Jamal James ready to step up to welterweight's elite

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After hard-earned win Friday night on PBC on FS1, once-beaten welterweight contender says he's ready to take on a 147-pound champion or top contender.

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James vs Ramos Highlights: April 13, 2018 - PBC on FS1

After Friday’s tough majority decision over rugged Mexican-American Abel Ramos, Jamal James declared himself ready for a step up in his next fight to top-tier 147-pounders like champions Keith Thurman and southpaw Errol Spence Jr., if not, former titleholders Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia.

“Whether it’s Keith Thurman or Errol Spence, I’ll fight anybody who has a title or any of the top guys willing to give me that opportunity,” said James. “It could be Jessie Vargas, Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter, I’m ready to make the step up and go for broke.”

The 26-year-old Ramos (18-3-2, 13 KOs), of Casa Grande, Arizona, previously lost to unbeaten fighters Regis Prograis and Ivan Baranchyk by eighth round stoppage and unanimous decision in December 2015 and February of 2017.

“Ramos was a tough competitor. There was some pressure. I feel like I could have done better, but I wasn’t in my hometown fighting some easy dude that I could just blow over,” said James.

“I showed everyone in the division that I’m willing to take the risk fighting these tougher guys. No matter whether it’s my hometown or not, I’m willing to put it all on the line. I feel good it. No one has an easy fight against me.”

Fighting before hometown fans who packed the in 8,400 capacity Minneapolis Armory in Minnesota and screamed his nickname, “Shango,” throughout the night, the 6-foot-2 James (23-1, 10 KOs) at times displayed a sharp jab, counter-punching, body work, crisp combinations, an inside game and a can’t-miss right hand from range along with a sturdy chin and general durability.

James caused swelling and bleeding around Ramos’ left eye, but admitted to being buzzed by a second round left hook and troubled to the body as well as by a cut over his forehead resulting from a ninth-round head-butt.

 “My jab was working, I showed some sharpness and caught him with some nice shots," said James, ruled to have been pushed by Ramos following a second-round trip to the canvas.

"I made adjustments, defensively, slipping shots or covering up, but Ramos came to fight and caught me with a couple of nice shots. A nice hook, one good body shot, but I’ve been hit harder.”

Whether it’s Keith Thurman or Errol Spence ... It could be Jessie Vargas, Adrien Broner, Shawn Porter, I’m ready to make the step up and go for broke. Welterweight contender Jamal James

The 29-year-old James went the 10-round distance for the sixth time in seven fights, but has yet to go 12. With a resume that includes decisions over Wale Omotoso, Juan Carlos Abreu and 2008 U.S. Olympian Javier Molina, James said he’s ready to make the leap as soon as this summer even as he works to improve on striking a balance between using his height, aggression and effectively closing distance.

“My height can be an obstacle that’s rare in the game and can trouble opponents when I use it to my advantage,” said James. “Guys may think they see some weaknesses, but I know they’ll be looking so I’ll go back and fix them.”

The triumph was James’ third straight since losing by unanimous decision to 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Yordenis Ugas in August 2016, and follows a unanimous decision over former title challenger Jo Jo Dan and a third-round KO of former title holder Diego Chaves in July and December 2017.

"I want to take a couple of days off,” said James. “I’ll heal up and get right back to sharpening up some stuff and being better the next fight, which I hope is a title shot.”

James said his perceived vulnerability against Ramos might encourage potential opponents, including former champions, Berto, Rios and Amir Khan or southpaws Devon Alexander, Vicor Ortiz or Luis Collazo.

“They’re all champions. Beating any of them would only boost my opportunity,” said James. “If I can’t get a title shot in my next fight, then I would definitely take on one of those guys.”

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