Jamal James struggled to fight his kind of fight, hit the canvas (albeit questionably) and absorbed as much punishment as he has in his pro career. But in the end, the Minneapolis native’s 18th career fight ended the same way as the previous 17: with his hand raised in victory.
In a rough-and-tumble contest, James survived a knockdown, scored one of his own and ultimately used his four-inch height advantage to pull away from Juan Carlos Abreu in a 10-round unanimous-decision victory Friday at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida.
A 27-year-old boxer-puncher, the 6-foot-2 James (18-0, 9 KOs) prevailed in the 147-pound bout by scores of 97-91, and 96-92 twice.
“He was definitely a really strong fighter,” said James, who is coached by his stepdad, Sankara Frazier, and stepbrother, Adonis Frazier. “My coach said to start boxing him, and that’s when he would try to rush in.
“He would come in, lean in and smother me and tangle my legs up, making it hard for me to maneuver and to pivot off the ropes.”
Early in the fight, Abreu (18-2-1, 17 KOs) clearly was the aggressor, pushing James against the ropes and landing on several occasions while fighting in close. It wasn’t until the middle rounds when James turned the tables and began getting the better of the hammer-fisted Abreu by fighting from distance in the center of the ring.
“In the first two rounds, I was faster and more on point. I saw the shots he was throwing because he was wild, and I was trying to time him correctly,” said James. “That’s why I was staying right in front of him and not really boxing him at times. I wanted to try and catch him jumping in.”
Jamal James hit the canvas on two occasions in the fourth, first becoming entangled in the bottom rope, then rising and going down from a clear slip as ruled by referee Telis Assemenios.
“Our legs were getting tangled pretty badly, and I was a little off balance,” James said. “When he throws that overhand right, he brings that leg forward.
“I tried to step off to my left, but my leg got caught. It was a legit knockdown because it was within the rules, but it wasn’t like I was hurt or buzzed.”
Abreu couldn’t exactly say the same. In fact, the Dominican Republic native claimed an early headbutt threw him off his game, and despite some success in the opening rounds, he said was unable to recover.
"I didn't fight the way I wanted to,” said Abreu, who was bleeding from the left ear after the fight, and was taken to the hospital with a suspected ruptured ear drum, according to his promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz. “In the first round, I got headbutted, and I never really recovered.
“I was buzzed the whole fight after that, and when he hit me, it hurt me more than it normally would."
Following the ruled knockdown in the fourth, the rangy James regained his composure in the sixth, when he used a right hand followed by a left to floor the 28-year-old Abreu. An earlier right cross hurt Abreu, who appeared to be out on his feet.
“The right hand was open all day, and I was just having trouble finding the exact range for it,” James said. “Once I started boxing him and I got in range and started throwing the combinations, he was susceptible to getting hit.
“He was definitely hurt and falling on me and getting weaker as the rounds progressed. I felt like I could have finished him, and that’s something that I’m going to work on.”
Indeed, even though Abreu was wobbly, James was unable to put the finishing touches on the knockout artist. However, in the end, he used his superior boxing skills to close the fight strong and keep his perfect record intact in his first career nationally televised main event.
“The best thing for me would have been to fight smarter—to hit and not get hit—so maybe I didn’t fight as intelligently as I could have,” James said.
“But this was my first time on national TV. … Hopefully, the crowd was pleased seeing me overcome adversity in an exciting fight.”
For complete coverage on James vs Abreu, be sure to visit our fight page.
Erickson Lubin still perfect following TKO triumph over Orlando Lora
Erickson Lubin stepped in the ring Friday night at Full Sail Live looking to prove that, sometimes, youth can indeed trump experience. Prove it he did.
The unbeaten 19-year-old pummeled Orlando Lora from the opening bell, dropped the veteran Mexican fighter in the second round and finished him off in the sixth, using a barrage of more than a dozen unanswered punches that forced referee Frank Santore to step in and stop the bout at the 1:58 mark.
With the victory in the 154-pound contest, Lubin (12-0, 9 KOs) earned his third straight stoppage while sending the 34-year-old Lora (31-6-2, 19 KOs) to his fourth defeat in his last six outings.
Fighting near his home in Orlando, Florida, Lubin gradually broke down Lora starting in the second round of the scheduled 10-rounder, as he repeatedly cornered the native of Culiacan, Mexico, ripping him—even-handedly—to the head and body.
Toward the end of the second, a straight left hand rocked Lora and sent him into the turnbuckle. Ruling that the ropes were the only thing keeping Lora from hitting the canvas, Santore called a knockdown with four seconds remaining in the round.
Lora did rebound and had a much better third round, finding the mark with counters and occasionally roughing up Lubin in retreat. But Lubin quickly regained control.
In the fourth and fifth, Lubin regularly rocked his opponent, forcing him backward with hard lefts and combinations to the body, while also finding seams up the middle to bobble Lora’s head.
Prior to Friday, Lora’s career ledger included recent knockout losses to Julian Williams, Jermall Charlo, Keith Thurman and David Estrada, as well as a unanimous-decision loss to Paulie Malignaggi. Facing a heavy-handed and quickly maturing teenager, Lora once again was unable to make it to the final bell.
In the fight that opened the Bounce TV telecast, Wilky Campfort rose from the canvas in the first round and scored three knockdowns of his own in the second and final round for an explosive TKO over Ronald Montes.
The forward-moving Campfort (21-1, 12 KOs) had dictated the action until the 1:35 mark of the first round, when Montes (16-3, 14 KOs) followed a left-right combination with a straight left that deposited Campfort on his backside.
Down for the first time in his career, the 5-foot-8 Campfort appeared more surprised than hurt, and showed as much by flooring the 5-foot-11 Montes with a right hand eight seconds into the second round.
Another right dropped Montes at the 59-second mark, and a left at the bell finished him off, with referee Telis Assemenios calling an end to the bout.
The 30-year-old Campfort, of Tampa, Florida, scored his second straight stoppage victory and his 19th consecutive win since falling by majority decision to Manny Woods in his second career contest in September 2009.