Jamal James faces his first WBA world welterweight title defense against Radzhab Butaev at Mandalay Bay on Saturday.
The 33-year-old American has only one loss on his record, which came against the impressive Yordenis Ugás in 2016. He’s eyeing a rematch, but first he must get past the undefeated Butaev.
The Russian has faced some tough opponents in his career, so he is being respected in boxing betting lines.
James Wanting Statement Win
Following a win over Thomas Dulorme, Jamal James wants to make a statement against Butaev.
The current WBA champion wants bigger fights, but he’ll only get them if he proves a point against a lesser opponent this weekend.
He lost a close fight to Ugás and he wants to show that he deserves bigger fights. Ugás made headlines by beating Manny Pacquiao in August.
“I’m looking to make a big statement in this fight,” James told FightMag. “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.”
— BoxingScene.com (@boxingscene) October 22, 2021
A rematch against Ugás is on the cards, but beating Butaev isn’t a foregone conclusion. He hasn’t knocked someone out since beating Mahonri Montes in 2018, which was an easy fight for James.
James has had four fights without a knockout, so the 27-1 fighter will be head hunting in Las Vegas.
The Minnesota native has never fought in Las Vegas, which is hard to believe. If he can handle the bright lights, he could make his way back up the welterweight ranks.
Butaev Gets Second Bite
Radzhab Butaev had a chance to win the vacant WBA title when he faced Alexander Besputin in 2019, but it didn’t go his way.
It ended in a no contest, but he gets his chance to make amends against James.
Butaev has since beaten Terry Chatwood with a knockout, so the power is there. The Russian hasn’t beaten many tough opponents, but he has untapped ability.
Unbeaten fighters always attract interest with the sportsbook. However, there hasn’t been much support for Butaev. Most bettors believe he’ll need to improve to beat a quality fighter like James, but he has a puncher’s chance.
WBA Welterweight Champ Jamal “Shango” James 🆚 unbeaten contender Radzhab Butaev headlines.
Rising ⭐️ Jaron “Boots” Ennis faces veteran contender Thomas Dulorme in the co-main.
𝟭 𝗪𝗘𝗘𝗞 🥊 𝗟𝗜𝗩𝗘 𝗢𝗡 𝗦𝗛𝗢𝗪𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘 pic.twitter.com/vY2R5KyHbA
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) October 23, 2021
An amateur standout before turning pro in 2016, he has a sizable height advantage. James is confident his ability will outweigh the size difference.
“Like any other fighter, Butaev has two arms, two legs and a head,” said James. “All of these guys are coming with their A-games. He has strengths and weaknesses just like anyone else. I know he’ll come in there strong and try to test me. He’ll probably try to get inside on me. It’s my job to out-box him and beat him.”
We would have loved to see what Butaev had to offer against Besputin. However, without that bout, we’re guessing about how well he’ll handle the pressure.
Betting online markets look to have this fight spot, so we would comfortably pick James to come away with the win. He will need to fight well to score the knockout win, but he should wear Butaev down and come up with the goods late.