By Jake Donovan
The stakes have significantly risen for Jamal James’ latest hometown appearance.
Boxers never want to be guilty of looking beyond the fight that’s in front of them, which is all the more reason for James to remain locked in for his showdown versus Antonio DeMarco this weekend at home in Minneapolis, Minn. Additional motivation to emerge victorious comes in the form of what lies ahead of the resurgent welterweight contender, namely his first major title shot.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the winner of the July 13 Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on FS1 headliner will be in line for an interim welterweight title fight. The plan is to pair whomever emerges victorious this weekend with the winner of the July 20 crossroads bout between Sergey Lipinets and John Molina, Jr. for a secondary version of the World Boxing Association (WBA) welterweight title.
The latter bout takes place on the undercard of a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event live from MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The show is headlined by the WBA title consolidation clash between unbeaten Keith Thurman and legendary Manny Pacquaio, whom presently holds a secondary version of the title.
Of the slew of welterweights, James (25-1, 12KOs) is the only one among the lot to have yet to fight for a major title. The 6’2” contender from Minneapolis—who turns 31 later this month—couldn’t ask for a better platform to position himself for such an opportunity, as he fights at home for the fourth straight time.
In all, James brings to the Minneapolis Armory a five-fight win streak following a 10-round loss to Yordenis Ugas in 2016, suffering the lone loss of his career in a bout he took on short notice. Ugas was out of the ring for more than two years at the time, but relaunched his career in igniting an eight-fight win streak before falling just short versus World Boxing Council (WBC) welterweight titlist Shawn Porter this past March.
The Cuban contender has the chance to reposition himself for another title shot, as he also appears on the July 20 card versus unbeaten Omar Figueroa Jr. in a WBC title eliminator.
Meanwhile, James is still in search of his first shot at alphabet glory. The chance to move one fight closer comes versus someone who’s been there before in Mexico’s DeMarco (33-7-1, 24KOs), a former lightweight titlist who moves up from super lightweight for this bout.
DeMarco has lost four of his last six starts, including a 10-round decision to unbeaten 140-pound prospect Maxim Dadashev in his most recent start last October. The bout was his first in more than a year following a shocking 1st round knockout win over previously unbeaten Eddie Ramirez in Oct. 2017.
Saturday’s bout will mark his fourth at welterweight, one taking place by accident as his intended Dec. 2015 super lightweight clash with Figueroa was modified to an over-the-limit welterweight bout at the 11th hour due to Figueroa’s struggles to make weight. DeMarco offered a brave showing, coming up just short in their NBC-televised thriller.
The winner of the July 13 clash will likely be ringside for the stacked Fox Sports PPV card one week later in Las Vegas, if only to scout all of the relevant welterweight action. A date with the last man standing between Lipinets—a former 140-pound champ—and two-time title challenger Molina Jr. is in the cards, with whomever prevails in that bout in prime position to challenge the winner of the July 20 main event between Thurman and Pacquiao.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox