Former world champion Antonio DeMarco gave welterweight contender Jamal James all he could handle during a 10-round war that saw James emerge victorious Saturday night on FS1.
Blame the buzz in the arena for Jamal James being lured into a fight. Or perhaps it was his opponent, Antonio DeMarco.
In front of a hometown capacity crowd at the Armory in Minneapolis, James went toe-to-toe with former lightweight titleholder DeMarco, producing fireworks in their PBC on FS1 main event Saturday night.
James prevailed by unanimous decision but faced a serious gut check, undoubtedly due to the endless right hooks to the body that reddened the left side of James.
After a good opening round for James (26-1, 12 KOs), the two slugged it out in a thrilling second round that saw both guys buzzed. The crowd jumped to their feet, perhaps encouraging James to remain in a firefight with DeMarco (33-8-1, 24 KOs).
When the two were in the center of the ring with any distance, James was the far superior fighter. He was able to punch and then turn DeMarco, forcing him to reset before DeMarco could fire off his own offense. But far too often in the fight, DeMarco was able to get James to trade shots with him in what turned out to be a fringe Fight of the Year candidate.
The seventh round stood out as a great round amongst many good ones. The two endlessly traded heavy leather, mixing up shots to the body and head. DeMarco had the edge early in the frame, but James poured it on late.
James is also known as being quite a gifted body puncher and did his fair share of punching to the midsection. The two took turns unleashing their offense, though James had the edge in punches thrown and landed. The rounds were hard to score but James did just enough to earn the support of the judges, who scored it 98-92 across the board in his favor.
"I knew coming into this fight that he was a former world champion and this would be a big step up," James said afterward. "He kept coming, but I did too. I just had to bite down and do what I know how to do. DeMarco definitely came to fight."
It was a solid win for James as he continues to bide his time while he hopes for a title shot in the crowded welterweight division. He has a sizable following, which is more than a lot of guys at 147 pounds can really claim. James is highly ranked in most of the major sanctioning bodies and could have his number dialed at any moment.
"I'm ready for the title fight, who's going to give me the shot?" James asked. "I'm ready for anyone. My time is now."
DeMarco has lost five of his last seven fights but has been a tough out, even at age 33. Although his days of challenging for a world title are probably well behind him, but he's still a viable challenge.
Gerald Washington Scores Come-From-Behind TKO of Robert Helenius
Timber! After struggling in the middle rounds, former heavyweight title challenger Gerald Washington (20-3-1, 13 KOs) snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a huge knockout of Robert Helenius (28-3, 17 KOs) in the eighth round of their scheduled 10-round bout.
It was a competitive back-and-forth matchup. Helenius started to take over in the middle rounds thanks to a successful jab. Washington started to get a bit demoralized and gassed but found lightning in a bottle with a right hand that shook Helenius, who held on. Once they were separated, Washington followed up with a straight right that sent Helenius crashing into the ropes on his back. The fight was waved off at 2:30 of the round.
It was a great come-from-behind win from Washington that gives him a glimmer of hope of getting back in the world title picture. Washington was outlanded 114-to-78 in punches up until that point in the fight. At the time of stoppage, Helenius was ahead 67-66 on two cards while Washington was ahead 67-66 on the third.
Charles Martin Stops Daniel Martz in Four
Former IBF heavyweight titleholder Charles Martin (27-2-1, 24 KOs) stopped Daniel Martz (18-7-1, 15 KOs) in the fourth round after looking lackluster early on.
Martin took some time to get going but, once he did, he landed straight left hands with ease. He dropped Martz twice in the fourth before referee Celestino Ruiz halted the bout. Official time was 2:03.
Bryant Perella Stops Domonique Dolton in Three
Bryant Perrella (17-2, 14 KOs) earned a third-round stoppage of Domonique Dolton (22-3-1, 13 KOs) in a do-or-die welterweight battle that featured solid two-way action. Perrella was briefly hurt in the second but rallied to stagger Dolton at the end of the round. Dolton never quite recovered; Perrella pounded him in the corner until referee Gary Miezwa finally stopped the bout at 1:24.
Gary Antonio Russell (15-0, 11 KOs) kept his record perfect with an easy 10-round shutout decision of the game but outclassed Francisco Pedroza (13-9-2, 7 KOs) in a bantamweight bout.
Russell's handspeed was vastly superior and he threw punches in bunches. Pedroza was fighting outside of Tijuana for the first time in his career and took Russell's punches well, and did solid work of his own in spurts. Russell however was just too quick and never let his foot off the gas.
For a closer look at James vs DeMarco, check out our fight night page.