved up and fought as a middleweight his last fight. His struggles to make the welterweight limit are well documented.

However, Spence is a big welterweight as well.

“At the face off, you look at us, I’m taller than him. I’m a bigger guy than him,” says Errol Spence.

“You just have to be disciplined. A lot of guys blow up in weight before training camp. I live it, because I can get up to 180, 180 (lbs) plus, if I really engorge myself.”

Spence suggests he won’t be bullied inside as the bigger man.

If Brook attempts to hold Spence in attempt to nullify his offense on the inside or in an attempt to frustrate the American challenger, Spence’s size and perceived strength may foil Brook’s plans.

Size plays a major part regarding reach and the distance in which the fight is fought.

Range/Distance control:

Continuing the discussion of size, reach and the measure of distance is important.
Physical attributes play a part in range/distance control because the physical tools of a pugilist typically dictates the style and type of contest the combatant wants to enforce.

Some boxers are versatile and can fight effectively at different ranges; but utilize various tools to be effective in different scenarios.

For example, Spence has the reach advantage, as his reach is 72 inches while Brook is 69 inches.

Brook likes to fight from the outside so in this match-up he will have to utilize speed and timing to successfully combat Spence from the outside and deliver his patented “Chocolate Brownies.”

Spence can and probably will attempt to fight on the outside at times, but there will be a point when he attempts to move the fight inside the trenches to land his trademark body blows.

Former IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter 27-2-1 (17 KO’s) believes Spence has the advantage in physical tools.

“I see Errol [Spence] being patient and working behind his jab. Using his head movement and setting up good body shots.

I just see him keeping the fight pretty clean. That southpaw style can sometimes be hard to adjust to. I just think a lot of things are in his favor.”

But Porter believes Brook can emerge victorious as well.

“It’s just a matter of what both fighters want to do. I think Kell [Brook] will want to keep him on the outside. I think he’ll use his jab to control. I look for Errol to use some good foot movement to get inside and work his way from the outside as well.”

This will be a fight of inches.


Spence doesn’t stand out in regards to sensational hand speed, swiftness and devastating one punch knockout power. All of the sexy attributes.

But the Olympian from Texas can punch hard; his punches are like thudding shots leaving a lasting impression, wearing down opponents. With his technique, Spence is able to generate the power necessary to punish opponents.

A trait more important than speed is timing. Spence times the rhythm of his opponents and can offset speed with his timing and with his awareness of range and distance.

Spence has tremendous balance as well. He is always in position to catch punches with his gloves, to slip punches and counter, to pursue or escape. Great balance allows for a seamless transition from offense to defense and great balance stems from proper foot work and coordination.

Spence has a mastery of the basic fundamentals; great punching technique, elite level footwork, effectively shifts his weight when placing power and precision on punches and is an overall balanced fighter.


Brook likes to control the pace and fight composed. The only time viewers could sense some kind of stress or adversity from Brook (body language) was when he fought reigning middleweight champion Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin 37-0 (33 KO’s).

Golovkin applied not only physical, but mental pressure as well; constantly in Brook’s grill, not allowing the welterweight champion time to breathe or think.

When fighting Porter and facing relentless pressure and pace placed from Porter, Brook was able to maintain composure and fight at a controlled pace.

Brook’s jab played a major key, as he was able to create the space he needed and was always a step ahead of Porter, catching him with the jab whenever he lunged in to attack.

Spence must push the tempo at times, but must also practice patience because Brook can slip punches and be elusive.

Spence must establish his rhythm early, dictate the pace of the fight and must create the threat of an incoming attack. Feinting, along with another staple of Spence’s game will accomplish this task.

Attacking the body is one of the key components to Spence’s game, along with establishing the jab. The jab is important because it serves as a range finder and can dictate offense and defense for Spence.

Road to the fight:

This fight is highly anticipated and will answer questions regarding the hype for both fighters.

Some critics state Spence is yet to prove himself with his resume of opposition. Former WBO super lightweight champion Chris Algieri 21-3 (8 KO’s) is the only notable name.

Similar assessments can be echoed with Brook and his level of competition.

It’s great to face high level opposition like Golovkin, but the confrontation resulted in a five-round TKO defeat. A victory over Shawn Porter is impressive, but aside from that, who else is there?

Critics of Brook can point to limited mandatory title defenses against Kevin Bizier 25-3 (17 KO’s) and Frankie Gavin 24-3 (14 KO’s), or bouts against guys with more than 100 losses like Peter Buckley 32-256-12 (8 KO’s) and Brian Coleman 24-141-7 (5 KO’s).

