Ahead of tomorrow’s Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 and FOX Deportes event taking place at the Armory in Minneapolis, please see below two feature stories, courtesy of PremierBoxingChampions.com, on welterweight contender Jamal James and unbeaten prospect Chris Colbert.
The event is headlined by James stepping into the ring in his hometown to take on Abel Ramos in a 10-round welterweight contest. Televised coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features Colbert battling fellow unbeaten Austin Dulay in an eight-round super featherweight bout.
Click HERE for the story on Jamal James and HERE for the story on Colbert:
Jamal James wants to shine bright in homecoming bout against Abel Ramos
The sounds of a boxing gym can be intimidating. There is a rhythmic, cacophony of speed bags, and heavy bags and mitt work going on simultaneously-and all with authoritative whoomps!
It can reach such a pitch that you could barely hear yourself talk. Just imagine being four-year-old Jamal James and the wide-eyed wonderment he had when his mother took him to the Circle of Discipline gym on the south side of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The intimidation lasted maybe a second. The next thing the rambunctious James did was mimic the fighters he saw, throwing his tiny hands at the bags, fitting his whole arm into a glove. Twenty-five years later in that same gym, everyone now mimics James.
After a sea of amateur and professional wins, under the guidance of Sankara Frazier, who’s been as much a father as he’s been a trainer, James (22-1, 10 KOs) will be seen by not just the Circle of Discipline gym, but by the city of Minneapolis and the nation when he takes on Abel Ramos (18-2-2, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round welterweight fight on Friday, April 13, at the Minneapolis Armory on a Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 and FOX Deportes live (9PM ET/6PM PT).
Also featured on the card will be veteran Edner Cherry against Dennis Galarza in a lightweight co-main event, and Austin Dulay taking on Chris Colbert in a matchup of unbeaten super featherweights.
For the 29-year-old James, this will mark the first time in five years that the 6-foot-2 welterweight has fought on his home turf. It’s been a long journey for someone who was once a kid introduced to boxing holding his mother’s hand.
“Jamal took to boxing, almost immediately,” Frazier recalled. “It’s kind of funny, because he had a little temper on him, just like I did when I began. There was one time a kid who was more experience than Jamal got the better of him, and Jamal jumped the boy, took his head gear off and tried to choke the kid.
“We still laugh about it today. But Jamal, at first, was a handful. He would whine and complain about doing certain things, and remember, he was still a kid. I would tell him to cut that whining out and it wasn’t so much for the purpose of learning boxing, but to get Jamal to understand at that age what work ethic and discipline was about. He could hardly hold his arms up when he had the big gloves on. You could see Jamal loved being around boxing.”
James’ goal growing up was to one day be an Olympian. Though what so often happens to other teenaged fighters coming up through the amateur system in the United States, James was discouraged. He needed to grow into his body, too, since he was always tall for his weight class.
“I had a meeting with the whole crew, who I had since they were little kids, when they were teenagers and I told them they could be really good,” Frazier recalled. “I let them know there would one or two of them that would go on and do further things. I told them what would get them there is discipline and focus.
“There were only a few kids that were working on that part of it, and one of them was Jamal. You see with him now. My thing is I don’t talk to my kids or fighting professional, but boxing is something a person has to want to do, and if money comes with it, great. Boxing is a tough game and you need to be disciplined and focused with it.”
James has one pro loss on his record, and it’s to the very talented Yordenis Ugas in August 2016. James was just coming off an impressive win against Wale Omotoso a month earlier.
“The loss against Ugas I take as a good lesson,” said James, whose rangy 6-2 frame makes it tough for any welterweight to get inside his jab. “I thought I was in shape against Ugas, and I was too slow on the trigger and I fought his fight.
“I found out there that you have to prepare fully for any fight you take. I tried to push the envelope a little too hard for that one. My reflexes weren’t there. I’ll say I wasn’t overlooking Ugas, I’ll say I was overly confident for that fight, at that time. I had no losses and I was feeling good about himself.”
Now James is on a great stage-his home. The renovated Minneapolis Armory is a historic venue that hosted nearly 100 cards between 1915-1973, including shows headlined by one of the greatest welterweights ever – Sugar Ray Robinson.
“I know Abel Ramos is a tough fighter, and I know he’ll come and bring it,” James said. “He’s not coming to my backyard just to lay down. I know he’s coming to fight and I embrace that challenge. If I’m going to be a world champion one day, I’m going to have to take on guys like this, and deal with this kind of pressure.
“I’m going to make sure the other guy is going to remember my name. The storm is coming right here at home. I’m opening the door for these guys coming up behind me.”
Like the older guys once held the door for him.
Article written by Joseph Santoliquito
Confidence not lacking in Chris Colbert’s arsenal
Doubt, they say, is the privilege of those who’ve lived a long time. At 21, Chris Colbert hasn’t earned that right yet. However, age may do nothing to blunt his hubris.
