Jamal James vs. Radzhab Butaev: Testing Mettle, Eyeing The Future

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Big opportunities await the winner of Saturday night's main event as WBA Welterweight Titlist Jamal James meets unbeaten top contender Radzhab Butaev live on PBC on SHOWTIME.

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James vs Butaev and Ennis vs Dulorme PREVIEW: October 30, 2021 | PBC on SHOWTIME

This Saturday, October 30 on PBC on SHOWTIME, live from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, hungry welterweights clash in a bid to reach the elite class of the lucrative 147-pound division.

In the 12-round headliner, WBA “regular” welterweight champion Jamal “Shango” James (27-1, 12 KOs) defends his title against unbeaten contender, Russia’s Radzhab Butaev (13-0, 10 KOs).

In the high-interest co-feature, one of boxing’s brightest rising stars, Jaron “Boots” Ennis (27-0, 25 KOs), meets veteran contender Thomas Dulorme (25-5-1, 16 KOs) in a 10-round welterweight battle.

Ennis, a 24-year-old Philadelphia native and 2020 Ring Magazine Prospect of the Year, is considered by many a “can’t miss” future superstar. In his last bout, he gave former world champ Sergey Lipinets the first KO loss of his career, delivering a scorching six-round stoppage against the durable Russian. 

“Dulorme is a good fighter and I don’t take anything away from him,” Ennis said of Saturday's opponent. “He’s fought a lot of great guys, world champions, but I’m on a different level right now. I’m coming to take over the welterweight division and he’s in my way. He’s got to go. I’m coming for all the belts.”

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and will kick off with unbeaten lightweight contender Michel Rivera facing Argentina’s Jose Matías Romero in a 10-round contest.

The Story

Jamal James has been rising to the top of a talented welterweight division the old school way. With a loyal hometown Minneapolis following behind him, he’s beaten a solid level of opposition and honing his skills on the way up. 

Currently on a seven-fight win streak, he’s scored some impressive victories over the likes of Diego Chaves, Abel Ramos, Antonio DeMarco, and Thomas Dulorme during that run. His lone career defeat came via decision in a spirited effort against Yordenis Ugas back in 2016.

The 33-year-old James hopes that a win this Saturday will lead to a rematch with Ugas and allow him entry into the elite ranks of the welterweight division where opponents such as Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Yordenis Ugas and Danny Garcia await.

Radzhab Butaev jumped into the pro ranks in 2016 after an outstanding 392-8 amateur record in his native Russia. His lone setback as a professional was a 2019 decision loss to Alexander Besputin that was later changed to a No Contest when Besputin tested positive for a banned substance. 

In his last contest, he stopped the previously unbeaten Terry Chatwood in three rounds. 

Like James, Butaev, 27, is aiming for the very top of the prestigious 147-pound class and looking at this Saturday’s bout as a means to that end. 

The Stakes

At stake is James’ WBA “regular” welterweight title and a potential shot at WBA “super” welterweight champ Yordenis Ugas in the immediate future. 

I’m looking to make a big statement in this fight. WBA World Welterweight Champion - Jamal James

The Matchup

James is a tall and lanky fighter at 6-foot-2 who is most effective at a distance but is also surprisingly comfortable up close. As his career has progressed, he’s become increasingly adept at creating proper space for himself with the jab, a straight right hand off that jab, and smart movement. 

Although he still gets caught moving between inside and outside work, his balance as a fighter has improved with nearly every fight. He’s also displayed mental and physical toughness in recent bouts, battling through rough patches against both Dulorme and DeMarco. 

Butaev is a come-forward, aggression-minded fighter. Sporting the poise of someone with an extensive amateur career, he fights with self-confidence and is steadfast in his game plan.

Although not necessarily a one-punch KO artist, he is physically strong, with a very good left hook and a solid jab. He also goes well to the body.

On defense, he keeps his hands high and has some head movement, but it’s clear that defending is not his forte. He can—and will—be touched and he has shown some vulnerability to hand and foot speed.

The Words

Jamal James

“I’m looking to make a big statement in this fight. This will be my first title defense and my first time fighting on SHOWTIME and in Las Vegas. My whole mindset is to come out and show out, so that everyone knows I’m a major player in this division. I have to prove to everyone why I deserve the biggest fights.”

Radzhab Butaev

“We’ve been working hard for a year leading up to this fight. I’ve seen how James fights and it’s definitely going to be a clash of styles. I can just promise that I’m going to bring the war and make this an exciting fight. I’m going to start writing my history on October 30.”

The Breakdown

James-Butaev is an interesting matchup pitting a fighter in James, who needs some space to operate at 100%, against a presence in Butaev, whose entire game is based on coming forward and eliminating safe spaces.

In this contest, the nearly 3-inches-taller James will actually be giving up two inches in reach. Interestingly enough, this will be the fourth consecutive fight where the lanky fighter is at a reach disadvantage. It’s a testament to James’ increasing skill set that it hasn’t stopped him from controlling the perimeter in all of his recent bouts. It remains to be seen whether he can do the same against the tenacious and disciplined Russian.

Butaev’s plan is simple. He’s going to apply pressure until he breaks James down. The Minneapolis native, however, is a full step above most of the Russian’s pro opposition to date and it’s going to take more than a simple push forward to grind him down. 

Expect a good one on Saturday that will alternate between tactical battle and flat-out fight. The winner will move on to bigger, more lucrative things—and he will have earned the right to do so. 

For a closer look at James vs Butaev, check out our fight night page. 

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