The timing of this fight favors the younger challenger, Errol Spence. He is riding a seven-fight knockout streak dating back to 2014 and is in his physical prime.

Something to consider is the accumulative damage a fighter suffers from previous fights. Brook endured a beating from unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin his last bout.

Triple G is not only a middleweight, but one of the most devastating power punchers in boxing. Brook’s orbital bone was severely damaged and we can only speculate how healthy Brook is entering this fight.

Spence claims to be one of the most avoided figures in boxing and is hungry for the title. The question will be if he can channel his hunger, determination and hard preparation for this singular moment? Can he realize his dreams of capturing a world title?

Both fighters appear to be on weight, look sharp with their public workouts and the time for talk is over.

Will it be another “Man Down” for Spence or will he suffer defeat via too many “Chocolate Brownies?”

More Columns

Showtime Championship Boxing Preview: Abril vs. Bogere, Russell Jr. vs. Gusev

By: William Holmes

On Saturday night, Showtime presents another night of championship boxing as Richard Abril takes on Sharif Bogere for the vacant WBA Lightweight title, and former Olympian Gary Russell Jr. takes on Vyacheslav Gusev in the featherweight division.

Saturday’s card will take place at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gary Russell Jr. (21-0) vs. Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2); Featherweights

Gary Russell Jr. is an immensely talented prospect who was a former Golden Gloves Champion and a former Olympian. However, he did not compete in the Olympics, as he missed weigh-ins after losing consciousness.

Russell’s been boxing professionally since 2009, and his critics have been insisting that he should be fighting elite competition at this point in his career. However, his opponent, Vyacheslav Gusev, is not considered by many to be elite competition.

Russell will have a slight one-inch height advantage and is three years younger than his opponent. He’ll also have a considerable power advantage inside the ring: 13 of Russell’s fights have ended in a stoppage, while Gusev only has five stoppages. Russell has stopped his last three opponents, Roberto Castaneda, Christopher Perez, and Heriberto Ruiz.

His talents are obvious inside the ring, but he has yet to be seriously tested.

Guzev has only fought once in the past year, a decision victory over Padjai Yongyuthgym in his backyward of Moscow, Russia. His competition has also been exceptionally weak and he rarely fights outside of Russia.

The only time he’s faced notable competition was against Juan Carlos Burgos in 2009 in California. He lost that fight by a unanimous decision.

Gusev represents a “safe” opponent for Russell on national television. He has little power and he’s been inactive for the past year.

Russell should win this fight easily on Saturday night.

Richard Abril (17-3) vs. Sharif Bogere (23-0); WBA Lightweight Title

Bogere is an undefeated Ugandan boxer who has a lot of boxing expert salivating at his potential and raw talent.

Richard Abril is an veteran Cuban boxer who was robbed in his last title fight against Brandon Rios, and the type of fighter who can give young fighters fits inside the ring.

This has the potential to be a very exciting and close fight.

Abril is six years the elder of Bogere, but by no means is he over-the-hill. He’ll also have a five-inch reach advantage.

Abril began boxing in the welterweight division in 2005, and has since made the drop to the lightweight division. He has decent power: 8 of his victories have come by stoppage. He had his first real test against Breidis Prescott in 2008 and lost by a close split decision. His other two losses also came by way of a split decision, one to Hank Lundy in 2010 and the aforementioned one to Rios in 2012.

Abril is a veteran who’s much better than his record suggests. He holds victories over Miguel Acosta, Sergio Rivera, and Jose Reyes.

Bogere has been fighting since 2008 and has yet to taste defeat. He also has 15 stoppages out of his 23 victories, and on paper he appears to have considerable more power than Abril.

He’s began to take a step up in competition recently.

Bogere defeated the always tough Raymundo Beltran in 2011 by a decision, knocked out the then undefeated Francisco Contreras, and is coming off a 2nd round KO over Manuel Levya.

He’s signed by Golden Boy Promotions and Golden Boy does have a very good eye for good young talent.

It’s going to be a close fight, with the experience and reach of Abril likely coming into play on Saturday night.

If Bogere can work his way inside and pound the body of his taller opponent, he should pull off the victory. But if Abril can stay on the outside and pop shot Bogere with precise jabs, he can emerge as the winner.

Regardless, look for Bogere to pull off the victory and perhaps challenge Ricky Burns or Adrien Broner for lightweight supremacy.

More Headlines