“In boxing you have to stay focused, stay humble and stay ready. I’m still working on the humble part,” Chris Colbert laughs.
His trash talking may offend some, but it’s hard to stay humble when your talent has you feeling like Cassius Clay in Olympic Village.
“I’m a ‘lights, camera, action guy,” he boasts. “I love the lights, I love the camera, and I’m definitely all about that action.”
Colbert (7-0, 2 KOs) has backed up his bravado so far. The undefeated featherweight prospect will make his television debut on FS1 and FOX Deportes against Austin Dulay at the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Friday.
Some will watch hoping the cocksure kid gets knocked off. But Colbert is already a winner, no matter what happens going forward. His isn’t a story of one who did it the right way. It’s a tale of one who did it his way.
Colbert was born and raised in the harsh Flatbush area of Brooklyn. He, his mother, and nine siblings lived together under an ever-changing roof that included two stints in the local shelter.
“My family really wasn’t that close,” Colbert says. “I was the middle child, the independent one. So, I was always by myself, going out and being in the streets alone.”
Colbert was a good student growing up. But by the time he finished middle school, he was spending most of his time on corners, where his diminutive size made him an easy mark.
“I didn’t run from those fights,” he recalls. “I guess in a way, I took out my frustrations on others through street fighting. But that’s where it ended. I never got arrested or caught up with drugs and stuff. I knew what came after that and no matter what, I always believed my future would be bright.”
Colbert got his first taste of boxing at age 13, when he became hooked on the build-up for the Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley fight.
“I saw how much money Floyd makes fighting and I told myself, ‘I fight in the streets every day. Why don’t I get paid for it?'”
The universe agreed. Shortly after, Colbert got into an argument with a friend. The friend suggested they settle it in the ring at Atlas Cops & Kids Boxing Gym. Atlas is a Brooklyn landmark, a mentoring center for neighborhood children started by retired New York police officer Pat Russo and former boxing trainer Teddy Atlas.
“I knew I was home soon as I walked in,” Colbert says. “I kept looking around, seeing the culture there, and I remembered watching Mayweather at the gym. I walked up to a coach and said, ‘I’m going to be the best fighter you got in this gym.’ He thought I was joking. I came every day for three years straight.
“Once I started going to the gym, my life was all about boxing. I used to go to school and I wasn’t focused, not doing the work. But I told the teachers, ‘I’m good. I’m going to be a boxer.’ They all told me that I wasn’t going to make it.”
Colbert would meet future trainer and father-figure Aureliano Sosa at Atlas. It was Sosa who christened him “Lil’ B-Hop.”
“They called me that because they said I fought like Bernard Hopkins; the way he taunts people and all that stuff,” Colbert says. “Then one day I’m at a press conference and someone shouted my nickname. Hopkins turned around thinking they were calling him. That’s how we met. We’ve been close ever since.”
Hopkins advises his namesake, sharing insights on the game and warning him of the pitfalls ahead. “Lil B-Hop” immersed himself in boxing, studying Mayweather, Pernell Whitaker and Andre Ward to incorporate parts of their style into his own. Colbert possesses fast hands and feet, and is comfortable fighting either orthodox or southpaw. He’s registered only two stoppages but believes that will change once he acquires “grown man strength.”
However, Colbert’s newfound love didn’t alter fortunes at home. Just as the U.S. Nationals were about to begin, he and his family were evicted.
“I was really going through it,” he says. “Like damn, I never wanted people to know my business. That’s how I am with everything. I always kept things to myself. Being in the shelter again, trying to get ready to compete in a fight was one of the hardest things I had to go through.”
Colbert went on to win that 2015 Nationals championship. He became the No. 3-ranked fighter nationally at 114 pounds and No. 1 at 123, earning an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.
But “the politics of the game” and perhaps the allure of making money convinced him to turn pro at 18. It appears he made the right decision. Last November, he fought in his first eight-rounder, outpointing Titus Williams in a battle of undefeated Big Apple prospects.
On paper, Dulay is the toughest opponent of his career. Following an amateur career that included over 120 wins, the Tennessee native is 11-0 with 8 KOs as a pro.
“These aren’t fights they’re giving me,” Colbert says. “This is what I’m asking for. A lot of these world champions came up taking the easy route. They’ll be 27-0 and haven’t fought an undefeated fighter. I’m only 7-0 and I’m up to my third undefeated fighter. And I plan to keep wiping them out.”
Along with this early crossroads fight, his long-time girlfriend is pregnant with his first child, a son. Colbert’s approaching both the fight and parenting with the same confidence that got him to this point.
“After I turned pro, I said to my teachers, ‘I told y’all.’ Right now, I’m doing this to better myself, better my community and to give my son the kind of life I didn’t have. I’m just waiting on my turn to shine. You could hate it or love it, but no matter what, stay tuned.”
Article written by Kenneth Bouhairie