Jamal James was the rangier fighter with the better command of distance Tuesday night at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, and he knew it. And he knew Javier Molina knew it, too.
“There were a lot of times where I saw he was trying to come in but he couldn’t,” James said. “He was very hesitant. He would come in fast and I would flick the jab or I would make a certain move, and it kind of messed him up and he would stop.
"When they do that I can tell they’re frustrated, and they don’t know how to get inside. I knew he was having a tough time. When you see they’re having a tough time, you have to capitalize.”
Capitalize he did.
Thanks to a combination of relentless jabbing and herky movement that stymied Javier Molina’s (17-2, 8 KOs) best efforts to get inside and drop any kind of power, Jamal James (19-0, 9 KOs) earned a wide 10-round unanimous decision to remain unbeaten.
James easily won the volume battle, too, outthrowing Molina 713-329 and outlanding him 178-68. Most of those punches came courtesy of James' staccato jabs that split Molina's guard, stabbed to his body, came from angles and were fired in twos and threes.
“I kept the jab popping real fast and at a funny rhythm,” James said. “A lot of guys I fight are shorter than me, so they’re going to be trying to counter that jab. You’ve got to be ready to slip out of the way or bring your hand back high so you can stop whatever’s coming.”
In the fourth round, Molina started to counterpunch effectively, if briefly. His best round came in the fifth when he caught James square with a big overhand right that James admitted buzzed him. Molina threw another one that connected, though not as well, and then he inexplicably gave up on the punch.
It was a microcosm of Molina’s night in general. Any time he fought his way inside on the taller James and reeled off a combination, he was content to let those shots stand rather than follow up with a sustained attack.
“He was coming in and throwing big shots, but they were real wide,” James said. “I was using some strange and tricky movement. It throws people off.
"And then the jab. Once you get that jab sticking, it’s hard to throw that overhand right. They’re cautious coming in to throw it, because they don’t want to run into the jab.”
Tuesday was just the start of a big fight week in Los Angeles, capped by Saturday night's showdown between Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero (Fox, 8 p.m ET/5 p.m. PT) for a 147-pound title.
James is sticking around for that one—not particularly eager to return to his native Minneapolis in January when Southern California sun is an option. In doing so, he’ll have a chance to scope out some potential future competition in what has become a hotly contested 147-pound division, not only in the Garcia-Guerrero clash, but also the Sammy Vazquez-Aron Martinez undercard bout.
“I got to meet Sammy Vazquez and Danny Garcia right before the fight,” James said of the two boxers, who each made their way to ringside Tuesday. “In the amateurs I was in Nationals with both those guys, and [I still] talk to them and stuff. It feels good to be on the scene with these guys now and climbing through the ranks.”
For highlights, photos, video and more, check out our James vs Molina fight page.
Plant impressive in late stoppage
Prior to James' dismantling of Molina, Caleb Plant (12-0, 9 KOs) was no slouch with the distance, either. He used superior footwork and a lot of flash in working circles around Adasat Rodriguez (11-5-2, 7 KOs) before finishing the job with a huge left in the sixth that proved to be the stopper. ... Malcolm McAllister (7-0, 7 KOs) kept his knockout ratio perfect after a punishing body shot in the third opened up Tyrone Selders (9-7-1, 6 KOs) for a vicious series of hooks and uppercuts, leading referee Zac Young to step in and wave it off. ... David Benavidez (12-0, 11 KOs) did McAllister one better, getting his man Kevin Cobbs (10-2, 4 KOs) in Round 2. A nasty right to the head wobbled Cobbs, and Benavidez wasted no time, knocking Cobbs around the ring from pillar to post before the fight was stopped.