One-loss welterweight contender says he wants unbeaten champion Keith Thurman or 147-pound titleholder Manny Pacquiao next.
Jamal James ended a 25-punch salvo and his second straight hometown victory by second-round knockout in the main event of PBC on FS1 on Friday night. He crumpled Mahonry Montes with a crippling left hook to the stomach and a head-swiveling, follow-up right uppercut before a packed house at the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
It was the second stoppage amid four straight wins for the 30-year-old James (24-1, 11 KOs), who is ranked No. 3 in the 147-pound division by the WBA and strengthened his chances of facing unbeaten champion Keith Thurman or titleholder Manny Pacquiao.
“Keith Thurman or Manny Pacquiao make the most sense,” said James. “Thurman and Pacquiao both have the WBA titles, and I’m ranked No. 3, so that sounds alright to me. Hopefully, one of those fights, Thurman or Pacquiao, is something we can make happen before the end of the year because we’re hungry for it.”
The 6-foot-2 James has a height advantage on the 5-foot-7 ½ Thurman, who has been inactive due to injuries following his split decision unification victory over former two-division king Danny Garcia in March 2017.
There’s also the 5-foot-5 ½ Pacquiao, a 39-year-old eight-division title winner who regained a crown with last month’s seventh-round stoppage of former titleholder Lucas Matthysse. Garcia and Porter are fighting for a vacant WBC crown on September 8, and unbeaten southpaw Errol Spence is eying a defense of his IBF crown opposite four-division title-winner Mikey Garcia.
“If I use my height and range correctly, that could be a problem for Pacquiao. Shawn Porter applies a lot of pressure, but Danny has great timing to catch you running into something,” said James. “But whoever wins, I’d get in there with any one of those guys. I have great management and we’re not running from anybody. I’m open to whomever they say I’m fighting, next.”
“Jamal has great power, a great selection of punches, and when he had [Montes] hurt, he exploded and didn’t let him off the hook. He showed he can be destructive tonight, showing he’s grown in the sport since losing to Ugas,” said veteran trainer Virgil Hunter, who served as a ringside analyst.
“Jamal’s display of power and aggression can’t be overlooked. James has to be considered for a top fight with one of the champions. Jamal can’t be ignored right now, and has to be in the mix when it comes to talking about who is fighting for the belts and who has the belts.”
On Friday, James returned to the site of his previous fight in April, a tough majority decision over rugged Mexican-American Abel Ramos that preceded Chaves and a unanimous decision over former title challenger Jo Jo Dan in July 2017 to rebound from Ugas.
“James definitely delivered a big statement tonight that he belongs in the same category as Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter,” said 160-pound champion Jermall Charlo, who also worked ringside. “James has power, speed and I have to see him in there top guys in the welterweight division. He’s at the top of his game right now.”
For a complete look at James vs Montes, check out our fight page.