Jamal James Has to Get Past Tough Veteran Diego Chaves to Get Into Title Contention

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Welterweight contender Jamal James has never been one to shy away from a challenge, and thus he finds himself in another firefight against Argentine brawler Diego Chaves tonight on FS1.

Chaves vs James

Welterweights Diego Chaves and Jamal James pose for photos at weigh-ins yesterday in Lancaster, California the site for tonight's FS1-televised card. (Pete Young/Premier Boxing Champions)

A ring defeat is only a loss if a learning lesson didn’t come from the experience. 

The lesson that Jamal “Shango” James learned following his August 2016 loss to Yordenis Ugas is to not say yes to every fight just to prove your mettle.

Even so, don’t expect the Minnesota-bred boxer to stop taking risks anytime soon.

Among the more aggressively matched prospects in the sport today, James (18-1, 9 KOs) continues his impressive run of tough opposition. Up next is a crossroads bout with Argentina’s Diego Chaves tonight in a 10-round battle at Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, California on PBC on FS1 at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT. Jessie Vargas faces Aaron Herrera in a 10-round welterweight match in the main event. 

It’s just the second ring appearance for James since his unanimous decision loss to Ugas. He took the fight on barely one week’s notice, agreeing to replace an injured Bryant Perrella. It was an even quicker turnaround since he was coming off of a grueling 10-round win over Wale Omotoso just four weeks prior. 

“We’re always prepared, but that was a great lesson, in retrospect,” James admits of the experience. “We took that fight on a little bit of too short of notice, and my timing was a little off being that we were just coming off of the Omotoso fight, which was a tough guy.

“I was still in shape, but it’s 70 percent mental, and your mind has to be in a certain space. Not taking anything away from Ugas, because he was the better man that night,” he said.

It’s not something James has admitted in his seven-year pro career. His ring accomplishments had been outstanding to that point.

In the last two years one would be hard-pressed to find a developing talent whose faced stiffer competition. His first step up in class came in his win over Juan Carlos Abreu, climbing off the deck to take a 10-round decision in their Sept. 2015 battle. 

People in the world of boxing know that you can’t sleep on Shango. I’m on the verge of having that breakout opportunity that will lead to a championship fight.” Welterweight contender Jamal James

James once again found himself on the canvas less than a year later, recovering from a 1st round knockdown to edge Omotoso in their July 2016 meet in Birmingham, Alabama.

Now he takes on arguably his toughest task yet. 

Chaves (26-2-1, 22 KOs) has come up just short in his biggest tests to date, all coming against top-rated opposition. The Argentine brawler was unbeaten heading into his July 2013 welterweight title fight with Keith Thurman, eventually losing via technical knockout in the 10th round of their grueling affair. In August 2014 he lost to Brandon Rios after arriving just two days before the fight because of a visa problem leaving Argentina.

Four months later, he held former two-division world champion Timothy Bradley to a 12-round draw. He’s won three straight heading into the match against James.

“Chaves is as tough or tougher than the other guys, and his timing is a little different,” James said. “We’re still gonna try to break him down, working my inside game is just as importantly as my outside game. Beating Chaves, who has a bigger name than most of the other guys that I’ve fought, that would put me right in line and a lot closer to a title shot.”

Not bad for a still-rising prospect barely a year removed from his lone loss.

“Ugas was supposed to fight Bryant Perrella, and he ended up knocking him out after he fought me,” James said. “A lot of people thought Perrella was going to be the winner of that fight. So, the fact that we went a strong 10 rounds and didn’t get the victory, that was a great lesson learned that kept me motivated to continue striving and pushing myself.”

It’s why he insisted on this tough challenge against Chaves.

“Facing a guy like Diego Chaves at this point in my career speaks to the fact that you can never count me out in a fight,” James said. “People in the world of boxing know that you can’t sleep on Shango. I’m going for broke every time out, and I’m just waiting and I’m on the verge of having that breakout opportunity that will lead to a championship fight.”

For a complete look at Chaves vs James, visit our fight page.

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